Gulf of Mexico Regional Collaborative

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Activities such as coastal development, agriculture, fisheries, shipping, and oil and gas exploration drive the economic health of the Gulf of Mexico region, including both the United States and Mexico. These same activities place the Gulf ecosystem under tremendous stress. Our understanding of the Gulf’s ecological challenges has improved in recent years in localized areas, but our ability to view the entire Gulf as a dynamic ecosystem and make management decisions at this broader scale is limited by our ability to integrate existing knowledge, add new data, and develop innovative decision support tools.

The Gulf of Mexico Regional Collaborative (GoMRC) was formed to address these challenges. GoMRC enables decision-makers and coastal practitioners to identify and test options for natural resources planning and management through an integrated set of ecosystem science, data management, modeling and decision-support tools. The GoMRC system architecture supports a range of natural resource and management issues, many of which require or benefit from common underlying datasets and models for analysis.

During 2007, GoMRC developed a set of search, analysis and visualization tools that can be used to explore a preliminary set of coastal and marine topics. To help demonstrate these capabilities, GoMRC developed a toolset to help resource managers and other stakeholders better understand factors that influence submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) habitat and support the implementation of appropriate SAV restoration decisions. GoMRC also developed a preliminary conceptual model of the causes and effects of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in the Gulf of Mexico, and implemented a domain-specific search capability for HABs.

With continued funding, GoMRC plans to work with regional managers in the Gulf of Mexico to address a broader set of natural resource issues such as sea level change and air quality. This will enable policymakers and resource managers to make more informed and timely decisions about resource issues in the Gulf of Mexico and will in turn enhance and sustain the environment and economy of the region. GoMRC is a partnership of Battelle, The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), and Oregon State University. Together these institutions bring strong expertise in coastal and marine sciences, information technology, and earth observation systems, as well as experience with regional-scale collaborations that address critical resource management challenges.