“GULF 3, An International Conference on Managing the Health of the Gulf Ecosystem: Dealing with Climate Change, Invasive Species and Coastal Alterations” was held in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, from 5 to 7 November 2018. The conference identified major indicators of degradation of the Gulf environment, with a special reference to what is being done and what research groups or agencies will be addressing. The conference participants flagged key ecosystem-based initiatives for remediation and restoration of the Gulf and identified emerging issues deserving next steps for remedial implementation.
The establishment of a scientific technical network of Gulf coastal countries for future developing a Water Quality Agreement was proposed. Future meetings and activities including publications were discussed.
Dr. Sergey Piontkovski (SQU), a keynote speaker chairing the Gulf Coastal Ecology section, has addressed the harmful algal bloom issues. He pointed out that although the species diversity of phytoplankton community is high, only few species form huge algal blooms in the Gulf. So a comprehensive coordinated study of seasonal variations and spatial distribution of these blooms should be a priority for the community of marine ecologists.
In carrying out a joint SQU-UAEU research project funded by both universities, Dr.Sergey Piontkovski (SQU) and Dr.Waleed Hamza (UAEU) initiated the assembly of historical data on 24 environmental characteristics (namely solar radiation, atmospheric temperature, wind, aerosols, surface currents, temperature, salinity, concentration of dissolved oxygen, nutrients, phytoplankton, zooplankton biomass, fish larvae abundance, small and large pelagic fish catches and some others). For example, in order to estimate magnitudes of seasonal changes, over 2000 vertical profiles of temperature casts featuring the latest two decades, were retrieved from archives of national and international oceanographic expeditions to the region.
In analyzing physical-biological interactions, scientists emphasized the role of wind driven surface currents markedly affecting the spatial distribution of algal blooms over the Gulf area. Research teams have focused on detailed studies of the relationship between the characteristics of the wind field, energy of surface currents and magnitudes of algal blooms driving oxygen depletions and fish kill incidents.