Original Articles

Pieces of the puzzle: anecdotes, time-series and insights

Published in: South African Journal of Marine Science
Volume 12, issue 1, 1992, pages: 1079–1092
DOI: 10.2989/02577619209504764
Author(s): G. D. Sharp


The recent few decades might well be called the age of onset of coordinated instrumental records. These decades of increased measuring capability, precision and analysis have also provided experience with failed short-term projections of climate, ocean and subsequent ecological responses. The problems have resulted primarily from insufficient contextual information and overindulgence in limited statistical approaches. The resulting atmospheric, oceanographic and resource-conservation sciences will some day be viewed as anti-existential groping for instant enlightenment and quick solutions to poorly understood and defined problems. The data-driven, computerized sciences still await the maturation of the observers and their insights into their respective areas of expertise. While recent generations of modellers and managers have searched for quick tools to justify decisions that could be made on far less rigorous bases, some empiricists have diligently compiled facts and made collaborative interpretations that can not only provide insights into the status and trends within larger ecosystem contexts, but also provide the pieces of the larger global puzzle that must be resolved. Examples of the various interlocking scales, and related patches and edges of the emerging picture are described, as are suggestions for how the shorter-term, anecdotal efforts of ocean scientists might be brought into focus for placement within these larger contexts.

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