URI oceanographer to assess impact of climate change on ocean ecosystems and biogeochemical cycles

March 13, 2002

One of the most important problems for oceanographers today is to accurately model and predict how the ocean and its ecosystems and biogeochemical cycles will be affected by global physical climate change and variability. And thanks to a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research, that problem will see significant attention over the next decade.

URI Graduate School of Oceanography physical oceanographer Lewis Rothstein and a team of 15 scientists from several educational institutions and government laboratories are launching the Partnership for Advancing Interdisciplinary Global Modeling (PARADIGM). The initial award will fund the first five years of this ten-year program.

The PARADIGM scientists are committed to building and deploying new, advanced models of ecology and biogeochemistry for understanding and predicting the future states of the ocean. The group combines the expertise of observers and modelers, ecologists and physicists, biogeochemists and numerical modeling specialists with the goal of comparing the physical, biological, and chemical dynamics of the North Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The scientific partnership's objective is to create new global interdisciplinary ocean models that will predict how the ocean and its ecosystems and biogeochemistry will respond to physical climate variability and change.

"Our ability to understand the complexities of the impact of physical global climate change on ocean ecosystem dynamics and biogeochemical cycling, including the carbon cycle, is prerequisite for building the scientific basis for intelligent national policy decisions," said Rothstein. "The PARADIGM approach will be to formally combine observing system data, including satellite and in-situ, data with our best computer models for both a better understanding of ocean processes as well as for predicting the future state of the ocean."

The award was granted through the National Ocean Partnership Program (NOPP). NOPP was co-authored in 1996 by Congressmen Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI) and Curt Weldon (R-PA) to establish partnerships among the public and private sectors in ocean science and research and further establish a national oceanographic agenda.

The PARADIGM partnership includes diverse elements from the oceanographic community, including a multi-disciplinary group of U.S. and Canadian academic researchers, and U.S. federal government researchers and managers from NASA, the Department of Energy, and the Stennis Naval Research Lab. In addition to Professor Rothstein, the Partnership's principal investigator, biological oceanographer James Yoder is also part of the team from URI.

Other academic institutions include Oregon State University, the University of Miami, Dalhousie University, the University of Victoria, the National Consortium for Atmospheric Research, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rutgers University, Old Dominion University, the University of Hawaii, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

"This outstanding scientific team is committed to contributing to a true oceanography oceanographic community effort; solutions to the problems that we have defined depend upon continual input from the entire oceanographic community," said Rothstein. "PARADIGM will also seek collaborations with other earth science disciplines, for example, those who are responsible for designing global atmospheric and terrestrial carbon cycle models."

University of Rhode Island

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