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North American Carbon Program (NACP) and Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry (OCB) Interim Coastal Carbon Synthesis

The contribution of coastal margins to regional and global carbon budgets is<br/>not well understood, largely due to limited information about the magnitude, spatial distribution,<br/>and interannual variability of carbon sources and sinks in coastal waters. The Ocean Carbon &<br/>Biogeochemistry (OCB) Program has been collaborating with the North American Carbon<br/>Program (NACP) over the past two years to develop a Coastal Interim Synthesis Activity as part<br/>of the NACP Interim Synthesis activities, the goals of which are to bring together relevant<br/>observations, data, and modeling efforts in an effort to identify and quantify key sources, sinks,<br/>stocks, fluxes, and associated processes in the North American carbon budget. The objective of<br/>the Coastal Interim Synthesis Activity is to synthesize individual, small-scale observational and<br/>modeling studies from different regions of the North American continental margin across<br/>broader spatial and temporal scales to improve quantitative assessments of the North American<br/>coastal carbon budget. Because the coastal oceans have important and complex linkages with<br/>terrestrial, atmospheric, and open ocean biogeochemical cycles, it is important to provide for the <br/>participation of researchers focused on both organic and inorganic carbon, as well as nitrogen<br/>and phosphorus cycle topics related to carbon balance and related issues such as hypoxia<br/>impacts on continental margins.<br/><br/>With support through this award to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), OCB <br/>scientists from WHOI, the University of Alaska - Fairbanks, and the University of South Florida <br/>will convene two workshops to facilitate data gathering and synthesis efforts related to coastal <br/>carbon budgets in five regions?East Coast (including Gulf of Maine), West Coast (including Gulf <br/>of Alaska), Gulf of Mexico, Arctic (including marginal seas such as the Bering, Chukchi, Beaufort, <br/>and Baffin-Labrador), and Great Lakes. Additional funding to support these efforts will be provided <br/>by NASA and NOAA.<br/><br/>Broader Impacts: Coastal margins represent a significant unknown in the North American<br/>carbon budget. By leveraging the shared community expertise of two leading U.S. carbon cycle<br/>science programs (NACP and OCB), this project will improve coastal carbon sink/source<br/>estimates and facilitate the community interaction needed to ensure a seamless transition<br/>between land and sea in our understanding of the most important processes driving the North<br/>American carbon cycle. The proposed approach convenes scientists with specialized<br/>knowledge of regionally important physical and biogeochemical processes to develop robust<br/>regional coastal carbon budgets that more effectively account for some of the inherent spatial<br/>and temporal variability of coastal systems. Another key outcome of this project will be a<br/>tremendously valuable historic dataset that will improve our understanding of the carbon cycle<br/>and inform public discussion and policy making on issues related to climate change, human<br/>health, and fisheries, all of which are intimately linked to carbon cycling. Recovery of these data<br/>and their incorporation into a publicly accessible data base will enhance the development of<br/>predictive models for coastal regions and also enable more comprehensive linkage of land,<br/>atmosphere, and ocean modeling of carbon dioxide and the carbon cycle. There are currently<br/>>50 years of observations in most U.S. coastal regions, providing much-needed historical<br/>context to monitor the health of coastal ocean ecosystems, which are becoming increasingly<br/>vulnerable to threats of ocean acidification, eutrophication, and hypoxia.

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