Sep 18
Wednesday round-up

With a break in opening plenary lectures (the third and final arrives tomorrow), Wednesday presented the chance to crack straight on with the continuation of theme sessions. 

Zooplankton of the gelatinous kind, mostly jellyfish, was on the menu (not literally) in one theme session. You can read more about gelatinous zooplankton in an earlier blog post​.

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Various subjects were explored, including the potential for these creatures to bloom ​in the Barents Sea off the northern coasts of Russian and Norway, limiting the habitats of certain open-ocean (pelagic, to translate to expert lingo) fish like capelin.​ 

An unusual but successful addition to this theme session was a presentation by Line Reeh, press officer at the Technical University of Denmark's National Institute of Aquatic Resources​. Using zooplankton as the angle, she enlightened the audience on the benefits of communicating science to a wider public. She also talked about the unsung jellyfish, which has accounted for a mere 1% of all scientific literature on fish over the last 14 years, to be cast as something other than the 'a villain' in scientific stories.

Another theme session, entitled 'Physical and biological consequences of North Atlantic circulation patterns' (one of​ the shorter titles...)​​​ addressed issues like ​​the interlinkage between climate variability (a word that in marine science denotes natural fluctuations) and salinity in the Baltic Sea.

​The gargantuan session G, lasting several days, also held more in store.​ Risk assessment was under the microscope this time, and there was plenty of activity from those taking part of Twitter​.

​Open for business

After a two-hour lunch break - we're on Spanish, or Galician, time here so of course leisurely long lunches and siestas need to be modelled in - the second batch of Science Committee open sessions (the first lot were on Monday) got underway​.

​A process known as benchmarking - or assessments of assessments, to put it overly-simply - engaged those watching in the Aaro auditorium. You can get a quick-and-dirty 101 of benchmarking here. ​Presentations on complex models, concerns on vulnerable species​​, and (see one chairs explanation of them) were made and a lively discussion ensued at the end.

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​Phil Levin from NOAA​ talked extensively and engagingly on indicators. Here, is his indicator menu (restaurant analogies and examples have featured quite a bit this week) from which managers can pick grouped-togethe​r ​​indicators to help build a picture of the ecosystem to fit their goals.

Levin is also giving tomorrow's third and final special plenary lecture.​​

At the same time, those present at the ICES Strategic Initiative for Stock Assessment Methods (SISAM) ​were treated to a number of informative talks, with a notably humerous moment coming in the shape of a stock assessment metaphor from co-Chair Ciaran Kelly​, which pointed at the difficulties faced in the process.

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'Oh F**K, looks like selection has changed!' One of Kelly's lighter-hearted (yet with a meaningful message) slides at the open session.

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Another head-scratching question from Kelly's presentation.


The ICES/PICES​ Strategic Initiative on Climate Change (SICCME), meanwhile, drew a sizeable crowd into a smallish modular room to go over key findings from the 5th International Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) report​​. Lead authors Matt​ Collins, Svein Sundby, ​Anne Hollowed and Jake Rice presented information extracted from the report on the likes of long-term climate projections, ​​regional implications and impacts of climate change, and mitigation. 

For the latter Jake Rice asked the question 'why is the ocean missing?' before striking at the heart of the issue of the need to share the burden. Climate change is a global commons problem, he argued, and it's unfair to ask developing countries to cap emissions ​just so the west can carry on with their way of life. "We need to get carbon policies implemented, not adopted," he said. 

He also expressed his wish to see ICES and PICES collaborate to scope the capacity for carbon-free energy installations in coastal regions such as tiday power. 

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Svein Sunby addressing the audience on the climate change predictions from the report

Bigger fish to fry

Big data. What's that then? And what are the challenges for ICES community? ​Co-chair of another afternoon open session on the subject, Germany's Jörn Schmidt, explained:

"We’re starting to look at the data in a more integrated manner, so not just one survey but a flow of info over at least a century. This is just increasing so we need to look at distributed datasets – not only traditional parameters like satellite, biological, oceanographic data but also human data like VMS (vessel monitoring system) data logbook (recorded by fishermen at sea) and catch data. There’ are different sets of data we want to exploit and we need to look at different technologies to do that.

We have an increasing number of sensors and data collection frameworks that we use, and just thinking about all the satellite data and oceanographic data and from surveys. We have access to sensors collecting data on traditional parameters like salinity, temperature depth, but also now including all this stuff on pH, nutrients, microchemistry like rare elements, phyto and zooplankton, etc. ​

We facing a time where there’s a huge amount of data available and we need to find ways to move us through these things.

Tweet of the day

​This little number, from Jens Rasmussen​ (quoted from Michael J. Schirripa theme session G talk):

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