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Modeling Approaches for Scenario Forecasts for Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia

Author(s): Aikman, F.; D.C. Brady; M.J. Brush; P. Burke; C.F. Cerco; J.J. Fitzpatrick; R. He; G.A. Jacobs; W.M. Kemp; J.D. Wiggert (edited by D.M. Kidwell; A.J. Lewitus; E. Turner)


Name of Publisher: NOAA/NOS/NCCOS

Place of Publication: Silver Spring, MD

Publication Type: Report

Date of Publication: 2014

Reference Information: White Paper (2013 Hypoxic Zone Modeling Technical Review Mtg.):

Extent of Work: 46 pp.

Keywords: hypoxia; ecological forecasting; modelling; Gulf of Mexico; dead zone

Abstract: Management efforts focused on mitigating the size and impacts of the northern Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone have been primarily informed by a limited number of statistical models used to make scenario forecasts of nutrient management. To improve the scientific foundation of management decisions, additional modeling approaches have been developed over the last decade that range from statistical models to fully mechanistic hydrodynamic-biogeochemical models. With advancement of a new suite of models, a Modeling Technical Review Panel was convened at the Forum for Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Research Coordination and Advancement on April 17-19, 2013 at Stennis Space Center, MS to assess the state of scenario forecast models and develop conclusions on approaches to most effectively meet needs of management efforts such as the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force. Models were assessed based on their ability to address key management questions, their infrastructure, observational and remaining research needs, and their state of development. Based on modeler presentations and Forum discussions, this white paper assesses the status of several empirical and deterministic models capable of characterizing Gulf hypoxia. The Panel concluded that several empirically-based models are ready for transition to operational use in scenario forecasts of nutrient reduction goals required for hypoxia mitigation. Conversely, deterministic modeling efforts were considered to have made considerable recent advancements, but not fully ready for use in an operational environment for scenario-based hypoxia forecasts. Remaining needs for the deterministic models include: 1) additional calibration/validation against refined estimates of the spatial and temporal extent of hypoxia within the Gulf and against more process-based data sets (primary production, respiration, sediment oxygen demand, nutrient flux, etc.), and 2) the presentation of model sensitivity to key model parameters. Continued refinement of the deterministic modeling efforts is emphasized, with the ultimate goal of developing an ensemble (multiple) modeling approach (empirical and deterministic models) to inform managers of required nutrient reduction goals, both in the short term and under longer climate change scenarios.

Availability: Available from NCCOS Publications Explorer and from the National Coastal Data Development Center

Related Attachment: Download file (.pdf)

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