Gulf of Maine Ocean Data Partnership announced

04/22/04

Scientists, researchers to create new information portal to the Gulf of Maine

Portland, Maine -- On Friday, April 23, researchers from the U.S. and Canada will lay the groundwork to create an Internet-based portal that will provide on-demand access to oceanographic data from multiple institutions with tools to combine, view and analyze the data in ways that have not been possible before.

An initial 16 entities will form the Gulf of Maine Ocean Data Partnership at their maiden meeting at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

For decades, a vast and growing storehouse of knowledge about the Gulf of Maine has been out of reach for many researchers, managers, educators and the public at large. Although research capacity has grown by leaps and bounds as a result of computer and sensor technology, valuable collections of biological, physical, chemical, and geologic oceanographic data from academic, public and private institutions have, in large part, remained in isolation from each other. The Gulf of Maine Ocean Data Partnership will provide a means to collect, organize, combine, and make this data available online.

Participants include the federal fisheries science agencies and geologic survey organizations of the U.S. and Canada, several state agencies and academic and nonprofit organizations in the U.S., the Atlantic Ecology Division of the EPA, and the regional Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System1 (GoMOOS), which is hosting the Partnership. The meeting is being convened by the Gulf of Maine Census of Marine Life, a regional program that is a component of a large global effort to better understand the abundance and diversity of life in the seas2.

According to Evan Richert, Program Director for the Gulf of Maine Census of Marine Life at the University of Southern Maine, "For the first time, these data collections will be able to be shared, on an ongoing basis, so that anyone scientist, teacher, or fisherman can better see the Gulf of Maine in its fullness, as a complete ecosystem. When the system is up and running, we will have a truly integrated ocean observing system, and that means better capacity to analyze and predict the future of the Gulf of Maine."

The new portal will make it possible, for example, to combine data on trends in the ground fisheries with information about ocean temperature, currents, the sea floor, and prey to obtain a more complete picture about the behavior of different species and to determine how they might be managed. Data on currents might be combined with data on the early life stages of lobster to gain better understanding of likely lobster populations several years in the future. Or data on ocean chemistry might be combined with data on currents, ocean temperature, and algal blooms to create a method to predict harmful algal blooms.

To date, organizations that have agreed to enter into this data sharing effort as signatories to the Gulf of Maine Ocean Data Partnership are:

  • Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans;
  • Centre for Marine Biodiversity;
  • Coastal Ocean Observation and Analysis, University of New Hampshire;
  • Coastal Services Center, NOAA;
  • Environmental Protection Agency, Atlantic Ecology Division;
  • Gulf of Maine Census of Marine Life;
  • Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment;
  • Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System;
  • Huntsman Marine Science Centre and its Atlantic Reference Centre;
  • Maine Department of Marine Resources;
  • Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Program;
  • Northeast Fisheries Science Center, NOAA
  • St. Andrews Biological Station, Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans;
  • Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA;
  • Wells National Marine Research Reserve;
  • Woods Hole Field Center, USGS

Source: Eurekalert & others

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