Observations and models to support the first Marine Ecosystem Assessment for the Southern Ocean (MEASO)
Assessments of the status and trends of habitats, species and ecosystems are needed for effective ecosystem-based management in marine ecosystems. Knowledge on imminent ecosystem changes (climate change impacts) set in train by existing climate forcings are needed for adapting management practices to achieve conservation and sustainabililty targets into the future. Here, we describe a process for enabling a marine ecosystem assessment (MEA) by the broader scientific community to support managers in this way, using a MEA for the Southern Ocean (MEASO) as an example. We develop a framework and undertake an audit to support a MEASO, involving three parts. First, we review available syntheses and assessments of the Southern Ocean ecosystem and its parts, paying special attention to building on the SCAR Antarctic Climate Change and Environment report and the SCAR Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean. Second, we audit available field observations of habitats and densities and/or abundances of taxa, using the literature as well as a survey of scientists as to their current and recent activities. Third, we audit available system models that can form a nested ensemble for making, with available data, circumpolar assessments of habitats, species and food webs. We conclude that there is sufficient data and models to undertake, at least, a circumpolar assessment of the krill-based system. The auditing framework provides the basis for the first MEASO but also provides a repository (www.SOKI.aq/display/MEASO) for easily amending the audit for future MEASOs. We note that an important outcome of the first MEASO will not only be the assessment but also to advise on priorities in observations and models for improving subsequent MEASOs.
Authors: Brasier, M.J., Constable, A., Melbourne-Thomas, J., Trebilco, R., Griffiths, Huw ORCID record for Huw Griffiths, Van de Putte, A., Sumner, M.