ESSAS Working groups

Working Group 1 - Regional Climate Prediction (WGRCP)

Introduction

A major goal of ESSAS is to predict the potential impacts of climate variability on the sustainable use of the sub-arctic seas. ESSAS has elected to employ a comparative approach, investigating in each of the sub-arctic seas which energy pathways appear particularly vulnerable to decadal and longer-term climate change. The ecosystem response to climate can be non-linear with thresholds, have complex interactions between species, and different species impacts from similar climate fluctuations. Reducing uncertainty about the future states of ESSAS ecosystems depends on knowledge of the response of the ecosystem to changes in climate and a quantitative ability to project future climate states. The first task represents understanding and modeling the complex linkages between climate variables and species distributions and is a primary focus of the other two ESSAS Working Groups (ESSAS Working Group 2: Biophysical Coupling Mechanisms and ESSAS Working Group 3: Modeling Ecosystem Responses).

A Goal of the Working Group on Regional Climate Prediction (WGRCP) is to provide quantitative estimates of the magnitude and uncertainty of future climate change for the ESSAS regions, and the frequency distribution of natural variability, such as the well known ecosystem reorganization of the North Pacific in the mid-1970s and historical interdecadal variability in the marginal seas of the North Atlantic. Climate elements known to be crucial to ESSAS ecosystems include sea ice cover, ocean temperature, circulation, and stratification.

A major resource for the development of future climate scenarios is the recently available results from 22 state-of-the art coupled atmosphere-ocean climate models which are part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). A preliminary investigation has shown that a subset of these models represents the physical forcing in several ESSAS ecosystems reasonably well based on comparison with in situ data for the late 20th century. There are several factors that lead to the perceived credibility of future climate scenarios from climate models, including the differences between models, validation exercises for different physical variables, and matching the spatial scales that are important to ecosystem biology.

Tasks

  1. Evaluate the credibility of the 22 IPCC models as applied to each of the different ESSAS regions based on comparison of 20th century hindcasts with data, and model to model consistency and physical reliability in their forecasts. Produce a report which provides recommendations on which models perform well for each region.
  2. Working within the larger ESSAS framework, establish which seasons, regions and variables are most important to potential ecosystem shifts and provide report on future scenarios and confidence estimates of these conditions for different future time horizons. Assess the contributions from intrinsic climate variability and external anthropogenic forcing.
  3. Recommend IPCC models and procedures for downscaling of the model output for use in regional ocean/ecosystem models.
  4. Be a community resource on retrospective and future climate change issues.

Implementation

  1. The Working Group on Prediction shall exist for a period of three years, ending six months after the 2009 annual meeting of ESSAS.
  2. Six to eight members will be chosen from the fields of climate science and numerical modeling. Input from experts on ecosystem processes will be sought through collaboration with ESSAS WG 2 and 3.
  3. The development of the proposed products includes conducting workshops held at the annual ESSAS meetings and will require inter-sessional work. The purpose of the workshops is to vett and reach consensus on information made available prior to the workshops from the published IPCC Reports and from direct model evaluations provided by members.

Expected Results

To ensure the perceived credibility of future regional climate scenarios, we will develop a white paper after the ESSAS Workshop in 2007 that examines the differences between IPCC models, identifies the spatial scales and variables that are of relevance to ecosystem-effects of climate change, and delineates further validation exercises for different physical variables that have been performed.

After the ESSAS Workshop in 2008, we plan to have a set of climate predictions for the major ESSAS ecosystems, based on the IPCC climate models. These regional climate scenarios will have sufficient credibility that they can be used by other ESSAS Working Groups as the basis for their ecosystem modeling efforts.

Membership

A list of the initial members of ESSAS WG 1 is as follows:

James Overland, acting Chair, USA
Lennart Bengtsson Germany
Paul Budgell Norway
Vladimir Kattsov Russia
Ken Drinkwater Norway
Mike Foreman Canada
Hisashi Nakamura Japan
John Walsh USA


Working Group 2 - Bio-Physical Coupling (WGBPC)

Introduction

A major goal of ESSAS is to predict the potential impacts of climate variability on the sustainable use of the Sub-Arctic seas. ESSAS has elected to employ a comparative approach, investigating, in each of the sub-arctic seas, which energy pathways appear particularly vulnerable to decadal and longer-term climate change. The ecosystem response to climate can be non-linear with thresholds, have complex interactions between species, and feature different species responses to similar climate fluctuations in different ecosystems. Reducing uncertainty about the future states of ESSAS ecosystems depends on developing the ability to project future climate states as well as predicting the response of the ecosystem to changes in climate. Predicting future climate states is the primary focus of ESSAS Working Group I on Regional Climate Prediction. This requires quantitative estimates of the magnitude and uncertainty of future climate change for the ESSAS regions, and the frequency distribution of natural variability, such as the well-known ecosystem reorganization of the North Pacific in the mid-1970s and historical inter-decadal variability in the marginal seas of the North Atlantic. Predicting ecosystem response requires both understanding and modeling the complex linkages between climate variables and species distributions. This represents the primary focus of two ESSAS Working Groups (ESSAS Working Group 2: Biophysical Coupling Mechanisms and ESSAS Working Group 3: Modeling Ecosystem Responses).

A Goal of the Working Group on Bio-Physical Coupling (WGBPC) is to determine how climate-driven variability in physical conditions and processes in the ocean will affect the organisms that make up marine ecosystems and thus the transfer of energy and material through sub-arctic marine ecosystems. Physical aspects of the ocean thought to be crucial to ESSAS ecosystems include sea ice cover, ocean temperature, circulation, and stratification.

A great deal is already known about the responses of organisms to physical variability in the ocean, but the literature is scattered and there is need to summarize what is known specifically about the responses of populations and the ecosystem as a whole in the Sub-Arctic seas and how information gathered in one basin may be applied to ocean regions elsewhere in the Sub-Arctic. Thus a major task for the WGBPC will be to provide the modelers in the ESSAS WGMER with realistic values for parameterizing predictive models of ecosystem response to climate variability.

Tasks

  1. Summarize and evaluate the available information on the responses of marine organisms of the Sub-Arctic seas from phytoplankton to marine mammals and seabirds to variability in physical attributes of the ocean such as seasonal sea ice cover, ocean temperature, stratification, and circulation.
  2. Working within the larger ESSAS framework, provide the WGMER with a realistic set of values with which to model organism responses to climate-driven variability in the physical attributes of the Sub-Arctic seas.
  3. Be a community resource on retrospective and future climate change issues.

Implementation

  1. The Working Group on Bio-Physical Coupling shall exist for an initial period of three years, ending six months after the 2009 annual meeting of ESSAS. At this time, the ESSAS SSC will evaluate whether the WG should continue, be revised slightly or dissolved.
  2. Eight to ten members will be chosen from the fields of biological and fisheries oceanography. Input from experts on future climate variability and the needs of ecosystem modelers will be sought through collaboration with ESSAS WG 1 and 3, respectively.
  3. The development of the proposed products includes conducting workshops held at the annual ESSAS meetings and will require inter-sessional work. The purpose of the workshops is to review information on how changes in various physical attributes of the ocean will affect important ecosystem components. Foci of workshops will include the roles of: seasonal sea ice cover, temperature, stratification and circulation.

Expected Results

Workshop products will be one or more review papers based on comparative studies, to be published in the refereed literature, that summarize the important mechanisms whereby the changes in the physical attribute under discussion affect biological constituents of Sub-Arctic ecosystems and their inter-relationships. Where possible, these papers should provide the information necessary for parameterizing the biophysical coupling parameters in ecosystem models of the sub-arctic seas. Where sufficient data are lacking to accomplish this task, there should be a clear statement concerning the lack of specific data that could guide fieldwork during ESSAS.

Membership

A list of the initial members of ESSAS WG2:

George L. Hunt, Jr. USA, Acting Chair
Earl Dawe Canada
Elena Dulepova Russia
Erica Head Canada
Franz Mueter USA
Emma Orlova Russia
Vladimir Ozhigin Russia
Vladimir Radchenko Russia
Marit Reigstad Norway
Sei-ichi Saitoh Japan
Egil Sakshaug Norway
Yasunori Sakurai Japan
Paul Wassermann Norway
Kai Wieland Denmark

Working Group 3 - Modelling Ecosystem Response (WGMER)

Introduction

A major goal of ESSAS is to predict the potential impacts of climate variability on the sustainable use of the sub-arctic seas. ESSAS has elected to employ a comparative approach, investigating in each of the sub-arctic seas which energy pathways appear particularly vulnerable to decadal and longer-term climate change. Ecosystem-level response to climate can vary spatially, geographically, and ontogentically. It can manifest itself locally (i.e. be non-linear with threshold responses), involve complex species-to-species interactions (i.e. ecosystem reorganization in response to climate change, and/or demonstrate different within-species responses between different regional geographic locations within the same ocean basin, all originating from similar climate fluctuations.

Reducing uncertainty about the future states of ESSAS ecosystems depends on knowledge of the response of the ecosystem to changes in climate and a quantitative ability to project future climate states. The first ESSAS goal of prediction requires a fundamental understanding of climate-biological interactions. With understanding comes the ability to model the complex linkages between climate variables and species distributions, which are the primary focus of the other two ESSAS Working Groups (ESSAS Working Group 1: Regional Climate Prediction and ESSAS Working Group 2: Biophysical Coupling Mechanisms).

The goal of the Working Group on Modeling Ecosystem Response (WGMER) is to develop conceptual, mechanistic/process, statistical/empirical, and simulation models to facilitate comparison of ESSAS ecosystems and to forecast the impacts of climate change on ecosystem structure and function in multiple ESSAS ecosystems.

Much data has already been collected in ESSAS ecosystems. Thus a major task of WGMER will be to inventory these data and evaluate the suitability of using these data in comparative analysis, modeling and forecasting climate impacts.

Tasks

  1. Identify modeling methodologies that will facilitate comparison of the biological, physical, and trophodynamic aspects of the ESSAS ecosystems across regions. Identify and suggest suitable conceptual, mechanistic/process, statistical/empirical, and simulation models to examine for potential application.
  2. Assemble existing biophysical datasets and time series from ESSAS ecosystems to facilitate joint comparative studies.
  3. Apply the identified candidate models and modeling techniques to ESSAS ecosystems and ecosystem data sets to describe and validate the models.
  4. Evaluate ESSAS modeling proposals and offer recommendations to the SSC.

Implementation

  1. The Working Group on Modeling Ecosystem response shall exist for a period of three years, ending six months after the 2009 annual meeting of ESSAS.
  2. Six to eight members will be chosen from the fields of quantitative ecology and fisheries oceanography. Input from experts on future climate variability and ecosystem process will be sought through collaboration with ESSAS WG 1 and 2, respectively.
  3. The development of the proposed products will include conducting workshops held at the annual ESSAS meetings and also inter-sessional workshops as required. The purpose of the workshops will be to review candidate modeling methodology, to facilitate ecosystem comparisons, and the identification of suitable data sets. Inter-sessional work will involve pre-workshop preparation, data analysis, model coding, model application post-workshop report preparation, and the preparation of peer-reviewed manuscripts.

Expected Results

Workshop products will be one or more review papers, to be published in the refereed literature, that summarize the important ecosystem features that facilitate comparison.

Other products will include short position reports on the models evaluated, strategies for implementing the models, recommendations on future data collection and on synthesis of existing data, and methodological recommendations for ensuring appropriate among and between ecosystem comparisons. Joint efforts on these and other specific topics will be done in collaboration with the WG1 and WG2.


Membership

The initial members of WG3 are as follows:

Bernard A. Megrey USA, Co-Chair
Shin-ichi Ito Japan, Co-Chair
Kenneth Rose USA, Co-Chair
Paul Budgell Norway
Lorenzo Ciannelli USA
Dr. Masahiko Fujii Japan
Gennady Kantakov Russia
Franz Mueter USA