Home > Explore Projects > Scenarios and Tradeoffs: Providing Useful Models to Coastal Managers
NCCOS Project

Scenarios and Tradeoffs: Providing Useful Models to Coastal Managers

This project began in January 2011 and was completed in December 2014

Many agencies at the federal, state, and regional level need to use ecosystem models to help them predict the results of different management actions on coastal ecosystems. These models weigh the trade-offs of management decisions and resource use. This project gathers and organizes information concerning the modeling needs of these agencies with the goal of improving the usefulness of the models and making the models more accessible to coastal managers.

Why We Care
Coastal management decisions will frequently involve trade-offs. Often alternative actions need to be evaluated in light of their projected consequences, including ecological, economic, and societal outcomes. Models that can project alternative outcomes are called “scenario models." An important goal for scenario models is to provide resource managers with enough information to describe and predict ecological conditions, while still providing a clear set of potential outcomes related to different management actions. This project explores how scenario models can be made more useful for management and policy decisions.

What We Are Doing
This project will bring together the needs of federal, state and regional resource managers for realistic scenarios and projections. The research group will use input from coastal managers, modelers, regulators and policymakers to develop a synthesis of needs and modeling approaches that fit those needs. The project team, led by James Fitzpatrick of HydroQual, Inc., includes researchers from the University of Michigan, University of Delaware, University of Maine, University of Maryland, and Limno-Tech, Inc. A major goal is to examine how scenario models can move from the academic realm to being more readily available and useful in a management context.

Project goals include:

  • Assemble model scenario and forecast needs from the coastal regions of the country.
  • Review existing documents and results of previous model development.
  • Conduct interviews with managers and staff of the appropriate federal, state, and regional agencies.
  • Design and participate in multi-day workshop with ecosystem model developers, practitioners, and users.

The project will culminate with the workshop that will inform participants of regional ecosystem forecast needs, experiences and current capabilities and they will be asked to provide information as to the types of models now available or that can be developed to satisfy these needs. Participants will identify data needs, skills required, reliability needed and the readiness of the models to provide high-quality information to regional water quality and ecosystem managers. This project is under the NCCOS Regional Ecosystem Prediction Program (REPP).

Benefits of Our Work
The findings will be used by NCCOS, NOAA and other agencies to increase the accessibility and long-term utility of existing and new scenario and forecast models for coastal managers and other users.

Additional Resources

Click to expand resource list(s).

Explore Similar Projects
No posts found.


NCCOS delivers ecosystem science solutions for stewardship of the nation’s ocean and coastal resources to sustain thriving coastal communities and economies.

Stay Connected

Sign up for our quarterly newsletter or view our archives.

Follow us on Social

Listen to our Podcast

Check our our new podcast "Coastal Conversations"