The Ocean Observatories Initiative: A continued presence for interactive ocean research

TitleThe Ocean Observatories Initiative: A continued presence for interactive ocean research
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsIsern, AR, Clark, HL
JournalMarine Technology Society Journal
Type of ArticleJournal Article

Global processes that actively shape the Earth and ultimately impact society must be investigated over the spatial and temporal scales at which they occur. To characterize the temporal behavior of dynamic processes occurring in the ocean, new types of infrastructure are needed that are capable of providing long-term, high-resolution observations of critical environmental parameters. With funding from the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) account, the National Science Foundation's Division of Ocean Sciences plans to initiate construction of an integrated observatory network that will provide the oceanographic research and education communities with a new mode of access to the ocean. The Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) has three elements: 1) a regional cabled network consisting of interconnected sites on the seafloor spanning several geological and oceanographic features and processes, 2) several relocatable deep-sea buoys that could also be deployed in harsh environments such as the Southern Ocean, and 3) new construction or enhancements to existing facilities leading to an expanded network of coastal observatories.

The scientific problems driving the need for the OOI are broad in scope and encompass nearly every area of ocean science. Once established, the observatories constructed as part of this initiative will provide earth and ocean scientists with unique opportunities to study multiple, interrelated processes over time scales ranging from seconds to decades; to conduct comparative studies of regional processes and spatial characteristics; and to map whole-Earth and basin scale structures.


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