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This book describes the development of ocean sciences over the past 50 years, highlighting the contributions of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to the field's progress. Many of the individuals who participated in the exciting discoveries in biological oceanography, chemical oceanography, physical oceanography, and marine geology and geophysics describe in the book how the discoveries were made possible by combinations of insightful individuals, new technology, and in some cases, serendipity.

In addition to describing the advance of ocean science, the book examines the institutional structures and technology that made the advances possible and presents visions of the field's future. This book is the first-ever documentation of the history of NSF's Division of Ocean Sciences, how the structure of the division evolved to its present form, and the individuals who have been responsible for ocean sciences at NSF as "rotators" and career staff over the past 50 years.


Suggested Citation

National Research Council. 2000. 50 Years of Ocean Discovery: National Science Foundation 1950-2000. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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Publication Info

283 pages |  8.5 x 11 | 

  • Hardcover:  978-0-309-06398-2
  • Ebook:  978-0-309-17257-8
Chapters skim
Front Matter i-vi
Keynote Lecture The Emergence of the National Science Foundation as a Supporter of Ocean Sciences in the United States 1-8
Landmark Achievements of Ocean Sciences Achievements in Biological Oceanography 9-21
Achievements in Chemical Oceanography 22-43
Achievements in Physical Oceanography 44-50
Achievements in Marine Geology and Geophysics 51-64
Deep Submergence: The Beginnings of Alvin as a Tool of Basic Research 65-66
The History of Woods Hole's Deep Submergence Program 67-84
Creating Institutions to Make Scientific Discoveries Possible A Chronology of the Early Development of Ocean Sciences at NSF 85-92
Ocean Sciences at the National Sciences Foundation: Early Revolution 93-95
Ocean Sciences at the National Sciences Foundation: An Administrative History 96-106
Two Years of Turbulence Leading to a Quarter Century of Cooperation: The Birth of UNOLS 107-116
Scientific Ocean Drilling, from AMSOC to COMPOST 117-127
Technology Development for Ocean Sciences at NSF 128-134
Large and Small Science Programs: A Delicate Balance The Great Importance of “Small” Science Programs 135-140
The Role of NSF in “Big” Ocean Science: 1950 to 1980 141-148
Major Physical Oceanography Programs at NSF: IDOE Through Global Change 149-151
Major International Programs in Ocean Sciences: Ocean Chemistry 152-162
Ocean Sciences Today and Tomorrow The Future of Physical Oceanography 163-168
The Future of Ocean Chemistry in the United States 169-171
The Future of Marine Geology and Geophysics: A Summary 172-183
Out Far and In Deep: Shifting Perspectives in Ocean Ecology 184-191
Global Ocean Science: Toward an Integrated Approach 192-194
Education in Oceanography: History, Purpose, and Prognosis 195-200
Evolving Institutional Arrangements for U.S. Ocean Sciences 201-206
NSF's Commitment to the Deep 207-209
Fifty Years of Ocean Discovery 210-211
Argo to ARGO 212-213
The Importance of Ocean Sciences to Society 214-216
Appendix A: Symposium Program 217-222
Appendix B: Symposium Participants 223-232
Appendix C: Poster Session 233-234
Appendix D: NSF Division of Ocean Sciences: Senior Science Staff, Rotators, IPAs, and Visiting Sciences 235-246
Appendix E: Support of Ocean Sciences at NSF from 1966 to 1999 247-249
Appendix F: Organizational Charts 250-257
Appendix G: NRC Project Oversight 258-258
Appendix H: Acronyms 259-262
Index 263-270
Supplementary Pictures 271-278

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