Systems Science Friday Noon Seminar Series



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In recent decades, great progress has been made in advancing the scientific understanding of the coastal ocean (i.e., the 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)) across a broad set of disciplines. Simultaneously, the societal use of the coastal ocean has skyrocketed through, for example, increased shipping & boating, sports & commercial fishing, and exploitation of non-living resources, such as, oil & gas extraction and sand & gravel mining. International law and national policy assign coastal nations the responsibility for stewardship (i.e., wise management) of their respective EEZs. The scope of the stewardship and applications can be summarized as (1) routine maritime operations (e.g., optimum ship routing, non-deleterious offshore waste disposal, and safe mineral extraction), (2) marine emergency management (e.g., toxic spill response, search-and-rescue events, and homeland security incidents), and (3) marine environmental and ecological management (e.g., monitoring eutrophication events, hypoxic/anoxic zones, and harmful algal blooms; ecosystem-based regulation of fisheries; re-construction of environmental and ecological events through modeling studies, and simulation of the response of the EEZ to various climate change scenarios). However, there is a shortage of good examples of such management/stewardship, perhaps because of an unmet need for new interfaces between the natural scientists on one hand and the engineers, social scientists, and the society-at-large on the other hand. It is argued that one significant component of the needed interfaces is a coastal ocean prediction system comprised of observing subsystems (sensor networks), advanced dynamical (numerical) modeling subsystems, and their “coupling” through skill assessment, data assimilation, and system design. There is clearly a need for a Systems Engineering approach where a user-and-sponsor-based stakeholder group establishes user-requirements and corresponding performance metrics, governance mechanisms are developed, a first-generation system is designed and built, information products are disseminated, and the major parts of the overall system are evaluated as the basis for designing a second-generation system. Because a national program is needed, yet many issues of the coastal ocean have a “regional” character, a Systems Science approach may also be needed to address the respective granularity, connectivity, and resiliency requirements for the broad sets of applications and users involved. The example of the Gulf of Mexico’s highly variable circulation and its BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill (gusher) in 2010 serves to illustrate some of these points.

Biographical Information

Chris Mooers joined the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department as an Affiliated Research Professor in 2008, following his retirement from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) of the University of Miami. His variegated career includes receiving a Ph.D. in (Physical) Oceanography from what is now the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Science (COAS), Oregon State University in 1969. His research interests include mesoscale (fronts, eddies, and meandering jets) physical oceanography, transient wind-driven coastal ocean circulation, and coastal ocean prediction via observations and numerical models.


Coastal zone management, System theory, BP Deepwater Horizon Explosion and Oil Spill (2010), Oceanography -- Remote sensing, Coasts -- Remote sensing, Systems engineering -- Applications to coastal zone management


Oceanography | Other Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology | Systems Engineering

Persistent Identifier

Systems Ideas for the Scientific and Societal Imperatives of the Coastal Ocean: Case of the BP Oil Gusher in the Gulf of Mexico, Spring & Summer 2010