Science and Research Activities

Ecosystem-based management requires a strong scientific basis. At NOAA numerous programs and projects provide the research and scientific understanding to ensure that management programs have the information and tools they need to implement EBM. The programs below represent a few of the many scientific and research programs supporting EBM at NOAA.

Integrated Ecosystem Assessments

NOAA’s Integrated Ecosystem Assessments (IEA) program supports EBM by providing a next generation tool and helping transfer scientific knowledge to management. IEAs draw on both the natural and human-dimensions sciences to determine the status of coupled Social-Ecological Systems and to evaluate management options. The program is currently being implemented in 5 regions across the United States: the Alaska Complex, California Current, Gulf of Mexico, Pacific Islands, and Northeast Shelf with additional regions in the Great Lakes, Southeast, and Caribbean under development.

IEA Website

Fisheries Ecosystem Science

To improve living marine resource management, NOAA Fisheries is developing the scientific tools required to implement ecosystem based management and ecosystem based fisheries management. These integrated approaches to management account for the impact of the physical and chemical environment on biological communities and their habitats, the biological interactions between species, and anthropogenic impacts.

Fisheries Ecosystem Science Website

Fisheries and the Environment

Fisheries and the Environment (FATE) is a NOAA program that supports NOAA's mission to ensure the sustainable use of U.S. fishery resources under a changing climate. FATE's mission is to provide the information necessary to effectively adapt management to mitigate the ecological, social and economic impacts of major shifts in the productivity of living marine resources. FATE supports fisheries oceanography research that is driven to provide scientific advice on the sustainable use of U.S. fisheries resources under changing environmental conditions. FATE develops climate-sensitive ecological indicators, maintains the time series, examines them for climate trends, and facilitates the incorporation into models used for fisheries and ecosystem management.

FATE Website

Ocean Exploration and Research

NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) catalyzes discovery to transform understanding of the global ocean. OER explores the ocean to enhance research, policy and management decisions, to develop new lines of scientific inquiry, and to advise NOAA and the Nation on critical issues. OER is investing in new technologies, in state-of-the-art platforms, undersea vehicles and infrastructure, in data and information management, in transmission networks, in research programs, and in the efforts to inform and educate society on the importance of a National program dedicated to ocean exploration and research. Through its important work, OER will certainly make discoveries and perform breakthroughs to the benefit of all life on Earth.    

OER Website

National Centers for Coastal and Ocean Science

NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal and Ocean Science (NCCOS) was formed within the National Ocean Service (NOS) in March 1999 as the focal point for coastal ocean science. NCCOS provides research, scientific information and tools to help balance the nation’s ecological, social and economic goals. The research and tools we develop are central to addressing coastal issues raised in legislation and NOAA’s priorities.

NCCOS Website

Large Marine Ecosystems Program

In the mid-1980s, Dr. Kenneth Sherman of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service and Dr. Lewis Alexander of the University of Rhode Island pioneered the concept of large marine ecosystems (LMEs). Sherman, Alexander, and several others recognized that large areas of the oceans function as ecosystems, and that pollution from air, land, and water and overexploitation of living resources, along with natural factors, influenced the varying productivity of these ecosystems. NOAA and international partners have defined 64 LMEs around the world, 11 of which are located within the US Exclusive Economic Zone. In cooperation with the University of Rhode Island, NOAA developed the Large Marine Ecosystem (LME) concept over 30 years ago as a model to implement ecosystem approaches to assessing, managing, recovering, and sustaining LME resources and environments. Today there are 64 LMEs defined globally, of which 11 are located within the US Exclusive Economic Zone.

LME Website

Ocean Acidification Program

Both as part of NOAA’s mission and multiple legislative mandates, it is imperative that we understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment as a consequence of continued acidificiation of the oceans and Great Lakes, and conserve and manage marine organisms and ecosystems in response to such changes. To accomplish this task NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) fosters and maintains relationships with scientists, resource managers, stakeholders, policy makers, and the public in order to effectively research and monitor the effects of changing ocean chemistry on economically and ecologically important ecosystems and species. 

Ocean Acidification Website

Ecological Forecasting

Forecasts are a part of our everyday lives. Weather forecasts help businesses make plans. Economic forecasts help individuals and businesses navigate the uncertainties of the financial world. Similarly, ecological forecasts allow people to answer the “what if” questions in coastal management. Just as a weather forecast may help you decide if you need to pack an umbrella, different types of ecological forecasts help coastal managers and scientists make better decisions based on what may lie ahead for a local beach, a large Bay, or even an entire coast. Improving ecological forecasting capabilities is one of NOAA's top priorities.

Ecological Forecasting Website

This represents a sample of the science and research programs supporting EBM at NOAA, it is not comprehensive. If there are programs you feel should be included please contact us.