The Gulf of Mexico in trouble: big data solutions to climate change science

The latest technological advancements in the development and production of sensors have led to their increased usage in marine science, thus expanding data volume and rates within the field. The extensive data collection efforts to monitor and maintain the health of marine environments supports the efforts in data driven learning, which can help policy makers in making effective decisions. Machine learning techniques show a lot of promise for improving the quality and scope of marine research by detecting implicit patterns and hidden trends, especially in big datasets that are difficult to analyze with traditional methods. Machine learning is extensively used on marine science data collected in various regions, but it has not been applied in a significant way to data generated in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). Machine learning methods using ocean science data are showing encouraging results and thus are drawing interest from data science researchers and marine scientists to further the research. The purpose of this paper is to review the existing approaches in studying GOM data, the state of the art in machine learning techniques as applied to the GOM, and propose solutions to GOM data problems. We review several issues faced by marine environments in GOM in addition to climate change and its effects. We also present machine learning techniques and methods used elsewhere to address similar problems and propose applications to problems in the GOM. We find that Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), hypoxia, and sea-level rises have not received as much attention as other climate change problems and within the machine learning literature, the impacts on estuaries and coastal systems, as well as oyster mortality (also major problems for the GOM) have been understudied – we identify those as important areas for improvement. We anticipate this manuscript will act as a baseline for data science researchers and marine scientists to solve problems in the GOM collaboratively and/or independently.

Sunkara V., McKenna J., Kar S., Iliev I. & Bernstein D. N., 2023. The Gulf of Mexico in trouble: big data solutions to climate change science. Frontiers in Marine Science 10: 1075822. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2023.1075822. Article.

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