Tremendous advances in oceanographic observing and modeling systems over the last decade have led to unprecedented developments in the nature of information available to marine science. While improvements in observational technologies and networks have garnered much attention, remarkable developments in forecasting the ocean have received much less focus. Exploiting this new predictive skill to improve scientific understanding, generate advice, and aid in the management of marine resources is emerging as one of the new challenges of marine science.
The potential for predicting the ocean far exceeds that of the atmosphere. The slow-dynamics (and therefore "long-memory") of the ocean mean that anomalies can persist for months or longer and can thus be used as the basis for simple persistence forecasts. State-of-the-art global climate prediction systems can increase forecast skill above persistence, adding further value and allowing for higher forecast skill at longer lead times. Moreover, in some areas, most notably in the Northeast Atlantic (but also potentially in the North Pacific and Southern Ocean), statistically meaningful predictive skill of variables such as sea surface temperature has been demonstrated out to five years or more.
Translating these predictions of the physical environment into biological outcomes, on the other hand, is not straightforward. Fisheries scientists, for example, have been trying to understand the links between physics and biology to generate predictions of variables, such as recruitment, for close to a century with limited success. Nevertheless, spatial distributions and the timing of key events, which have received less focus, are often tightly linked to the physical environment and may have management relevant applications.
This session aims to provide an overview of marine forecasting at seasonal-to-decadal scales, a scientific field that is still in its infancy, and allow researchers to share their experiences of developing prediction systems for marine resource management. It is also an opportunity for those involved in advice and management of these systems to get an overview of a rapidly emerging field and consider how this new knowledge can be used to benefit human societies.
We welcome contributions that address all aspects of prediction in marine ecosystems, including: