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1993 Peltzer, E.T., and P.G. Brewer. 1993. Some practical aspects of measuring DOC-sampling artifacts and analytical problems with marine samples. Marine Chemistry 41:243-252.

1993 Sharp, J. 1993. The dissolved organic carbon controversy: An update . Oceanography 6:45-50.


The six achievements described above were revolutionary in that they each overturned an old consensus and forced a new reality suddenly onto center stage. Revolutions are fun, particularly for the young at heart, but they are not the only route to scientific progress. The achievements discussed next are evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, in that they consist of steady, stepwise increases in knowledge and understanding. In addition, they involve many individuals; the advance cannot be credited to any one person.


A subtle, but pervasive, achievement of biological oceanography is that modeling has become a mainstream activity; it permeates so much of our work that graduate students in the discipline assume it is integral to biological oceanography. Modeling was at one time an esoteric craft practiced by a gifted few; now it is the norm. Today's biological oceanography graduate student is more likely to have a model than a microscope.

The evolution from Gordon Riley's original models, which were "run" by hand calculation, according to one enduring myth of biological oceanography, to the numerous coupled global ocean-atmosphere-biota models now running is marked by steady advances. A select number of contributors after Riley made improvements, added complexity, and incorporated more sophisticated forcing. The line from Riley (1946) led through John Steele (1959 and 1974), whose slim volume The Structure of Marine Ecosystems (1974) enticed mathematicians, physicists, and physical oceanographers to try their hand at the new craft. Even today one usually finds Steele's volume on the shelves of individuals recruited to biological modeling from the physical sciences.

With new talent entering the field, modeling gathered momentum in the 1970s and 1980s (Walsh, 1975; Jamart et al., 1977; Steele and Frost, 1977; Wroblewski, 1977; Evans and Parslow, 1985; Hofmann, 1988). Genealogies of modeling accomplishments in biological oceanography, impossibly difficult to construct, would be marked by lots of branching and fusion. One important milestone, the Fasham Model (Fasham et al., 1990), was an upper-ocean ecosystem model that was widely distributed by its generous originators. Dozens, if not hundreds, of researchers adapted the Fasham Model to their own ends; this was the code that caused a bloom of biological oceanography models in small computers around the world. One particularly influential application of the Fasham Model that demonstrated the power of physical-biological models was a seasonal North Atlantic ecosystem study by Sarmiento et al. (1993).

Biological oceanography modeling is at the forefront of modeling in a number of areas: the use of data assimilation, coupled physical-biological models, single-species population models, ecosystem models, and the use of massively parallel supercomputers to simulate biogeochemical processes in general circulation models (Hofmann and Lascara, 1998).

The growth of modeling is aptly demonstrated in Brink and Robinson (1998), The Sea, Volume 10, which has three chapters dealing with various aspects of interdisciplinary modeling of the coastal ocean. Together, these three chapters have 371 references. The growth of this area of biological oceanography exceeds the assimilative capacity of a single individual.

NSF programs such as GLOBEC and the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS) are making a significant investment in modeling, but there persists some uncertainty about the best way to manage this powerful new research activity to ensure that the sum of its parts will be realized.

Modeling References

1946 Riley, G.A. 1946. Factors controlling phytoplankton populations on Georges Bank. J. Mar. Res. 6:54-73.

1949 Riley, G.A., H. Stommel, and D.F. Bumpus. 1949. Quantitative ecology of the plankton of the western North Atlantic. Bull. Bingham Oceanog. 12(3):1-169.

1959 Steele, J.H. 1959. The quantitative ecology of marine phytoplankton. Biol. Rev. 34:129-158.

1974 Steele, J.H. 1974. The Structure of Marine Ecosystems. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 128 pp.

1975 Walsh, J.J. 1975. A spatial simulation model of the Peru upwelling ecosystem. Deep-Sea Res. 22:201-236.

1977 Jamart, B.B., D.F. Winter, K. Banse, G.C. Anderson, and R.K. Lam. 1977. A theoretical study of phytoplankton growth and nutrient distribution in the Pacific Ocean off the northwest U.S. coast. Deep-Sea Res. 24:753-773.

1977 Steele, J.H., and B.W. Frost. 1977. The structure of plankton communities. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. Lond. 280:485-534.

1977 Wroblewski, J.J. 1977. A model of phytoplankton plume formation during variable Oregon upwelling . J. Mar. Res. 35:357-394.

1985 Evans, G.T., and J.S. Parslow. 1985. A model of annual plankton cycles. Biological Oceanography 3:327-347.

1987 Frost, B.W. 1987. Grazing control of phytoplankton stock in the open subarctic Pacific Ocean: A model assessing the role of mesozooplankton, particularly the large calanoid copepods, Neocalanus spp. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 39:49-68.

1988 Hofmann, E.E. 1988. Plankton dynamics on the outer southeastern U.S. continental shelf. III. A coupled physical-biological model. J. Mar. Res. 46:919-946.

1990 Fasham, M.J.R., H.W. Ducklow, and S.M. McKelvie. 1990. A nitrogen-based model of plankton dynamics in the oceanic mixed layer. J. Mar. Res . 48:591-639.

1993 Sarmiento, J.L., R.D. Slater, M.J.R. Fasham, H.W. Ducklow, J.R. Toggweiler, and G.T. Evans. 1993. A seasonal three-dimensional ecosystem model of nitrogen cycling in the North Atlantic euphotic zone. Global Biogeochem. Cycles 7:417-450.

1998 Brink, K.H., and A.R. Robinson (eds.). 1998. The Sea, Vol. 10,

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