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July 22, 2004
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Building a better ecosystem model

Dr. Brad de Young
Dr. Brad de Young

By Deborah Inkpen
With increasing pressure for a more ecological approach to marine fisheries and environmental management, there is a growing need to understand and predict changes in marine ecosystems. Dr. Brad de Young from Memorial’s Physics and Physical Oceanography has developed a strategy to help researchers design more effective models of the ocean environment. Dr. de Young, working with colleagues from Scotland, the U.S. and France, recently published the article, Challenges of Modeling Ocean Basin Ecosystems in the June 4, 2004, issue of Science magazine. In the article, the researchers build upon recent advances in modeling and observations and develop a new modeling approach for coupling across trophic levels.

Dr. de Young said that, “while biogeochemical and physical oceanographic models are well developed, it is not possible to simply paste the different models together to model zooplankton and fish over ocean basins at climate time-scales. The difficulty arises because organisms at higher trophic levels live longer and vary in abundance and distribution at basin and decadal scales. Marine organisms at higher trophic levels also have complex life histories compared to microbes, further complicating their coupling to lower trophic levels and the physical system. There is no single, fully integrated model that can simulate all possible ocean ecosystem states.”

“Advances in modeling marine ecosystems require coupling numerical formulations across trophic levels that have differing degrees of resolution and embedding these in a basin-scale representation of the physics and biogeochemistry,” said Dr. de Young. “We must also adapt our modeling approaches to account for uncertainties in the data and in our representation of processes.”

To read the full article, visit the Science magazine Web site at www.sciencemag.org/.


 


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