Tremendous advances in oceanographic observing and modelling systems over the last decade have led to dramatic improvements in our ability to predict the ocean; skillful annual and multi-annual forecasts are now a reality in places like the North Atlantic.
"The North Atlantic is the most predictable place in the world where we can make forecasts up to five years," explained Mark Payne, scientist at DTU Aqua, Denmark, and a co-convener of Theme Session I.
"The challenge is how to translate forecasts made for the physical environment to biological environment."
Payne says, that ICES is sitting in the best place in the world to make these predictions, but hasn't seen the potential in them yet. This is what he is set out to change.
As part of this process, Payne is chairing a new working group next year. The Working Group on Seasonal-to-Decadal Prediction of Marine Ecosystems (WGS2D) will meet in June in Copenhagen, Denmark. First, however, there will be the theme session dedicated to the topic at ICES ASC 2016.
Long-term forecasting brings important new information to marine resource management.
"For example, surveys can be designed better with a longer term forecast, and it will also make it easier to predict the movements of fish that move with temperature changes," Payne explained.
According to Payne, Australia is a world leader in long forecasting: "CSIRO has investigated the habitat preferences of southern Bluefin tuna in the Great Australian, and providing forecasts of habitat distribution, which are used in fisheries."
Alistair Hobday from CSIRO will be speaking in Theme Session I about this work. ICES will stream his talk live via YouTube.
The session will also bring together experts from the climate forecast community and speakers from North America to illustrate other how forecast information is generated and used in other contexts, including examples from the management of coral reefs, and sardine and lobster fisheries.
"We hope that this meeting will mark a new turn for ICES and European marine science, where we establish a new research community and begin to exploit the high predictability of the ocean sitting at our front doorsteps," Payne envisions.
Theme Session I takes place on Monday, 19 September, starting at 15:00. Follow along via Twitter: #ICESASC16, and tune in to Hobday's talk on Monday, 19 September at 15:00 on the ICES YouTube-channel.