August 9, 2004
$2.4 million grant supports research on coastal
ecosystems at UCSC and other Monterey Bay institutions
By Tim Stephens
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has awarded
a grant of more than $2.4 million to support the Center for Integrated
Marine Technologies (CIMT), a collaborative partnership led by UCSC.
CIMT efforts are focused on the Monterey Bay region of the Monterey
Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Image courtesy of MBNMS
The center brings together a diverse group of scientists from six partner
institutions around Monterey Bay to study the processes that drive California's
highly productive coastal ecosystems.
The new grant provides ongoing funding for CIMT's "Wind to Whales"
research program, which is using new technological approaches to monitor
and understand the complex web of physical and biological interactions
in the Monterey Bay ecosystem. Wind-driven upwelling of nutrient-rich
deep water along California's Central Coast stimulates massive blooms
of phytoplankton that support a rich web of marine life, including productive
fisheries, seabirds, sea turtles, and marine mammals.
A key part of the center's mission is to pull together a highly diverse
array of data collected by a range of technologies and present the data
in an integrated fashion, making it readily accessible to scientists,
resource managers, and the public. These efforts are helping to establish
the core technologies for a national integrated ocean observing system,
a top priority for NOAA and other federal agencies.
"CIMT serves as a regional pilot project for what they would like
to do nationwide," said Gary Griggs, director of UCSC's Institute
of Marine Sciences and chair of CIMT's Board of Directors.
In addition to UCSC, CIMT's partner institutions include the Monterey
Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), Moss Landing Marine Laboratories,
the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, the Monterey Bay National
Marine Sanctuary, and the National Marine Fisheries Service Laboratory
in Santa Cruz. CIMT was established in 2002 with a $2 million grant
from NOAA and received an additional $2 million grant last year.
Researchers involved in the center include physical, biological, and
geochemical oceanographers; ecologists; resource managers; remote sensing
experts; and instrumentation and networking engineers.
CIMT scientists conduct monthly surveys of Monterey Bay on the research
vessel John Martin out of Moss Landing, gathering an abundance
of data on oceanographic conditions and life in the bay, from phytoplankton
to whales. For more continuous measurements of oceanographic conditions,
instruments are deployed on moorings in the bay. MBARI, in association
with CIMT, has developed an advanced mooring system that can monitor
oceanographic processes in near real-time, and the center is expanding
the number of these moorings in Monterey Bay.
In addition to the surveys and moorings, high-frequency radar from
shore-based stations is used to monitor surface currents, while satellite
observations are used to measure sea-surface temperatures and estimate
All these measurements are being used to investigate linkages between
coastal upwelling, nutrient delivery, phytoplankton growth, and the
distribution, abundance, and productivity of organisms such as squid,
fish, seabirds, sea turtles, and whales. Ultimately, the researchers
would like to be able to predict how the system will respond to short-
and long-term changes in oceanographic conditions, such as El Niño
events and climate change.
"This NOAA grant will increase our understanding of the influence
the oceans have on our living marine resources and thereby gain new
tools for the effective management and stewardship of them," said
retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, under secretary of commerce
for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.
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