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US Dept of Commerce / NOAA / OAR / ERL / PMEL

FY 97 Operating Plan for PMEL

Build Sustainable Fisheries

Objective: Advance Fisheries Predictions

Performance Measure: Through process research and coupled physical-biological models, develop models and syntheses that enable managers to incorporate environmental variability into dicussions related to management and sustainable development of regional fisheries (# models or syntheses developed).

Milestone(Q4): Maintain biophysical monitoring system that provides model input data for forecasts of pollock recruitment to the National Marine Fishery Service.
Accomplishments: During spring and summer 1997, Fisheries-Oceanography Coordinated Investigations (FOCI) maintained a biophysical monitoring system in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea. The system comprised moored platforms, research vessels for physical measurements and biological sample collection, satellite-tracked drifters, and other elements. Data from the Gulf of Alaska will be assimilated by FOCI's biophysical model SPEM-IBM. A similar model is presently being developed for the Bering Sea. Monitoring system data and ancillary data from outside the program were used to provide model input data on larval abundance, wind mixing, precipitation, and ocean advection. When submitted to FOCI's pollock recruitment forecast model, information from the system indicated that the 1997 year class of pollock will recruit at AVERAGE levels to the Shelikof Strait fishery. For the Bering Sea, a conceptual model of survival has been proposed as the basis for an index that will track juvenile pollock abundance.

Milestone (Q4): Conduct initial field investigations in support of the Southeast Bering Sea Carrying Capacity (SEBCC) regional ecosystems study.
Accomplishments: Fiscal year 1997 also brought the initial field investigations in support of SEBSCC. From the full FY 1997 FOCI field operations schedule, SEBSCC used about 113 days aboard the research vessels MILLER FREEMAN (NOAA) and WECOMA (UNOLS). Researchers deployed and recovered moorings and drifters, collected walleye pollock eggs, monitored ocean temperature and salinity, and sampled nutrients, phytoplankton, zooplankton, age-0 fish and their predators from the southeastern Bering Sea slope and shelf. In terms of Bering Sea productivity, for March through July, at least, there was much less wind than usual. With the almost flat calm came intense stratification, even in as shallow as 25 m in some places. The upper water column became devoid of nutrients, and for the most part, of chorophyll. Except in the Slime Banks area, nutrients were also depleted in middle domain waters as far offshore as the 60 m contour, and down to nearly the bottom. In many areas the chlorophyll maximum was at the bottom. That means that there is little in the way of food in the upper water column for the prey of surface feeding birds, and that there will be little renewal of food supplies through the summer. One would expect that those predators dependent on the upper water column will have a difficult time of it this year. Other early results from this year describe pollock egg incubation, the area of sustained primary production known as the green belt, and eddies.
Advance Short-Term Warning and Forecast Services

Objective: Improve Service Communication and Utilization

Performance Measure: Advanced Emergency Management Technology and Information

Milestone(Q4): Build and deploy a prototype deep-ocean, moored tsunami detection system.

Accomplishments: The PMEL Tsunami Project seeks to mitigate tsunami hazards to Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska through research and development aimed at improving the speed and accuracy of tsunami warnings. An important part of this effort is the development of a real-time reporting, deep-ocean tsunami detection system, with data transmission through the NOAA GOES satellite to Tsunami Warning Centers. An initial 6-station array is proposed to protect U.S. coastlines. In FY97, on March 24-25, a successful field test of the acoustic link from the ocean bottom to the surface buoy was conducted in deep water off Honolulu, Hawaii, from the Research Vessel MOANA WAVE. An improved surface buoy design was also completed, and two complete prototype systems were fabricated and tested. A cruise was conducted on July 14-22 to deploy the two systems -- one south of the Shumagin Islands, Alaska, the other off the Washington coast. This initial attempt was unsuccessful, due to bad weather and system problems. A second cruise is planned to perform the deployments before the end of FY97.
Implement Seasonal to Interannual Climate Forecasts

Objective: Maintain and Improve Observing and Data Delivery Systems

Performance Measure: Percent of data from observing systems used in predictions; percent of observing system operational.

Milestone(Q4): Maintain the TAO array portion of the TOGA observing system. The 70 deep ocean moorings each will be visited about twice yearly for routine inspection, maintenance, or upgrade as required.
Accomplishments: The Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) array was maintained at nearly full strength during FY97. The real time data stream proved critical for predicting the current El Nino, and provided a day-by-day description of its evolution once underway. The present El Nino evolved extremely rapidly in the first half of 1997, and has reached a magnitude comparable to that of any previous El Nino in the past 50 years (with the exception of the 1982-83 El Nino). The global impacts of this El Nino are already being felt, with drought conditions developing in Australia and Indonesia, an unusually warm winter in Peru, and unusually heavy rainfall in Chile. Excessively warm sea temperatures have developed along the coasts of North and South America, affecting commercially valuable fish stocks and marine ecology.

The TAO group participated in 11 different cruises for 279 sea days on 4 different ships in support of the TAO array in FY97. Total number of person days at sea was 696. A total of 77 moorings were deployed including 13 Next Generation ATLAS moorings, which allow the addition of solar radiation, rainfall, and ocean salinity measurements to the real-time data stream. Data from the array is available through daily updates on the World Wide Web, anonymous FTP, and the Global Telecommunications System (GTS). Data throughput ont eh GTS continues to be typically about 85-90%. Data return from the entire array continues at more than 80% recovery from all sensors.

This year the President's budget called for $4.9M to covert the TOGA Observing System to operational status. The budget request includes $2.3M for TAO. The TAO Project Office supported NOAA and OAR headquarters efforts to promote the initiative, by providing information on technical issues for congressional staffers and the public. It appears at present that this budget initiative will pass.

The TAO Project has obtained funding from the NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Project Office to begin installation of a basin scale moored rainfall and surface salinity array in the tropical Pacific. The array will be built up over the next three years, to coincide with the flight of the TRMM satellite scheduled for launch in late 1997. Initial moorings have been deployed this year with rain and surface salinity sensors in the ITCZ of the eastern Pacific, and the warm pool of the western Pacific. The ITCZ measurements also contribute to NOAA's PACS program. The purpose of these measurements is to provide validation for TRMM satellite rainfall retrievals, to improve our understanding of the hydrologic cycle over the ocean, and to assess the role of the hydrologic cycle in affecting seasonal-to-interannual climate variability.

The Department of Energy/Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program (DOE/ARM) has provided funds for developing a shortwave radiation measurement capability on TAO moorings, and for maintaining an array of moored radiation sensor on buoys in the western Pacific warm pool for several years. The purpose of these measurements is to better understand cloud radiative feedbacks on the climate system in the tropical Pacific, how clouds and radiation are affected by ocean- atmosphere interactions, and how to better parameterize radiative processes in climate models. First deployments of the new TAO/ARM radiation packages took place in June 1997 along 165E.

With the launch of National Space Development Agency (NSCAT) in August 1997, a major new effort began at PMEL in collaboration with UW/APL and WHOI to use TAO data for validation of NSCAT wind velocity retrievals, and for validation of tropical Pacific ocean models run with NSCAT winds. Several significant results have emerged from this analysis, despite the premature failure of NSCAT in June 1997. Most notably, NSCAT underestimates the wind speeds relative to TAO by 1 m/s based on initial comparisons. The source of this low bias is still under investigation. Sea level from TOPEX/POSEIDON and TAO dynamic heights associated with intraseasonal Kelvin waves during the early stages of the 1997 El Nino have been simulated using NSCAT winds as well as ECMWF winds. The two wind fields yield similar responses both in terms of timing and magnitudes of the Kelvin wave response, though NSCAT provides a better definition of small scale features in the wind field that affect oceanic variability.

Document, Predict, and Assess Decadal-to-Centennial Climate Change

Objective: Understand the Role of the Oceans in Global Change

Performance Measure: Implement in situ technologies for physical and chemical ocean observations.

Milestone(Q4): Maintain an observational system to detect and track the flux of heat and chemicals from the Earth's interior to the deep ocean.
Accomplishments: During the FY97 field season the System Underwater Assessment of Vented Emissions (SUAVE) was reconfigured for deployment on a newly fabricated Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) aboard the Canadian research vessel TULLY. The Remotely Operated Platform for Ocean Science II (ROPOS II) successfully tested the SUAVE seafloor exploration package at the Axial Volcano caldera (located 1500 meters below the sea surface and about 250 nautical miles west of Newport, Oregon) in July. Measurements of key chemical species (e.g., hydrogen sulfide, iron, manganese) were made at several sites within the caldera to study temporal changes in hydrothermal systems and to explore for and map the boundaries of newly discovered systems. Clear thermochemical differences were documented, which will be useful in understanding the volcanic, hydrothermal, and bacterial processes occurring in the subseafloor at Axial Volcano, which is the planned location for a long-term microbial biosphere seafloor laboratory.

On April 15, 1996, a RAFOS neutrally-buoyant drifter float was deployed at a depth of ~2000 m into a disorganized plume over the Gorda Ridge west wall. This study was an attempt to test the hypothesis that hydrothermal event plumes (or megaplumes) may have extended lifetimes in the ocean similar to meddies or Gulf Stream rings. The float surfaced on June 10 only 10 km from the deployment site. The float data confirmed that event plumes survive for several months, and that RAFOS technology can be used to track event plumes.

NOAA PMEL scientists continue to be successful in monitoring underwater volcanism using the U.S. Navy SOund SUrveillance System (SOSUS) network. The VENTS T-Phase Project routinely analyzes SOSUS data to detect, locate and interpret seismic activity in the Northeast Pacific Ocean. During the early part of FY97 the Department of Navy initiated a feasibility study to look at the possibility of transferring SOSUS operations to a civilian agency or continue under their own control. A decision was made to keep SOSUS operations under Navy control for at least the next five years. Program scientists also deployed and recovered six PMEL designed autonomous hydrophones (called HARUphones) near existing ATLAS buoys between latitudes 95W and 110W. These hydrophones are recording numerous volcanic episodes and other seismic events along what is known to be the most active spreading center in the world.

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