AOML's Ocean Chemistry and Ecosystems Division

Gulf of Mexico Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (GoM-IEA)

Humans have long enjoyed a broad spectrum of benefits from the sea termed ecosystem services. Providing sources of seafood, opportunities for recreation, and avenues for transportation and commerce are just a few of the many ways we depend on our oceans. Healthy ocean and coastal habitats also provide protection from storms and the threat of climate change. They serve as buffers to pollution and other stresses. To this list we can add newly emerging prospects for renewable energy from wind, tides, and ocean currents. Because of a desire to live near these benefits, we now face a burgeoning human population concentrated in coastal areas. As a result, the diverse ways in which we take advantage of the services provided by our oceans and coasts carries risk as these demands escalate. It is clear that in order to protect human communities dependent upon our coasts and seas we must first protect these ecosystems. To meet this need, a worldwide movement has emerged that places Ecosystem-Based-Management (EBM) at the center of our approach to safeguard marine ecosystems and their benefits.

To effectively implement EBM requires tools that make science-based EBM tractable to resource managers. The Gulf of Mexico Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (GoM-IEA) will fill this need by providing the scientific products and analyses required to inform EBM. The GoM-IEA recognizes the necessity to maintain ecosystem sustainability and services; therefore, it focuses upon cross-sectoral analyses that investigate the tradeoffs among and between services and sustainability. To accomplish it objectives effectively, the GoM-IEA is a wide-ranging collaboration within NOAA and with outside NOAA partners in the Gulf of Mexico. AOML's contributions include the development of methodologies to conduct integrated risk and scenario analyses that will be used to assess cross-sectoral trade-offs and to inform management decisions that aim to minimize the risk to the ecosystem services and sustain-ability. For use in these and other analyses in the GoM-IEA, AOML develops qualitative, semi-quantitative, and dynamic holistic eco-system models.

Contact Information for OCED/EAM Gulf of Mexico Integrated Ecosystem Assessment Researchers:

NOAA's Gulf of Mexico Integrated Ecosystem Assessment Web Page.