Study in Progress
Effects of the Deepwater Horizon Mississippi Canyon-252 Oil Spill on Ecosystem Services in the Gulf of MexicoOcean Studies Board
Effects of the Deepwater Horizon Mississippi Canyon-252 Oil Spill on Ecosystem Services in the Gulf of Mexico - 01/24/11
Restoring Ecological and Economic Vitality to the Gulf of Mexico: An Exploration of the National Research Council Report - 11/16/11
Effects of the Deepwater Horizon Mississippi Canyon-252 Oil Spill on Ecosystem Services in the Gulf of Mexico - 03/24/11
Statement of Task
In order to evaluate the loss of ecosystem services in the Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem due to the Deepwater Horizon Mississippi Canyon-252 spill, it is necessary not only to collect and analyze information related to specific types of services, but also to identify relationships among the lost ecosystem services and assess interdependencies. An evaluation of the effects of the spill on ecosystem services in the Gulf will require consideration of the effects of other human activities that have changed the balance of ecosystem services in the region. The report will provide a framework to assist federal agencies in assessing the effects of the oil spill on ecosystem services within the context of other human activities. In the foregoing context, an ad hoc committee will conduct a study and prepare a report addressing the following questions:
(1) What methods are available for identifying and quantifying various ecosystem services, at spatial and temporal scales conducive to research, that provide meaningful information for the public and decision-makers?
(2) What kinds of valuation studies and metrics are appropriate to measure the recovery of ecosystem services over time with regard to each of the following: natural processes, mitigation, and restoration efforts? What baseline measures are available that would provide benchmarks for recovery and restoration efforts?
(3) Is there sufficient pre-spill baseline information available to separate oil spill impacts from impacts of other human activities? What methods are available to help distinguish impacts specific to the spill?
(4) What ecosystem services (provisioning, supporting, regulating, and cultural services) were provided in the Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem prior to the oil spill? How do these differ among the subregions of the Gulf of Mexico?
(5) How did the spill affect each of these services in the short-term, and what is known about potential long-term impacts given the other stresses, such as coastal wetland loss, on the Gulf ecosystem?
(6) How do spill response technologies (e.g., dispersant use, coastal berm construction, absorbent booms, in situ burning) affect ecosystem services, taking into account the relative effectiveness of these techniques in removing or reducing the impacts of spilled oil?
(7) In light of the multiple stresses on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, what practical approaches can managers take to restore and increase the resiliency of ecosystem services to future events such as the Deepwater Horizon Mississippi Canyon-252 spill? How can the increase in ecosystem resiliency be measured?
(8) What long term research activities and observational systems are needed to understand, monitor, and value trends and variations in ecosystem services and to allow the calculation of indices to compare with benchmark levels as recovery goals for ecosystem services in the Gulf of Mexico?