Basin-scale Analysis, Synthesis and INtegration

Workshops and Meetings 2007-2008

What is BASIN?

BASIN is an initiative to develop a joint EU North American research programme in the field of ocean ecosystems in support of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) initiative. The first BASIN meeting took place in Iceland in March 2005 (Wiebe et al., 2007). Four meetings are being held in 2007 to engage both the European and North American communities, explore co-ordinated funding mechanisms and to draft a BASIN Science Plan. The implementation of joint research programmes is at present a significant obstacle facing researchers in many research areas where a large-scale multi-national approach is now needed to tackle the key problems of the future (e.g. climate, ecosystem research). BASIN will seek to identify, with the aid of programme managers, appropriate and effective implementation mechanisms.

Why do we need a Basin scale approach?

One of the key issues facing the scientific community at present is to further our predictive understanding of the complex linkages between physics, chemistry, and biology and their importance for the functioning of marine ecosystems in order to understand, adapt to, and anticipate the effects of global change. Based on the importance of the North Atlantic Basin for global climate and for exploited resources such as fisheries, it is timely and appropriate to conduct a review and develop a science plan focused on the North Atlantic deep ocean and associated shelves examining:
  • The effects of climatic processes on ecosystems and their feedbacks to climate
  • Available observatories and time-series stations
  • Status of basins-scale coupled physical/biological models
  • Existing infrastructure and data management

BASIN will consist of two phases:
The first phase will focus on organising and developing existing data for use in basin-scale marine ecosystem models. Based on these activities, gaps in data and knowledge will be identified necessitating the collection of new data in order to resolve crucial basin-scale problems. Thus, the second phase of BASIN will involve a substantial field effort whose detailed design will be guided by the modelling and synthesis activities accomplished during the first phase, as well as laboratory results.

GEOGRAPHIC DOMAIN: BASIN, as its name implies, focuses on the North Atlantic basin and associated shelf-seas. In developing a programme the geographic scale of BASIN, it is crucial to define the interests and needs of the programme. It has been agreed that the primary focus of BASIN would remain the sub-polar gyre system and associated shelf systems of the North Atlantic, but that important connections to the sub-tropical gyre would not be neglected.

BASIN AIM: At present the aim of BASIN is to understand and simulate the impact of climate variability and change on key species of plankton and fish, as well as community structure as a whole, of the North Atlantic and to examine the consequences for the cycling of carbon and nutrients in the ocean and thereby contribute to ocean management.

LINKS to MANAGEMENT: Useful and relevant results for management are essential to the success of the BASIN programme. BASIN has the potential to offer data, analysis and models that could be included in ecosystem management activities around the whole of the Atlantic basin in a fully integrated way. Explicit plans to coordinate the integration of basic science into management should be developed. One approach is for BASIN to form, from its inception, partnerships with the management agencies in North America and Europe (NOAA/NMFS, DFO, ICES, and DG FISH) to ensure that the science developed is relevant to needs of management.

ACTIVITIES: BASIN is now moving into Phase 2 which seeks to identify an appropriate model for developing and funding a large scale international collaborative programme. The next BASIN workshop will be a meeting between the steering committee members and international funding and programme managers (US National Science Foundation; European Union and the Canadian National Science and Engineering Research Council) to discuss and develop potential proposal and funding models. Thereafter a team of scientists from Europe and North American will collaborate to integrate the results of the science-based workshops with the input received from the programme managers and develop a Science Plan that presents a balanced research programme necessary to address the ambitious goals of BASIN and to present this in the form of a science plan.

BASIN activities have been supported by the European Union through a 6th Framework Specific Support Action and a grant from the US National Science Foundation. Further support has come from the European Union 6th Framework Programme Network of Excellence EUR-OCEANS.

BASIN Specific Support Action (SSA)

Support for BASIN, to hold four meetings in 2007, has been provided by the US NSF and the EU 6th Framework Specific Support Action (SSA) (Sub-Priority The scale of influence of global change and the added value of coordinating the scientific activities of the EU and North American countries to assess, predict, and mitigate the effects on marine ecosystems of the North Atlantic and their services is the justification for the development of the SSA.

These workshops will build on the actions identified in the 2005 BASIN Workshop in Reykjavik jointly funded by NSF and EUR-OCEANS. Full details of the outcome of the Reykjavik meeting can be found in the report:

Wiebe, P.H., R.P. Harris, M.A. St. John, F.E. Werner and B. de Young. (Eds.). 2007. BASIN. Basin-scale Analysis, Synthesis, and INtegration. GLOBEC Report 23 and US GLOBEC Report 20, 1-56pp.