Trend Analyses and Modeling – Canada

Within the SSMSP, these analytical activities have been identified as an on-going project activity including; retrospective analysis of past data, data management of the present studies and on-going assessments of the data quality and consistency, and ecosystem-based modeling as the analytical framework for this SSMSP.  At present, the retrospective analysis for coho salmon has been completed and has being documented (see Resources Page) and the analysis for Chinook salmon is on-going.

The SSMSP has included funds to continue the research and archiving of data in the Strait of Georgia Data Centre (UBC, Beaty Museum), and this site will provide secure data management for information collated from the SSMSP projects.

In Canada four specific modeling efforts are underway:

Salish Sea Marine Ecosystem Modeling

Team: Angelica Pena, IOS; Ken Denman, ret; post-doc (to begin April 2017)

Dr. Angelica Pena is hiring a post doctoral research scientist position in the area of marine ecosystem modelling. The incumbent will work to implement an individual-based-model (IBM), representing  juvenile salmon, into an existing Salish Sea plankton ecosystem ROMS model to simulate their migration and feeding behaviour in the Strait of Georgia. Research will be conducted at the Institute Ocean Sciences in Sidney, British Columbia, Canada.

Forecasting near and long-term ecosystem changes influencing the population dynamics of adult and juvenile Chinook and Coho Salmon in the Strait of Georgia

Team: Dave Preikshot, Madrone Environmental

A Strait of Georgia ecosystem model will be used to determine how environmental and trophic mechanisms have influenced wild Coho and Chinook Salmon in the Strait of Georgia and how management of hatchery and fisheries policies influenced these changes. These historic dynamics will be used to establish a baseline for forecasting scenarios in which the effects of management policies on wild Coho and Chinook Salmon populations will be assessed under potential future marine production scenarios developed from regional downscaled marine climate models. The four primary objectives of this research will be to;
– identify likely future patterns of environmental variation in response to climate change in the Strait of Georgia to the years 2040 and 2060,
– measure the direction, magnitude and variability of biomass, catch and mortality for Coho Salmon, Chinook Salmon and other commercially fished and managed species in response to simulated environmental change in the Strait of Georgia to the years 2040 and 2060,
– analyze the influence of harvest and other management policy changes on the direction, magnitude and variability of biomass, catch and mortality of Coho salmon, Chinook Salmon and other managed species.
– compare model predictions for Coho and Chinook Salmon dynamics with parallel upper trophic level modelling from colleagues investigating other basins of the Salish Sea.

The long term objectives of this project are as follows:
• to provide the research community with a model that can be used to explore hypotheses of how the Strait of Georgia ecosystem function, particularly in Coho and Chinook Salmon and other upper trophic level species with significant economic, cultural and biological significance,
• to identify significant data gaps and research priorities to improve long-term monitoring and thus our ability to sustainably manage wild populations of Coho and Chinook Salmon in the strait of Georgia
• to provide management with strategic ecosystem level advice that can be used to identify achievable goals for wild Coho and Chinook Salmon populations in the Strait of Georgia.

Project was begun April 1 2016. Dr. Preikshot made some progress in collating some data sets. This project will be rolled into the third modeling effort “Environmental productivity of the Salish Sea: trends, impacts and projections” Mitacs project, led by Villy Christensen, UBC.

Environmental productivity of the Salish Sea: trends, impacts and projections

Team: Villy Christensen, UBC, Dr. Carl Walters and post-docs.

The Salish Sea Marine Survival Project has compiled a vast amount of data sources, and made clear the need to understand how the environmental productivity of the Sea has changed through the time period for which there are sufficient observations to reliably evaluate how environmental productivity has changed along with the consequential impacts throughout the ecosystem. While previous studies have evaluated short-term productivity patterns for the Salish Sea, there has so far only been correlative studies to evaluate the relationship between long-term changes in environmental productivity and the productivity of higher trophic levels organisms (notably salmon) in the ecosystem.

Through this initiative, the researchers intend to develop a coupled biogeochemical model and food web model to evaluate how the combination of changes in environmental productivity, food web structure and human impacts (notably through fishing) has changed in the Salish Sea over three and a half decades. Several post-docs will work to address the SSMSP’s primary objective of assessing if “bottom-up processes driven by annual environmental conditions are the primary determinate of salmon production via early marine survival.”

Project approved and has begun. A post-doc will begin September 2017 to develop a 3D biogeochemical model for the Salish Sea. This project will involve their obtaining environmental data covering the time period back to the 1970s/80s; transferring and implementing the ROMS model to WestGrid; model development and skill assessment; model tuning and validation; and publication.

Spatial and Temporal Variability of Primary and Secondary Production in the Salish Sea from a Coupled Model (SalishSeaCast with SMELT)

Team: Susan Allen, UBC, Elise Olson (post-doc)

Under the NSERC Network of Centres of Excellence MEOPAR (Marine Environment Observation, Prediction And Response) Susan Allen and her group have configured a coupled bio-physics model for the Salish Sea called SalishSeaCast. The model is run daily with high resolution winds and other meteorological forcing, river forcing from over 150 rivers, and temperature, salinity and sea surface at the open boundaries. The physical model is coupled to SMELT (Salishsea Ecosystem Model of Lower Trophic dynamics). The biological model reproduces the expected seasonal cycles in growth, the vertical distribution of phytoplankton, the large spatial gradients between the Strait of Georgia and Juan de Fuca Strait.

A previous, one-dimensional model for the southern Strait of Georgia has been used to accurately forecast the spring bloom, and determine the interannual variability in phytoplankton and carbon cycles in the Strait. Under this project they will investigate the physical factors (wind, freshwater flux, clouds, mixing regions, turbid regions) leading to spatial and temporal variations in primary and secondary productivity. This understanding will then allow us to suggest how the productivity of the Strait has changed and how it may change in the future.

In addition, their model results fields will be provided on the web for other scientists to use.

Their overarching research questions are as follows:
• What processes control primary and secondary productivity in the Salish Sea and how do they, and thus productivity, vary spatially, seasonally and interannually?
• Given what we know about past conditions in the Sea and what is forecast for the future, what do these results imply about past and future primary and secondary productivity?

Project approved and has begun January 2017.