COMPASS: Coastal Systems Pilot Project

DOE established a coastal systems pilot project in 2020 to improve fundamental scientific understanding, model representation, and predictive capacity of coastal systems in support of DOE’s energy challenges.

The project—Coastal Observations, Mechanisms, and Predictions Across Systems and Scales (COMPASS)—comprises two parts: a field study and a coastal modeling study. The first part focuses on field studies and associated process and ecosystem modeling of two coastal interfaces. One of these interfaces is an oceanic saline/brackish mid-Atlantic coastal environment and the other is a Great Lakes freshwater coastal environment. The second study focuses on modeling (i.e., coupling of the atmosphere, land, lake, hydroclimate, biogeochemical systems, and multiple human sectors) and analysis of coastal systems in the Great Lakes region.

Under COMPASS, DOE defines the coastal terrestrial-aquatic interface as the highly dynamic and high transitional gradient zone that includes the interface where the land surface meets waterbodies/oceans and extends into the immediate aquatic zone. The pilot project’s ultimate goal is to achieve a systems-level understanding of the hydro-biogeochemical functioning of coastal ecosystems through observational and field-based experimental research, which can then be captured in coupled process models and in a representative, scalable, flexible, and process-rich coastal ecosystem modeling framework.

Both COMPASS studies take advantage of DOE’s programmatic synergies, including the leveraging of existing infrastructure, data, model development, and other resources across DOE and other federal, international, state, local, and academic entities. Additionally, this pilot project collaborates with the larger coastal TAI community, providing access to project data, models, and research sites where appropriate.