Variability of Ocean Ecosystems around South America (VOCES)

Summary of the project

The overall goal of this project is to assess the impact of climate variability – both natural and anthropogenic – on the Humboldt, Patagonia and South Brazil Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs). These ecosystems are amongst the most productive of the southern hemisphere, sustaining more than 20% of the global fish catch, hosting unique biodiversity and with CO2 absorption rates comparable with the most significant uptake regions of the world’s oceans. To achieve the project’s goal we propose a two-pronged activity plan that, on the one hand will synergize extant research programs through coordination efforts and, on the other hand, will fill research gaps left by those programs by encouraging collaborative research. We will link the efforts of scientists, educators and program managers from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Uruguay and the USA.

Considering the goals and specific objectives mentioned above, the following approaches will be used. 

  • Satellite data: Satellite data provide a unique observational framework to detect large scale changes. We will construct surface temperature, salinity, height, wind and colour time series to characterize the time/space variability of the LMEs.
  • Field observations: Coordinated in situ observations will be conducted in the different projects. The field work design will focus on the acquisition of physical, biological and biogeochemical data to fill existing geographical and thematic gaps. Specifically, we will address the shelf-open ocean exchanges. A substantial effort has already been carried out off the Atlantic Patagonia shelf and we intend to bring the same level of understanding to the exchanges in the outer portions of the southern Brazil shelf. Here, already funded activities of the South Atlantic Meridional Overturning experiment  (Piola serves on the Executive Committee) will be enhanced with the collection of high resolution samples. Preliminary surveys were carried out in 2011 and new surveys are planned for September 2013. Similarly, the glider surveys being conducted off southern Chile (Pizarro, e.g.) will provide the basis for the analysis in this region. In addition, we will augment interdisciplinary and international participation in the Humboldt Current System cruises coordinated by UDEC (CL) and IMARPE (PE).
  • Modelling: we will implement a modeling strategy that combines the analysis of highly idealized process-oriented and realistic regional simulations. We have access to high performance computer facilities located in different institutions that are part of the present proposal. 
  • Analysis of Biological/Fishery Data: compilation and analysis of long term plankton and fisheries data. Different spectral analysis methods will be employed to study the relationship between the biological data and environmental indices. This analysis will be complemented with the analysis of plankton samples collected at ad hoc cruises.

Area of study

Humboldt, Patagonia, and South Brazil Large Marine Ecosystems

Time Table for activities

January 2013 – December 2017