National Academies Press: OpenBook

Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences (2015)

Chapter:2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025

« Previous: 1 21st-Century Achievements in Ocean Science
Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

2


Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025

Nothing is less predictable than the development of an active scientific field.

—Charles Francis Richter

OBJECTIVES

The committee was charged to develop “compelling, high level scientific questions that will be central to the ocean sciences over the coming decade and, if answered, could transform our scientific knowledge of the oceans.” The goal of these questions is to “identify areas of strategic investment with the highest potential payoff.” Instead of attempting to include all topics of interest in oceanography, the committee sought questions that are likely to be transformative, are of broad interest, offer significant impact to society, and can conceivably be initiated or addressed in the next decade.

The purpose of identifying priorities in this report is to ensure alignment between key topics in ocean science over the next decade and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) investments in ocean research infrastructure. The committee spoke at length with NSF about the relationship between these science priorities and the Division of Ocean Science’s (OCE’s) core programs,1 which seek to advance fundamental scientific understanding of the ocean by supporting high-quality research proposals. Future core program funding is likely to address many aspects of the scientific priorities identified in this report, but it will also support a broad range of work not directly related to these priorities—for example, addressing long-standing issues that may not be transformative but where making progress remains vital, or laying the groundwork for new or unanticipated topics through support for basic research. As noted in Chapter 1, topics such as sea level rise variability and ocean acidification were advanced by fundamental research even though they were not highlighted in reports a decade ago. The NSF Directorate for Geosciences (GEO) recently released a plan, Dynamic Earth: GEO Imperatives & Frontiers 2015-2020, which recognizes that “basic research [is] at the heart of GEO’s mission” (NSF Advisory Committee for Geosciences, 2014). To make significant progress in ocean science and technology, the core programs require a high degree of flexibility to fund promising new ideas and approaches, respond to infrequent events that present opportunities to understand important phenomena, incorporate discoveries in other areas of science and technology, and encourage the training and professional development of the next generation of scientists.

APPROACH

To identify the set of science priorities, the committee obtained input and suggestions from town hall meetings at the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting (San Francisco, California) and the 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting (Honolulu, Hawaii); from over 400 responses on a web-based Virtual Town Hall that was open from November 2013 to March 2014; from ~300 challenging ocean science topics embedded in more than 30 NSF, federal agency, research community, National Research Council (NRC), and international reports over the last 10 years;2 from presentations to the committee by NSF program managers and others (see Appendix B); from presentations, interviews, and material provided by personnel in other federal agencies and other programs; and from

_________________

1 Core science refers to the grants resulting from unsolicited proposals submitted to and supported by NSF OCE research and education programs. NSF includes Biological Oceanography, Chemical Oceanography, Physical Oceanography, Marine Geology and Geophysics, Oceanographic Technology and Interdisciplinary Coordination, Ocean Education, and IODP Science as part of core science.

2 All of the reports considered by the committee are listed at the end of the chapter under “References and Bibliography.”

Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

additional suggestions provided by letters received from research institutions and individuals.3

The input was first sorted and consolidated into about three dozen diverse, high-level, disciplinary and interdisciplinary scientific questions. The committee used methods focused on the diversity of the input rather than its popularity, an approach that is consistent with the Nominal Group Technique (Delbecq and Van de Ven, 1971). The sorting scheme was organized around four unifying themes—oceans, climate, ecosystems, and subsea Earth—that encompass the diverse topics in ocean sciences. All of the input was sorted into “bins” that encompassed one or more themes (for example, three bins were ecosystems, subsea Earth-ocean, and climate-ocean ecosystems) that captured both disciplinary and integrative aspects of ocean science.

Following published and tested research on the methods for prioritization of science programs (e.g., Sutherland et al., 2006), similar questions were clustered to produce approximately 20 distinct, high-level questions, with subquestions that articulated the focus of the original input at a consistent level of detail. For example, the importance of place-based research such as in the polar regions was a theme expressed in comments received from the Virtual Town Hall. During the process of synthesizing the input, the committee incorporated place-based research questions into the subquestions, while recognizing that other parts of NSF and other agencies also support ocean research and collaborate with OCE.

The Analytical Hierarchical Process (Forman and Gass, 2001) was then used to narrow the list to fewer than 10, as directed by the statement of task. The basis of the analytical hierarchical process is the use of selection criteria that are weighted in importance and then applied one at a time to the working list. These criteria were derived from suggestions by NSF program managers and previous NRC and interagency reports related to ocean science research priorities. There were four criteria used—transformative potential, societal impact, readiness, and partnership potential—listed in order of relative importance and discussed below:

  • Research with transformative potential, as defined by NSF, “involves ideas, discoveries, or tools that radically change our understanding of an important existing scientific or engineering concept or educational practice or leads to the creation of a new paradigm or field of science, engineering, or education. Such research challenges current understanding or provides pathways to new frontiers.”4 Examples might include investigating a previously unexplored question or researching a long-standing question with new insights, improved instrumentation, or a novel perspective, with either path leading to major revisions in current knowledge.
  • An increasing emphasis at NSF and other federal agencies is to focus funding on areas with significant societal impact,5 as noted in the “Broader Impacts” requirement for NSF proposals. Federal ocean science themes with societal relevance are outlined in An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century (USCOP, 2004), Charting the Course for Ocean Science in the United States for the Next Decade and Science for an Ocean Nation (NSTC, 2013; NSTC Joint Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology, 2007), and the National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan (NOC, 2013), and include topics such as increasing resilience to natural or anthropogenic hazards, improving human and ecosystem health, and maintaining a sustainable and secure food supply.
  • Some topical areas have high readiness: the questions are clearly articulated, tools and infrastructure exist to address them, there is an energized and/or growing community equipped to address them, and partners are available. Research could begin quickly, even if results may be slow to materialize.
  • Although NSF is the dominant funder of basic ocean science research, other federal and state agencies, private foundations, industries, and international organizations also have basic and applied interests. Topics of interest outside NSF have partnership potential. They could attract cooperative interest and support increased research funding, additional technical tools or infrastructure, added research expertise or in-kind resources, access to different geographic regions, or advice on societal impacts and private-sector applications.

These four weighted criteria were applied qualitatively to the list of about 20 questions, using the committee’s informed judgment. Transformative science potential was given the most weight, followed by societal impact, readiness, and partnership potential. Because transformative research potential was the first and highest ranked criterion, research that was deemed scientifically important but low in its transformative potential was not ranked highly. However, as a reality check, each question’s scientific importance was also qualitatively ranked; the committee found relatively high correlation to those questions with high transformative potential. A few questions with lower scientific importance were balanced by relatively high societal relevance and/ or readiness. This application of the analytical hierarchical process winnowed the questions to a final set of eight science priorities.

_________________

3 There have been other attempts to suggest priority research questions in the ocean, for example most recently a survey from York University, United Kingdom (Rudd, 2014). This survey was not aimed at the same community, and purpose and methodology differed from the efforts described in this report.

4 See http://www.nsf.gov/about/transformative_research/definition.jsp.

5 See http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2007/nsf07046/nsf07046.jsp.

Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

PRIORITY SCIENCE QUESTIONS FOR 2015-2025

The following eight science priorities are considered by the committee to be integrative, interdisciplinary, strategic research areas that are presented as high-level themes. Specific research questions can be posed within these areas. The committee envisions these questions as foci to be addressed within OCE core programs or within cross-cutting NSF programs, or in partnership with other federal agencies or international programs. The committee did not prioritize among the eight questions. Rather, they are ordered from the ocean surface, through the water column, to the seafloor:

  • What are the rates, mechanisms, impacts, and geographic variability of sea level change?
  • How are the coastal and estuarine ocean and their ecosystems influenced by the global hydrologic cycle, land use, and upwelling from the deep ocean?
  • How have ocean biogeochemical and physical processes contributed to today’s climate and its variability, and how will this system change over the next century?
  • What is the role of biodiversity in the resilience of marine ecosystems and how will it be affected by natural and anthropogenic changes?
  • How different will marine food webs be at mid-century? In the next 100 years?
  • What are the processes that control the formation and evolution of ocean basins?
  • How can risk be better characterized and the ability to forecast geohazards like mega-earthquakes, tsunamis, undersea landslides, and volcanic eruptions be improved?
  • What is the geophysical, chemical, and biological character of the subseafloor environment and how does it affect global elemental cycles and understanding of the origin and evolution of life?

Because of their broad relevance to societal issues, federal agencies in addition to OCE may have interest in devoting resources to fields related to the science priorities. These partnership potentials are discussed in detail under each question. Collaborations between basic research and mission agencies may hasten both research advancements and transition to operational products by taking advantage of complementary skills, resources, and expertise among organizations. For example, understanding the mechanisms that control biodiversity and food web structure also has relevance for managing marine ecosystems and tracking environmental contaminants. In addition, there is potential for useful partnerships with industry, foundations, international organizations, and nongovernmental organizations.

What are the rates, mechanisms, impacts, and geographic variability of sea level change?

The population of coastal communities has expanded rapidly over the past few decades. Small increases in local sea level expose this population to inundation by storm surge, cyclones, and extreme waves. In the past half million years, global mean sea level has fluctuated between 140 m lower and perhaps as much as 10 m higher than its present level. Understanding the mechanisms and rates of change behind global and regional variability on all scales, and projecting future changes in sea level, is an interdisciplinary challenge to oceanographers. The immediate cause of today’s global mean sea level rise is global warming, which acts through thermal expansion of ocean waters and loss of water mass from major land reservoirs such as glaciers and ice sheets. Significant regional patterns of sea level change result from uneven rates of ocean warming, the net transport of seawater in ocean currents, regional tectonics, isostatic adjustments, shoreline subsidence, and regional gravitational anomalies. Understanding and anticipating sea-level change will require answers to the following:

  • How does the ocean gain, lose, transport, and store heat and what is the temporal and spatial variability of these processes?
  • How does regional sea level respond to ocean circulation driven by changes in heat and salt budgets, winds, and the hydrologic cycle?
  • How does a warming ocean affect sea ice and glacier melt in polar regions? How is ocean circulation influenced by sea ice and glacier melt?
  • Are there thresholds that will trigger loss of oceanic ice shelves and grounded ice, and how will these effects change the distribution of sea ice and accelerate long-term sea level rise?
  • How and on what temporal and spatial scales will flooding, storm surge, and large wind waves impact shorelines?
  • What is the coupling between sea level rise and increasing vulnerability to storms?

Opportunities exist for NSF to partner with the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and other organizations within the Department of the Interior, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA; particularly the National Ocean Service and the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research [OAR]) on in situ and satellite measurements of rates of sea level change, predictive models, and policies for mitigation and adaptation. Collaborations within NSF, for example, with the Division of Polar Programs, could address the impacts of ice sheet, glacier, and sea ice melt on sea level and circulation. The

Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

Interagency Arctic Research and Policy Committee could also have interest in this science priority. Several of these topics were highlighted as NSF research frontiers in Dynamic Earth (NSF Advisory Committee for Geosciences, 2014).

How are the coastal and estuarine ocean and their ecosystems influenced by the global hydrologic cycle, land use, and upwelling from the deep ocean?

The land adjacent to the coastal oceans and estuaries is experiencing increasing pressures from residential, industrial, agricultural, extractive, and recreational uses. The effects of human activities are heavily focused on the coastal and estuarine ocean, in part because runoff and associated sediment, nutrients, and pollutant fluxes can dramatically alter marine ecosystems and result in habitat loss. Many human activities (e.g., commerce and associated dredging, fishing, sewage disposal, and hydrocarbon exploration and resource extraction) are altering coastal ecosystems and their habitats. Anthropogenic pressures, such as thermal or chemical contaminants that change ocean properties, have stronger impacts in shallow waters. Changes in the ocean also have poorly understood feedbacks that affect adjacent land by increasing the vulnerability of coastal areas to storms, altering coastal aquifers, and changing global rainfall patterns. Understanding how the inherently dynamic marine environments on the edges of the ocean respond to ongoing changes has significant societal importance. For example:

  • How will changes in river runoff volumes associated with shifting hydrologic patterns affect the dynamics and ecology of nearshore areas?
  • How is the boundary between freshwater and saltwater in coastal aquifers changing due to both aquifer withdrawal and sea level rise?
  • How will the pathways and processes that redistribute or concentrate pollutants change with altered sediment inputs?
  • Will changes in nutrients in coastal waters alter the export of organic carbon to the deep sea and seafloor? Will the increased oxygen demand significantly expand continental margin dead zones?
  • What are the impacts of pollutants and perturbations on coastal ecosystems, including pesticides and other chemicals, acoustic signatures from resource extraction and shipping, and human alterations to the ocean floor?
  • What constitutes sustainable use of the coastal zones, and how will projections of long-term change influence planning and management of human activities in these areas?

Several operational agencies (e.g., USGS, NOAA, and the U.S. Navy) have mission-specific responsibilities that would benefit from collaborative coastal research products. NASA, USACE, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also sponsor research that connects terrestrial inputs to coastal and estuarine impacts and creates public literacy on coastal planning and methods to mitigate risk. There are significant opportunities for linking ocean and satellite observations from research and monitoring programs with ocean observatory capabilities. In some instances, basic ocean research done by NSF could have mission applications by other federal agencies. NSF’s Division of Earth Science and Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences could also have interest in this topic.

How have ocean biogeochemical and physical processes contributed to today’s climate and its variability, and how will this system change over the next century?

Ocean processes are a crucial component of both climate and carbon cycles. Over the past century, the ocean has absorbed about one-third of the excess CO2 emitted from fossil fuel combustion and over 90% of the excess energy of global warming. Attendant effects include changes in the distribution of temperature and salinity in the oceans, in ocean circulation and heat transport, in decreasing pH of seawater, and in the expansion of low-oxygen zones. Impacts of these physical and chemical changes on organisms, ecosystems, and resources are the subject of current research. Whether biological and chemical effects will amplify or mitigate changes remains unknown. In the coming century, rates of these and other related changes are expected to increase; the near-term buffering capacity of the ocean may be less effective as the upper ocean seeks dynamic equilibrium with a warmer, high-CO2 atmosphere. Over many millennia, the ocean is expected to neutralize the human additions of carbon by dissolution of seafloor carbonate minerals. On shorter time scales, warmer, fresher surface waters could decrease the convective mixing and overturning circulation that carries heat into the deep ocean. Climate change could also be exacerbated by loss of sea ice and increased albedo feedback or from methane and carbon dioxide venting from subseafloor hydrates or permafrost. How these complex and dynamic changes will play out, at what rates and with what impacts, remains poorly known. Answering these questions in the near future will be of high priority, as policy decisions made in the coming decade will set the course of changes in climate, the ocean, and its biogeochemical cycles not just for the next few decades, but for centuries and millennia to come; some possible changes, such as substantial loss of glaciers and polar ice caps, may be essentially irreversible. In particular the following aspects of the linked climate and biogeochemical system will require focused attention over the next decade:

  • What is the ocean’s role in regulating the carbon cycle? How might the ocean’s uptake or release of radiatively and biologically active gases, and the ef-
Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
  • ficiency of carbon export to the deep ocean, be better quantified?
  • What are the consequences of ocean acidification and the impact of decreasing pH on marine organisms and ocean biogeochemistry?
  • What is the ocean’s role, through CO2 uptake and transport, on transient and equilibrium climate sensitivity?
  • What is the role of the polar oceans on global and regional circulation?
  • What are the natural and anthropogenic drivers of coastal and open ocean deoxygenation, and how can the two drivers be distinguished?
  • What are the impacts of changes in the ocean’s physical properties and circulation on the frequency and amplitude of catastrophic events such as hurricanes and floods?
  • How do changes in mixing and circulation affect nutrient availability and ocean productivity?
  • What is the spatial and temporal distribution of ocean mixing, turbulence, and stirring, and how might these processes be represented in climate-scale ocean models?

This topic covers mission interests at many federal agencies (e.g., Department of Energy, NASA, NOAA, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA]). In addition, the global nature of this question could be advanced by international collaborations such as Future Earth (Box 2-1), Horizon 2020 (a European Commission research program), and other complementary programs.

What is the role of biodiversity in the resilience of marine ecosystems and how will it be affected by natural and anthropogenic changes?

One of the grand challenges of marine ecology is to understand the extent to which biodiversity enhances productivity and influences recovery from perturbations. While it is often assumed that more diverse ecosystems are more resilient to change, there is considerable debate in the contemporary literature; thus, the importance of protecting marine diversity as a primary ecosystem conservation objective is yet unresolved. Some marine ecosystems are subject to rapid ecological shifts, due to changing oceanographic conditions, natural or imposed shifts in the abundance of apex predators, or some combination of both. The details of these shifts, however, are poorly understood.

Resolving the interplay between biodiversity and ecosystem resilience, while a daunting task, is essential for understanding the cumulative and individual effects of changes in ocean physical and chemical processes, species abundances, and the related dynamics of both natural variability and human impacts. Overfishing and increasing eutrophication exacerbate the effects on individual species and on ecosystems, further complicating analyses. The broad range of marine ecosystem settings (e.g., salt marshes, coral reefs, continental shelf, and undersampled ecosystems like the deep ocean and mid-water column) presents a continuum of opportunities to test theory, to obtain valuable data, and to generate models for better understanding of the roles that biodiversity—species, genetic, functional—may play in a changing ocean. Understanding the roles of biodiversity in the resilience and productivity of marine ecosystems is fundamental to answering a number of practical questions, including, but not limited to:

BOX 2-1
Future Earth

Future Earth is a 10-year international research program that seeks to provide scientific knowledge that can be used to help societies address current and future environmental problems. It aims to answer fundamental questions about the changing global environment and implications of human development for the diversity of marine and terrestrial life. Future Earth also seeks to identify opportunities to mitigate risk, improve resilience, increase innovation, and demonstrate how science can aid progress toward the societal goal of a sustainable planet. To do this, the program will integrate disciplines from physical science, social science, engineering, and humanities, encompass bottom-up ideas, and be inclusive of existing global change research programs. Ocean science has a clear role in Future Earth, not only due to human impacts on the marine environment but also because of ecosystem services the oceans provide (e.g., the ocean’s role in food from the sea, uptake of carbon dioxide, and its stabilizing effect on global temperature).

  • How do multiple and cumulative anthropogenic and natural stressors affect productivity, stability, connectivity, and recovery dynamics of marine species and ecosystems?
  • Can we identify and predict triggers for ecological regime shifts?
  • How diverse, resilient, and productive are vast and underexplored ecosystems (e.g., bathypelagic and abyssal realms)?
Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
  • Does increased resilience to perturbations make it more or less difficult to recover individual species or species groups?
  • To what extent will species, genetic, or functional biodiversity be affected by acidification, warming, sea level rise, freshwater dynamics, hypoxia, and exploitation? Which organisms have the ability to adapt to change and how will ecosystems shift as a function of these responses?
  • How will marine and coastal ecosystem services be impacted by natural and anthropogenically driven change?

Opportunities to enhance understanding of biodiversity and resilience exist within many federal agencies (e.g., EPA, NASA, NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service [NMFS], the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management [BOEM], and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [USFWS]), and within NSF through the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) and the Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences. This includes work on cumulative impacts and the potential for regime changes in relation to climate and anthropogenic effects and provides an opportunity to link modeling and field research programs. Private research entities are also capable of supporting partnerships in this arena; one example of a successful, international, public-private partnership was the Census of Marine Life (which was established by a private foundation and supported by over 80 countries, including U.S. federal agencies; see Box 1-2).

How different will marine food webs be at mid-century? In the next 100 years?

Food web configuration integrates a number of key aspects of marine ecosystems including predator-prey dynamics, coupling of benthic and pelagic components, climate forcing, physical and biogeochemical impacts on the base of the food web (primary production), “top-down” cascading effects of overharvesting, and the population dynamics of constituent species. Food web stability and structure are influenced by the number and strength of interactions among both internal and external components. Large-scale changes in marine food webs have been documented in a number of ecosystems, including the eastern Pacific, the northwest Atlantic, and along the Aleutian chain. Creative combinations of data from commercial fish and shellfish fisheries with multi-species monitoring have increasingly shown that large marine ecosystems are dynamic and subject to abrupt changes.

There is already evidence that marine ecosystems are responding to climate-related changes in ocean physics and biogeochemistry, potentially changing the spatial patterns and overall levels of productivity of the oceans. At the same time, harvesting patterns will transform in response to requirements for sustainable human uses of the ocean and its margins. The evidence suggests marine food webs may transition to different food web configurations and interactions that involve both bottom-up and top-down control, with implications for ecosystem stability and future human use. Understanding how food web dynamics respond to changing climate and human use patterns could shed light on how productivity may change under multiple simultaneous controls. Some of the relevant questions include the following:

  • How will the effects of climate change in the ocean, superimposed on other natural and anthropogenic stressors, alter the carrying capacity and recovery potential of marine ecosystems?
  • Will changes in biogeochemical processes related to the availability of essential macronutrients (such as nitrogen) and micronutrients (such as iron) alter patterns of global primary productivity?
  • How will changes in apex predator exploitation with accompanying population increases or decreases affect the organization and dynamics of ecosystems?
  • What determines the resilience of marine assemblages, the structure of their food webs, and rates of recovery of species to overharvesting? What are the key criteria for sustainable fishing and aquaculture practices?

Dynamic Earth (NSF Advisory Committee for Geosciences, 2014) mentions the response of marine ecosystems to climate and anthropogenic impacts as an important basic research area for the emerging research frontier topic about Earth systems processes that cross the land-ocean interface. Opportunities exist to bring together agencies responsible for management (e.g., NOAA/NMFS, EPA, USFWS, the Marine Mammal Commission [MMC]) with research (e.g., NASA, NOAA OAR, NSF BIO) and with international initiatives such as Future Earth. Cross-agency collaborations, such as the Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics International Programme (GLOBEC), demonstrate that bringing agencies together with academic communities is a powerful model for moving research forward.

What are the processes that control the formation and evolution of ocean basins?

Plate tectonic processes have been studied since the 1960s, but only recently has sufficient infrastructure existed to collect the data necessary to evaluate this paradigm on a basin-wide scale and to image structures in the deep crust and mantle that reveal plate tectonic mechanisms. Tectonic processes control the regional shape of the ocean basins and the roughness of the seafloor, exerting influence on the circulation of the overlying water column and the distribution of ecosystems that inhabit it. Many tectonic plate boundaries also are the loci of geologic hazards, potentially linking the safety of human populations onshore to conditions and

Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

events that are tens of kilometers beneath the seafloor or thousands of kilometers across the planet. Heat from cooling plate and cooling magma bodies drives hydrothermal circulation, which alters seawater composition and provides nutrients for deep ecosystems. Understanding the processes that control the formation and evolution of the ocean basins is contingent upon answering the following questions, but it is important to note that the systems are all interrelated and coupled to varying degrees as part of the overall manifestation of convection within the Earth:

  • Beneath mid-ocean ridge spreading centers, where does magma form and what are its pathways to the surface to form the oceanic crust? How do spreading rate and proximity to subduction zones and transform faults affect this process?
  • What are the interactions between the plates and convection in the deeper, underlying, convecting mantle?
  • How does a heterogeneous mantle contribute to dynamic changes in topography at the Earth’s surface?
  • What is the sequence of tectonic processes that cause continents to split apart and new ocean basins to form? How do new subduction zones form?
  • What is the role of fluids in localizing plate boundaries, triggering volcanic eruptions, and controlling slip distribution in earthquakes?
  • To what extent do faults control hydrothermal circulation in the crust and thus the distribution of vent communities and microbial populations in the deep biosphere?
  • What causes massive volcanic outpourings that have formed oceanic plateaus, seamounts, and islands, and how are they related to continental analogs?

OCE could partner with NSF’s Division of Earth Sciences (EAR) to fund opportunities that cross land-ocean boundaries and could work with USGS on monitoring. Permitting issues related to seismic and acoustic research are also of interest to NOAA, BOEM, the Office of Naval Research, and MMC.

How can risk be better characterized and the ability to forecast geohazards like mega-earthquakes, tsunamis, undersea landslides, and volcanic eruptions be improved?

Earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions have caused hundreds of billions of dollars in damage and hundreds of thousands of fatalities over the past decade. At the same time, development and expanded deployment of new technologies has improved understanding of the processes that generate geohazards, refined probabilistic estimates of the dangers, and reduced the lag between event detection and response. Improved understanding and forecasting of geohazards is listed as a potential area for basic research inquiry in Dynamic Earth (NSF Advisory Committee for Geosciences, 2014). Necessary improvements in understanding and forecasting geohazards, and thus reducing risks, depend on answering the following questions:

  • Are there recognizable precursors to volcanic eruptions and mega-earthquakes? Do the episodic periods of slow slip in deep parts of fault zones represent times of increased earthquake hazard?
  • Why do some earthquakes generate damaging tsunamis and others do not?
  • Why do some earthquakes generated at oceanic transform boundaries reoccur at predictable intervals?
  • What is the role of water in controlling fault slip and triggering volcanic eruptions?
  • What controls and triggers submarine slides? What controls slope stability? Does climate change play a role in slope stability through sea level changes? How do methane seeps influence slope stability and what are the likely effects of resource extraction?
  • What parts of the interface between the subducting and overriding plates are locked, accumulating strain that will be released in earthquakes, and which parts are stably sliding? What are the physical processes controlling the pattern of locked and slipping fault zones?
  • To what extent can we decipher the history of infrequent, dangerous events from the sediment record, the morphology of the seafloor, and the stratigraphy of the subseafloor?
  • How does volcanism impact weather and contribute to climate change?

Opportunities exist to collaborate on prediction and rapid response to geohazards with agencies (e.g., USGS, NOAA OAR and National Weather Service, NSF EAR, FEMA, and the Federal Aviation Administration) and private sectors ranging from transportation and logistics to insurance.

What is the geophysical, chemical, and biological character of the subseafloor environment and how does it affect global elemental cycles and understanding of the origin and evolution of life?

The ocean is underlain by a dynamic seafloor in which fluids circulate and viable microbial communities exist at great depths, in both sediments and in rock. This largely uncharacterized environment is metabolically active, showing evidence of nitrogen, iron, and sulfur cycling, as well as unusual oxidation-reduction reactions. Some of this life is supported by organic carbon generated in the photic zone, but evidence from both terrestrial and oceanic subseafloor realms suggests the possibility of lithoautotrophy and creation of organic carbon independent of light (“dark organic carbon”). Exploration of the deep biosphere has revealed that

Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

novel microbial physiologies and diverse life forms may exist and that these novel forms may be linked to metabolic processes in Earth’s early history or on other planets (Box 2-2). In addition to understanding genetic diversity, exploration of the deep biosphere may lead to possible human health applications—for example, discovery of novel chemicals and/or processes that could be used to prevent or treat diseases or metabolic disorders.

The magnitude and metabolic activity of this unique biosphere affects the character of subseafloor fluids and raises the possibility that the microbes themselves may be transported in crustal fluid flows. While there is some disagreement regarding the size of the organic carbon reservoir and microbial activity in subseafloor sediments and igneous rocks, the presence of a vast metabolizing community beneath the seafloor raises the possibility that current estimates of global carbon biomass and cycling may require substantial revision and that global biogeochemical fluxes and cycles may be significantly affected by subseafloor processes throughout the global ocean. These possibilities give rise to the following questions:

  • What are the mechanisms and rates of fluid circulation in this crustal environment, and to what extent does it fuel the diversity and composition of microbial life under the seafloor?
  • How have these microbial forms evolved, how are their ecosystems organized and interconnected, and what do these organisms reveal about the origin and evolution of new life forms on and beyond Earth?
  • What is the biogeochemical and organismal flux within and across the seafloor and how does it contribute to global biogeochemical cycles? How are these ecosystems sustained over long spatial and temporal scales?
  • To what extent is new organic carbon formed in the subseafloor biosphere? Is it a vast unexplored and active reservoir that has the potential to transform our understanding of carbon storage and burial?
  • How can subseafloor processes and products be used for societal benefit (e.g., novel enzymes for industrial and biomedical applications, or new chemicals for human health applications)?

In addition to support from OCE, other potential partners at NSF include BIO and EAR. Several of the topics for this priority question would contribute to the GEO research frontier on Early Earth in Dynamic Earth (NSF Advisory Committee for Geosciences, 2014). Programs within NOAA (such as Ocean Exploration), NASA programs addressing interplanetary life, and the National Institutes of Health programs focused on the discovery and development of marine-derived products with human health applications also present collaboration opportunities.

BOX 2-2
Exploration: Key to Paradigm Shifts

Prior to 1977, a student reading a biology textbook would have learned that the process of photosynthesis, by which the sun’s energy is converted into food for plants, is essential for life on Earth. That same textbook likely would not have contained a discussion of chemosynthesis, the process by which organisms derive energy from inorganic compounds in the absence of light and obtain carbon in the form of carbon dioxide, despite the discovery of chemosynthesis by Winogradsky 90 years previously.

In the late 1970s, the paradigm for the basis of life on Earth was fundamentally changed when scientists from several collaborating oceanographic institutions went searching for evidence of “hot springs” (hydrothermal vents) on the ocean floor and first discovered plumes of warm water, then evidence of chemosynthetic life on the deep seafloor (2,500 m), and, finally, actual vents. The scientific expeditions to the Galapagos Rift did not set out in search of biological communities; rather, researchers identified the site as a likely location to find hydrothermal vents, which were hypothesized to exist based on measured deep water temperature anomalies, chemically altered rocks and metal-rich ocean sediments recovered from the seafloor, remnants of hydrothermal systems preserved on the continents, and surprisingly low measurements of heat flowing through seafloor sediments near mid-ocean ridges. Using Alvin, the Deep-Tow geophysical instrument, and the Acoustically Navigated Geophysical Underwater System, scientists discovered and mapped dense fields of clams, mussels, worms, and fish surrounding hydrothermal vents. Their discoveries amazed the world and convincingly established the importance of chemosynthesis in supporting life.

Hydrothermal vent communities are not independent of photosynthesis; they require oxidants such as dissolved oxygen that would not exist at the seafloor in the absence of atmospheric oxygen. However, recently attention has focused on methanogens that create organic matter from rock-derived hydrogen and inorganic carbon dioxide, an energy source that is truly independent of photosynthesis.

Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

INTERDISCIPLINARY SCIENCE AND FUNDING WITHIN NSF AND OCE

Most of the priority questions will require interdisciplinary6 research across the subdisciplines of ocean science as they are managed within OCE, within the GEO disciplines, and across Directorates. In recent years, GEO Directorate-level Integrative and Collaborative Education and Research (ICER) funds (which did not exist a decade ago) have been the main source of interdisciplinary initiatives such as the Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability (SEES) program ($68 million in fiscal year 2014). SEES supports a portfolio of research that highlights NSF’s unique role in helping society address the challenge of achieving sustainability and includes ocean-related themes such as Ocean Acidification, Coastal SEES, and Hazard SEES. Other GEO-level and NSF-wide interdisciplinary programs include Cooperative Studies of the Earth’s Deep Interior, Earth Cube, and Decadal and Regional Climate Prediction using Earth System Models.

In the past, programs like the World Ocean Circulation Experiment, the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS), the Ridge Interdisciplinary Global Experiments (RIDGE), MARGINS, and others originated with new funding that came into OCE via, for example, the Global Change Research Program. Once those programs ended, funds remained in the core research budgets; for example, JGOFS funds were split evenly between the Biological and Chemical Oceanography programs. This was an opportunity for OCE program officers to continue similarly themed programs or begin new interdisciplinary programs without an impact on the core budgets. However, at present ICER funds remain within GEO, are not added to core research budgets, and are subsequently not under the direct control of OCE program officers.

OCE funds interdisciplinary work at two levels: the moderate- to large-scale initiatives discussed above, and individual-investigator or small-team proposals directed to one or more core programs. The larger efforts (e.g., RIDGE, GLOBEC) are considered to be handled well within NSF, although they take considerable time to develop and are generally initiated by established community members that have the energy and stature to lead such efforts.

Obtaining funding for smaller interdisciplinary programs is often viewed as more problematic by the scientific community. As a result of this perception, the 2012 OCE Committee of Visitors looked at the funding record for peer-reviewed interdisciplinary proposals within OCE, excluding those in named initiatives such as the International Study of Marine Biogeochemical Cycles of Trace Elements and their Isotopes (GEOTRACES), and concluded that their success rate does not differ significantly from those submitted to the core programs (NSF Committee of Visitors, 2012). Nevertheless, the impression within the community is different. Respondents to the Virtual Town Hall and young researchers (postdoctoral and assistant professor levels) who spoke during committee meeting open sessions believe that it is more difficult to get interdisciplinary work funded and that such proposals are not encouraged by NSF. A contributing factor is the near absence of guidance on the OCE webpage as to how to submit an unsolicited interdisciplinary proposal. It is unclear whether such proposals are welcomed and, if so, how to optimize the proposal for success. Furthermore, when proposal success rates are lower, there is a perception that OCE program officers are more likely to protect their core programs and less likely to work across disciplines.

Because interdisciplinary research across the subfields of ocean science is of increasing interest, particularly among younger scientists, and because such research will be essential to achieve many of the decadal science priorities, it is vital that the ocean science community is encouraged to work across fields and does not experience barriers in finding funding for interdisciplinary work.

TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT FOR THE NEXT DECADE

Many research advances depend on new technologies that provide opportunities to measure or collect previously unattainable information. Long-duration moorings, global float arrays, high-resolution bathymetric mapping, genomics, high-performance computing, wireless communications, satellite sensing and locating, sensitive and accurate chemical sensors for the water column and subseafloor, and advanced remotely operated and autonomous platforms are all technologies that have opened new intellectual vistas, enabled new kinds of research, and described new aspects of the ocean. For the next decade’s priority science questions, new technology will be needed to foster and support innovative research.

New research tools, from sustained arrays for geochemical and biological observations to animal-borne sensing, will use sensors based on new approaches like “labs on a chip” and miniaturized wet-chemistry systems, as well as conventional sensing approaches improved with new technologies like nanotechnology and microelectronics. Extended and accurate lifetimes, reduced power requirements, and miniaturization can expand the suite of sensors available for long-term unattended measurements to address issues of ocean change on a global scale. Similarly, recent advances in the use of video and image processing techniques, originally adopted for military and homeland security applications, offer the possibility for more accurate and cost-effective applications such as fishery stock assessment. An area ripe

_________________

6 “Interdisciplinary research is a mode of research by teams or individuals that integrates information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from two or more disciplines or bodies of specialized knowledge to advance fundamental understanding or to solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline or area of research practice” (NRC, 2004).

Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

for technology development is seafloor geodesy. Very-high-precision, persistent geodetic measurements of the seafloor, especially in conjunction with measurements of the water from buoys and tide gauges, could allow for quicker detection of and response to geohazards such as local (near-field) tsunamis.

Unmanned sensor platforms are expanding the feasibility of spatially and temporally extensive ocean observation. Unmanned aerial vehicles and autonomous underwater vehicles carry sensors to vantage points from above the ocean surface to the deep ocean, even under ice; floats, gliders, and unattended surface platforms extend affordable spatial and temporal coverage of low-power sensors. Development of new low-cost and low-power sensors with long accurate lives for these platforms promises another decade of dramatic advances in ocean measurement. New vehicle capabilities are targets of research, including vehicles powered by energy harvested from the environment and development of methods for onboard analysis and/or preservation of water column and seafloor samples.

Social media and wireless communications also offer an entirely new way to advance research and obtain data otherwise not available. For example, Sikuliaq and other new research vessels are equipped to enable telepresence, which can facilitate virtual participation of researchers and students and can also provide outreach and education opportunities. Jellywatch7 uses cell phones as sensors for citizen-science measurements to determine the distribution and abundance of jellyfish washing up onshore. Our Radioactive Ocean8 uses crowdsourcing to fund monitoring of radioactivity in the Pacific Ocean related to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident. It also provides citizen scientists the opportunity to propose a location for monitoring and provide samples for analysis.

Finally, high-performance computing, big data, and software development across disciplines are all high-impact activities that, although not part of ocean science, are nonetheless necessary to advance the field. OCE will need to take a proactive approach to foster relationships within other directorates at NSF and with other agencies to ensure that new technologies contribute to the advancement of ocean science.

WOULD A DIFFERENT COMMITTEE HAVE CHOSEN DIFFERENT PRIORITY SCIENCE QUESTIONS?

The themes and specific questions presented above were coalesced from a large amount of input, using formal methods to aggregate and differentiate information. However, the eight selected science priorities are still similar in scope and focus to those in many prior reports. As such, the committee is not breaking totally new ground but rather is providing a synthesis of the input, based on the committee members’ collective insights and perspectives. Because the next chapters of this report draw conclusions and make recommendations based on these eight priorities, it is fair to ask how different the conclusions and recommendations might be if the decadal science questions were different.

As stated above, given the broad community, agency, and international input on which the assessment was based, it is unlikely that a different group would have arrived at eight completely different questions. Although a few of the science questions might have had a different emphasis, the more detailed descriptions of the questions would be expected to contain substantial overlap. Furthermore, many of the committee’s conclusions and recommendations are based on the alignment of the eight science questions to NSF-supported infrastructure in the next chapter. In that discussion, it is shown that much of the infrastructure is multi-use and of high relevance for many of the priorities. Hence, changes of a few science questions would have had little effect on the infrastructure assessment. It is possible that, for those infrastructure assets with moderate to high relevance for only a few of the questions, a change in the focus of those questions could influence their alignment with infrastructure.

REFERENCES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY

Ainsworth, C.H., J.F. Samhouri, D.S. Busch, W.W.L. Cheung, J. Dunne, and T.A. Okey. 2011. Potential impacts of climate change on Northeast Pacific marine food webs and fisheries. ICES Journal of Marine Science 68(6): 1217-1229.

Allen, R., D. Forsyth, J. Gaherty, J. Orcutt, D. Toomey, and A. Trehu. 2012. Ocean bottom seismology workshop report. IRIS Consortium. 40 pp.

Aquarium of the Pacific and NOAA. 2013. The Report of Ocean Exploration 2020: A National Forum. Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, CA.

Barange, M., J.G. Field, R.P. Harris, E. Hofmann, R.I. Perry, and F.E. Werner. 2010. Marine Ecosystems and Global Change. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. 412 pp.

Billick, I., I. Nann, B. Kloeppel, J.C. Leong, J. Hodder, J. Sanders, and H. Swain. 2013. Field Stations and Marine Laboratories of the Future: A Strategic Vision. National Associations of Marine Laboratories and Organization of Biological Field Stations, Woodside, CA.

Bollmann, M., T. Bosch, F. Colijn, R. Ebinghaus, R. Froese, K. Güssow, S. Khalilian, A. Körtzinger, M. Langenbuch, M. Latif, B. Matthiessen, F. Melzner, A. Oschlies, S. Petersen, A. Proelß, M. Quaas, J. Reichenbach, T. Requate, T. Reusch, P. Rosenstiel, J.O. Schmidt, K. Schrottke, H. Sichelschmidt, U. Siebert, R. Soltwedel, U. Sommer, K. Stattegger, H. Sterr, R. Sturm, T. Treude, A. Vafeidis, C. van Bernem, J. van Beusekom, R. Voss, M.Visbeck, M. Wahl, K. Wallmann, and F. Weinberger. 2010. World ocean review: Living with the oceans. Maribus, GmbH in cooperation with Future Ocean: Kiel Marine Science, Hamburg, Germany.

Bowles, M.W., J.M. Mogollon, S. Kasten, M. Zabel, and K-U. Hinrichs. 2014. Global rates of marine sulfate reduction and implications for sub-sea-floor metabolic activities. Science 344: 889-891.

Bracken, M.E.S., S.E. Friberg, C.A. Gonzalez-Dorantes, and S.L. Williams. 2008. Functional consequences of realistic biodiversity changes in a marine ecosystem. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 105: 924-928.

_________________

7 See http://www.jellywatch.org/.

8 See ourradioactiveocean.com.

Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

Butchart, S.H.M., M. Walpole, B. Collen, A. van Strien, J.P.W. Scharlemann, R.E.A. Almond, J.E.M. Baillie, B. Bomhard, C. Brown, J. Bruno, K.E. Carpenter, G.M. Carr, J. Chanson, A.M. Chenery, J. Csirke, N.C. Davidson, F. Dentener, M. Foster, A. Galli, J.N. Galloway, P. Genovesi, R.D. Gregory, M. Hockings, V. Kapos, J.-F. Lamarque, F. Leverington, J. Loh, M.A. McGeoch, L. McRae, A. Minasyan, M.H. Morcillo, T.E.E. Oldfield, D. Pauly, S. Quader, C. Revenga, J.R. Sauer, B. Skolnik, D. Spear, D. Stanwell-Smith, S.N. Stuart, A. Symes, M. Tierney, T.D. Tyrell, J.-C. Vie, and R. Watson. 2010. Global biodiversity: Indicators of recent declines. Science 328: 1164-1168.

Carpenter, S., B. Walker, J.M. Anderies, and N. Abel. 2001. From metaphor to measurement: Resilience of what to what? Ecosystems 4: 765-781.

The Challenger Society and the National Oceanography Centre Association. 2013. Scanning the Horizon: The Future Role of Research Ships and Autonomous Measurement Systems in Marine and Earth Sciences.

Collie, J.S., K. Richardson, and J.H. Steele. 2004. Regime shifts: Can ecological theory illuminate the mechanisms? Progress in Oceanography 60(2-4): 281-302. DOI: 10.1016/j.pocean.2004.02.013.

Colwell, F.S., and S. D’Hondt. 2013. Nature and extent of deep biosphere. Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry 75: 547-574.

Consortium for Ocean Leadership. 2007. Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) Scientific Objectives and Network Design: A Closer Look. Consortium for Ocean Leadership, Washington, DC.

Consortium for Ocean Leadership. 2010. Ocean Observatories Initiative: Final Network Design. Consortium for Ocean Leadership, Washington, DC.

Consortium for Ocean Leadership. 2013. Ocean Priorities. Consortium for Ocean Leadership, Washington, DC.

Costanza, R., R. d’Arge, R. de Groot, S. Farber, M. Grasso, B. Hannon, K. Limburg, S. Naeem, R.V. O’Neill, J. Paruelo, R.G. Gaskins, P. Sutton, and M. van den Belt. 1997. The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital. Nature 387: 253-260.

Côté, I.M., and E.S. Darling. 2010. Rethinking ecosystem resilience in the face of climate change. PLoS Biology 8(7): e1000438. DOI: 10.1371/ journal.pbio.1000438.

Council of Canadian Academies. 2012. 40 Priority Research Questions for Ocean Science in Canada. Council of Canadian Academies, Ottawa, Canada.

Delbecq, A.L., and A.H. Van de Ven. 1971. A group process model for problem identification and program planning. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science VII: 466-491.

Detrick, R.S., and D.W. Forsyth, eds., 2002. Oceanic mantle dynamics implementation plan: Report of a community workshop. Report to the National Science Foundation. 43 pp.

Di Lorenzo, E., V. Combes, J.E. Keister, P.T. Straub, A.C. Thomas, P.J.S. Franks, M.D. Ohman, J.C. Furtado, A. Bracco, S.J. Bograd, W.T. Peterson, F.B. Schwing, S. Chiba, B. Taguchi, S. Hormazabal, and C. Parada. 2013. Synthesis of Pacific Ocean climate and ecosystem dynamics. Oceanography 26(4): 68-81.

Doney, S.C. 2006. The dangers of ocean acidification. Scientific American 294: 58-65. DOI: 10.1038/scientificamerican0306-58.

Durack, P.J., S.E. Wijffels, and R.J. Matear. 2012. Ocean salinities reveal strong global water cycle intensification during 1950 to 2000. Science 336: 455-458.

Edwards, K.J., K. Becker, and F. Colwell. 2012. The deep, dark energy biosphere: Intraterrestrial life on Earth. Annual Review of Earth Planetary Sciences 40: 551-68.

Estes, J.A., and D.O. Duggins. 1995. Sea otters and kelp forests in Alaska: Generality and variation in a community ecological paradigm. Ecological Monographs 65: 75-100.

Estes, J.A., J. Terborgh, J.S. Brashares, M.E. Power, J. Berger, W.J. Bond, S.R. Carpenter, T.E. Essington, R.D. Holt, J.B.C. Jackson, R.J. Marquis, L. Oksanen, R.T. Paine, E.K. Pikitch, W.J. Ripple, S.A. Sandin, M. Scheffer, T.W. Schoener, J.B. Shurin, A.R.E. Sinclair, M.E. Soulé, R. Virtanen, and D.A. Wardle. 2011. Trophic downgrading of planet Earth. Science 333: 301-306.

European Marine Board. 2013. Navigating the Future IV. European Marine Board, Ostend, Belgium.

Fogarty, M.J., and S.A. Murawski. 1998. Large-scale disturbance and the structure of marine systems: Fishery impacts on Georges Bank. Ecological Applications 8(S1): S6-S22.

Folke, C. 2003. Freshwater and resilience: A shift in perspective. Philosophical Transcriptions of the Royal Society of London, Series B 358: 2027-2036.

Folke, C., S. Carpenter, B. Walker, M. Scheffer, T. Elmqvist, L. Gunderson, and C.S. Holling. 2004. Regime shifts, resilience, and biodiversity in ecosystem management. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 35: 557-581.

Forman, E.H., and S.I. Gass. 2001. The analytic hierarchy process—an exposition. Operations Research 49(4): 469-486.

Frank, K.T., B. Petrie, J.S. Choi, and W.C. Leggett. 2005. Trophic cascades in a formerly cod-dominated ecosystem. Science 308: 1621-1623.

Holbrook, W.S., ed., 2010. Marine seismic imaging: Illuminating Earth’s structure, climate, oceans and hazards. Report to the National Science Foundation. 14 pp.

Holling, C.S. 1973. Resilience and stability of ecological systems. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 4: 1-24.

Huntington, T.G. 2006. Evidence for intensification of the global water cycle: Review and synthesis. Journal of Hydrology 319: 83-95.

IODP (International Ocean Discovery Program). 2011. Illuminating Earth’s Past, Present, and Future: Science Plan for 2013-2023. La Jolla, CA: IODP, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego.

IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). 2013. Working Group I Contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), Final Draft, Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Underlying Scientific-Technical Assessment. WG-I: 12th/ Doc. 2b, Add.1. (22IX.2013). Cambridge University Press, New York.

Ives, A.R. 2007. Diversity and stability in ecological communities. Pp. 98-110 in Theoretical Ecology: Principles and Applications, edited by R. May and A. McLean. Oxford University Press, New York.

Ives, A.R., and S.R. Carpenter. 2007. Stability and diversity of ecosystems. Science 317: 58-62.

Jorgensen, B.B., and A. Boetius. 2007. Feast and famine—microbial life in the deep-sea bed. Nature Reviews Microbiology 5: 770-781.

Kallmeyer, J., R. Pockalny, R.R. Adhikari, D.C. Smith, and S. D’Hondt. 2012. Global distribution of microbial abundance and biomass in subseafloor sediment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109: 16213-16216.

Keeling, R.F., and A.C. Manning. 2013. Studies of recent changes in atmospheric O2 content. Pp. 385-404 in Treatise on Geochemistry, Vol. 5, edited by R.F. Keeling and L. Russell. Elsevier, Amsterdam.

Klein, R.T.J., and R.J. Nicholls. 1999. Assessment of coastal vulnerability to climate change. Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 28: 182-187.

Lay, T., ed., 2009. Seismological grand challenges in understanding Earth’s dynamic systems. Report to the National Science Foundation, IRIS Consortium. 76 pp.

May, R.M. 2001. Stability and complexity in model ecosystems: Princeton Landmarks in Biology. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

Naeem, S., and J.P. Wright. 2003. Disentangling biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning: Deriving solutions to a seemingly insurmountable problem. Ecology Letters 6: 567-579.

National Ocean Council. 2013a. Federal Oceanographic Fleet Status Report. Executive Office of the President, Washington, DC.

National Ocean Council. 2013b. National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan. Executive Office of the President, Washington, DC.

Nicholls, R.J.,N. Marinova, J.A. Lowe, S. Brown, P. Vellinga, D. de Gusmão, J. Hinkel, and R.S.J. Tol. 2011. Sea-level rise and its possible impacts given a ‘beyond 4°C world’ in the twenty-first century. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 369: 161-181.

Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). 2012. The Economic Value of Resilient Coastal Communities. Available, http://www.ppi.noaa.gov/wp-content/uploads/PPI_Ocean_Econ_Stats_revised_031912.pdf.

NOAA Research Council. 2013. Environmental Understanding to Ensure America’s Vital and Sustainable Future: Research and Development at NOAA, Five-year Research and Development Plan 2013-2017. NOAA, Silver Spring, MD.

NOC (National Ocean Council). 2013. National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan. Executive Office of the President, Washington, DC.

NRC (National Research Council). 2004. Future Needs in Deep Submergence Science. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC.

NRC. 2006. Dynamic Changes in Marine Ecosystems: Fishing, Food Webs, and Future Options. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC. 148 pp.

NRC. 2009a. Oceanography in 2025: Proceedings of a Workshop. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC.

NRC. 2009b. Science at Sea: Meeting Future Oceanographic Goals with a Robust Academic Research Fleet. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC.

NRC. 2011a. Critical Infrastructure for Ocean Research and Societal Needs in 2030. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC.

NRC. 2011b. Scientific Ocean Drilling: Accomplishments and Challenges. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC.

NRC. 2012a. Earth Science and Applications from Space: A Midterm Assessment of NASA’s Implementation of the Decadal Survey. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC.

NRC. 2012b. New Research Opportunities in Earth Science. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC.

NRC. 2012c. Sea-Level Rise for the Coasts of California, Oregon and Washington: Past, Present and Future. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC.

NRC. 2014. Robust Methods for the Analysis of Images and Videos for Fisheries Stock Assessment: Summary of a Workshop. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC.

NSF (National Science Foundation). 2001. Ocean Sciences at the New Millennium. NSF, Division of Ocean Sciences, Arlington, VA.

NSF. 2014. Investing in Science, Engineering, and Education for the Nation’s Future: Strategic Plan for 2014-2018. NSF, Arlington, VA.

NSF Advisory Committee for Geosciences. 2014. Dynamic Earth: GEO Imperatives & Frontiers 2015-2020. NSF, Arlington, VA.

NSF Committee of Visitors for the Biological Oceanography, Chemical Oceanography, Integrated Ocean Drilling, Marine Geology & Geophysics, Ocean Education, Ocean Technology and Physical Oceanography programs. 2012. Report of the 2012 Committee of Visitors, Research and Education Programs, Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE) Years 2009-2011. NSF, Arlington, VA.

NSTC (National Science and Technology Council). 2013. Science for an Ocean Nation: Update of the Ocean Research Priorities Plan. Executive Office of the President, Washington, DC.

NSTC Joint Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology. 2007. Charting the Course for Ocean Science in the United States for the Next Decade: An Ocean Research Priorities Plan and Implementation Strategy. Available, http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/nstc-orppis.pdf.

Orcutt, B.N., W. Bach, K. Becker, A.T. Fisher, M. Hentscher, B.M. Toner, C.G. Wheat, and K.J. Edwards. 2011. Colonization of subsurface microbial observatories deployed in young ocean crust. ISME Journal 5: 692-703.

Orr, J.C., V.J. Fabry, O. Aumont, L. Bopp, S.C. Doney, R.A. Feely, A. Gnanadesikan, N. Gruber, A. Ishida, J. Fortunat, R.M. Key, K. Lindsay, E. Maier-Reimer, R. Matear, P. Monfray, A. Mouchet, R.G. Najjar, G. Plattner, K.B. Bodgers, C.L. Sabine, J.L. Sarmiento, R. Schlitzer, R.D. Slater, I.J. Totterdell, M. Weirig, Y. Yamanaka, and A. Yool. 2005. Anthropogenic ocean acidification over the twenty-first century and its impact on calcifying organisms. Nature 437: 681-686.

Paine, R.T. 1992. Food-web analysis through field measurements of per capita interaction strength. Nature 355: 73-75.

Paine, R.T., M.J. Tegner, and E.A. Johnson. 1998. Compounded perturbations yield ecological surprises. Ecosystems 1: 535-545.

Parkes, R.J., B. Cragg, E. Roussel, G. Webster, A. Weightman, and H. Sass. 2014. A review of prokaryotic populations and processes in sub-seafloor sediments, including biosphere:geosphere interactions. Marine Geology 352: 409-425.

Rabalais, N., R.J. Diaz, L.A. Levin, R.E. Turner, D. Gilbert, and J. Zhang. 2010. Dynamics and distribution of natural and human-caused coastal hypoxia. Biogeosciences 7: 585-619.

Rotzoll, K., and C.H. Fletcher. 2013. Assessment of groundwater inundation as a consequence of sea-level rise. Nature Climate Change 3: 477-481.

Rudd, M.A. 2014. Scientists’ perspectives on global ocean research priorities. Frontiers in Marine Science: Marine Affairs and Policy 1: 36. DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2014.00036.

Small, C., and R.J. Nicholls. 2003. A global analysis of human settlement in coastal zones. Journal of Coastal Research 19: 584-599.

Springer, A.M., and. G.B. van Vliet. 2014. Climate change, pink salmon, and the nexus between bottom-up and top-down forcing in the subarctic Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111(18): E1880-E1888. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1319089111.

Srivastava, D.S., and M. Vellend. 2005. Biodiversity-ecosystem function research: Is it relevant to conservation? Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 36: 267-294.

Steele, J.H. 1998. Regime shifts in marine ecosystems. Ecological Applications 8: S33-S36.

Sutherland, W.J., S. Armstrong-Brown, P.R. Armsworth, T. Brereton, J. Brickland, C.D. Campbell, and A.R. Watkinson. 2006. The identification of one hundred ecological questions of high policy relevance in the UK. Journal of Applied Ecology 43: 617-627.

Syvitski, J.P.M., C.J. Vörösmarty, A.J. Kettner, and P. Green. 2005. Impact of humans on the flux of terrestrial sediment to the global coastal ocean. Science 308: 376-380.

Turner, E., D.B. Haidvogel, E. Hofmann, H. Batchelder, M.J. Fogarty, and T. Powell. US GLOBEC: Program goals, approaches and advances. Oceanography 26(4): 12-21.

U.S. CLIVAR Scientific Steering Committee. 2013. U.S. Climate Variability and Predictability Program Science Plan. U.S. CLIVAR Project Office, Washington, DC.

USCOP (United States Commission on Ocean Policy). 2004. An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century, Final Report. USCOP, Washington, DC.

White House Council on Environmental Quality. 2010. Final Recommendations of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force. Executive Office of the President, Washington, DC. Available, http://www.whitehouse.gov/files/documents/OPTF_FinalRecs.pdf.

White House Council on Environmental Quality and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. 2013. Federal Ocean and Coastal Activities Report to the U.S. Congress. Executive Office of the President, Washington, DC.

Whitman W.B., D.C. Coleman, and W.J. Wiebe. 1998. Prokaryotes: The unseen majority. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 95: 6578-6583.

Worm, B., and R.A. Myers. 2003. Meta-analysis of cod-shrimp interactions reveals top-down control in oceanic food webs. Ecology 84: 162-173.

Zhou, S., A.D.M. Smith, and E.E. Knudsen. 2014. Ending overfishing while catching more fish. Fish and Fisheries. DOI: 10.1111/faf.12077.

Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page27
Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page28
Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page29
Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page30
Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page31
Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page32
Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page33
Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page34
Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page35
Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page36
Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page37
Suggested Citation:"2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page38
Next: 3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities »
Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences Get This Book
×
Buy Paperback | $44.00 Buy Ebook | $35.99
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF

Ocean science connects a global community of scientists in many disciplines - physics, chemistry, biology, geology and geophysics. New observational and computational technologies are transforming the ability of scientists to study the global ocean with a more integrated and dynamic approach. This enhanced understanding of the ocean is becoming ever more important in an economically and geopolitically connected world, and contributes vital information to policy and decision makers charged with addressing societal interests in the ocean.

Science provides the knowledge necessary to realize the benefits and manage the risks of the ocean. Comprehensive understanding of the global ocean is fundamental to forecasting and managing risks from severe storms, adapting to the impacts of climate change, and managing ocean resources. In the United States, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is the primary funder of the basic research which underlies advances in our understanding of the ocean. Sea Change addresses the strategic investments necessary at NSF to ensure a robust ocean scientific enterprise over the next decade. This survey provides guidance from the ocean sciences community on research and facilities priorities for the coming decade and makes recommendations for funding priorities.

  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook, NAP.edu's online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    Switch between the Original Pages, where you can read the report as it appeared in print, and Text Pages for the web version, where you can highlight and search the text.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  9. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!