Abstract for: Integrated Modeling for the Gulf of Mexico

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill response included the creation of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI), which remedied deficiencies in the monitoring of the Gulf and advanced knowledge across many disciplines. A decade later, GoMRI wished to assess the prospects for integration of the knowledge gained in its extensive research portfolio. We led a participatory process with GoMRI researchers to elicit the researched structure of the Gulf system, speculate about unknown components, and assess prospects for future integration. Integration poses a number of challenges, because some domains of the system are well-understood, with multiple instances of highly developed, spatially detailed models backed by extensive data, but others, like human health and socioeconomic systems, have little data and few models. Yet these “soft” domains are critical to connecting science to decision making. At the same time, socioeconomic systems are bound up in other driving forces that affect the fate of the Gulf, such as climate change and coastal development. This report describes the process of the assessment and prospects for the future. Key outcomes include a causal loop diagram, linking of stakeholder interests to system features, mapping of existing models to the system, and a dynamic metamodel.