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Environmental Measurements and Modeling

Symposium on Integrated Modeling Analysis to Support the Management and Restoration of Large Aquatic Ecosystems 2010

Putting the Best Available Science and Information Technology to Use: Integrated Modeling and Analysis to Support the Management and Restoration of Large Aquatic Ecosystems

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The visible signs of a major water-body under stress are profound and are impacting waters throughout the United States and across the globe:

  • Harmful algal blooms
  • Hypoxia
  • Habitat loss
  • Nuisance species invasions
  • Declining fish and shellfish populations
  • Waters unsafe for drinking or swimming  

Large aquatic ecosystems such as the Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes and Puget Sound are facing some of the Nation’s most complex water resources and ecosystem management challenges. These systems are very complicated networks of correlated hydraulic, hydrological, ecological, geochemical, biological, and atmospheric components, supporting a variety of processes. In addition to housing an amazingly diverse array of plants and wildlife, these large aquatic ecosystems support many important economic activities. The stress on these ecosystems from urban sprawl, air and water pollution, invasive species, and climate change has wide ranging impacts on the quality of life in their vicinity. Consequently, restoration of these large aquatic ecosystems is increasingly viewed as a national priority.

Developing strategies for the management and restoration of large aquatic ecosystems relies on scientific analyses that connect the multiple pressures on these systems to multiple ecological responses of concern. Over the past 4 decades, there has been considerable investment in understanding the science related to the processes at play in large aquatic ecosystems in order to inform actions that may reduce the stress. In addition to monitoring, computer models have been used for a variety of purposes, including identifying the sources of pollution, predicting episodes of hypoxia, and evaluating different management strategies and activities. Given the multi-scale and multi-media challenges associated with understanding and restoring large aquatic ecosystems, integrated modeling and analysis is an especially useful approach.

About the Symposium

EPA convened this symposium on January 20-21, 2010, at the Marriott at Metro Center, Washington, DC, to develop a roadmap for the design and application of multi-media, multi-scale and multi-disciplinary models to support the protection and restoration of large aquatic ecosystems.

Symposium Purpose

The symposium was designed to:

  • Facilitate a discussion of the common multi-media, multi-scale and multi-disciplinary challenges facing the development and application of integrated models for large aquatic ecosystems
  • Provide a forum for coordination, discussion, and exchange of information across disciplines, including ecologists and other natural scientists, environmental engineers, and economists and other social scientists
  • Help ensure that model development is aligned with the policy design, management and decision-making needs of the large aquatic ecosystems
  • Identify successful model development practices that may be widely shared and applied
  • Identify areas requiring further research and analysis, especially those with cross-media implications

Symposium Participation

Participation in this meeting was open to participants from within and outside EPA who are interested or involved in the development and use of environmental models for large aquatic ecosystems.  The 130 symposium participants represented EPA, NOAA, USGS, USACE, universities and consulting.

Note: Development of the symposium report was led by SCG, Inc., under contract to EPA. (Some individual EPA experts contributed specific discussions on topic(s) for which he or she has scientific expertise or knowledge of current Agency practice). The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of EPA and should not be construed as implying EPA consent or endorsement.

For more information on EPA large aquatic ecosystem programs, please visit the Council of Large Aquatic Ecosystems website.

Symposium Materials

Below are the workshop materials including the participant guide and report.

Symposium Report

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