National Academies Press: OpenBook

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

Chapter:3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities

« Previous: 2 Ocean Science Priorities for 2015-2025
Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

3


The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities

We need to stop thinking about infrastructure as an economic stimulant and start thinking about it as a strategy. Economic stimulants produce Bridges to Nowhere. Strategic investment in infrastructure produces a foundation for long-term growth.

—Roger McNamee

During times of increasing federal support, the Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE) has been able to initiate new technologies and sustain research facilities, in addition to maintaining a diverse research portfolio that took advantage of the new capabilities. Since 1970, the total budget at OCE has grown by roughly 75% in 2014 dollars (Figure 3-1). When looking at the overall budget, there has been an almost linear long-term increase, punctuated by a few periods of greater growth (such as 2000-2004). However, when these data are parsed by the proportion of funds spent on core science versus those spent on infrastructure and facilities, the recent trends are quite different (Figure 3-2). Since 2000, the operations and maintenance (O&M) costs of OCE’s research infrastructure generally have increased at a rate faster than inflation.1

The proportion of the OCE budget spent on infrastructure has grown at the expense of core programs. In 2000, 62% of the budget was available to support core research2 programs (Figure 3-2). By 2014, core programs received only 46% of the funding. Budget projections from the National Science Foundation (NSF) show that this high proportion of the budget being dedicated to major infrastructure is expected to continue through at least 2019. The rising expense of supporting major infrastructure during a period of flat budgets has reduced the amount of funding available to support OCE core science programs because most infrastructure expenditures represent “fixed costs” in terms of O&M and multi-year contractual obligations.

Within the category of “infrastructure” in Figure 3-2, NSF includes the academic research fleet, the National Deep Submergence Facility (NDSF), scientific ocean drilling, the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI), and field stations and marine laboratories. There are many smaller facilities that are funded out of the core programs, shown in Table 3-1. The cost of infrastructure includes O&M for a number of programs but does not include most capital costs of construction or major refits.3

For fiscal year (FY) 2014-2017, the Directorate for Geosciences (GEO) is planning to provide $42 million in Integrative and Collaborative Education and Research (ICER) funds to help OCE cover O&M costs for OOI as it comes online. Although this short-term supplement could ease the pressure on the core research budget for a few years, it is not a permanent solution; starting in FY2018, the cost of infrastructure would again consume more of the OCE total budget at the expense of core science.

The current imbalance of infrastructure and core research funding drives much of the interest in evaluating the existing portfolio of NSF-funded multi-user ocean research facilities as part of the analysis of the research infrastructure needed to address the decadal science priorities identified in Chapter 2. A more detailed discussion of OCE’s current budget situation is presented in Chapter 4.

NSF provided background and budget information on its investments in ocean research infrastructure, which the committee categorized as “major” facilities and infrastructure (annual budgets of $5 million/yr and higher) or “minor”

_________________

1 Inflation adjustments were based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index annual average, with the exception of 2014; data from 2014 were based on an average of values from January to November.

2 See Chapter 2 for a discussion of the term “core research.”

3 Whereas some mid-sized infrastructure construction or recapitalization is included in the OCE budget (e.g., an upgrade of the human-occupied vehicle Alvin), large-scale construction (e.g., new research vessels, the JOIDES Resolution refit, OOI) is sourced from an NSF-wide Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) account.

Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

image

FIGURE 3-1 OCE annual budget from 1970 to 2014. Annual budget data in current dollars was obtained from NSF, July and December 2014. 2014 inflation-adjusted values were calculated based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index annual average except for 2014, which was based on an average of values from January to November.

image

FIGURE 3-2 NSF investments in core ocean science (blue) and infrastructure (orange) since 2000, as a percentage of the total OCE budget. These percentages were calculated based on OCE data presented in the following chapter (Figure 4-1). Fiscal year (FY) 2015-2019 projections assume flat budgets with no inflationary increases. OCE defines “infrastructure” as the academic research fleet, OOI, scientific ocean drilling, field stations and marine laboratories, the accelerator mass spectrometer facility, and miscellaneous smaller facilities. Facilities held in the core programs (shown in Table 3-1) are included in core science, not in infrastructure. Data from NSF, December 2014.

Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

TABLE 3-1 Small Facilities and Infrastructure Funded by NSF OCE Core Programs. Data from NSF, November 2013.

Type of Infrastructure Program Date Started Funding Support O&M (per year)
Platforms and Instruments POOL - mooring equipment 2000 PO None; periodic upgrades are made using mid-sized infrastructure funds and program funds
Ocean Bottom Seismograph Instrument Pool (OBSIP) 1999 MGG/ODP ~$3.5 million, with additional experiment costs
AUV/Glider Pool 2013? BO/CO/PO To be determined; may rely on mid-sized infrastructure funds
Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS) deep cabled node 2002 OTIC $285,000-600,000 (2007-2013)
ALOHA Cabled Observatory deep cabled node 2002 MRI/OI/ OTIC $390,000-440,000 (2012-2014)
Shore-Based Facilities National Ocean Sciences Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Facility 1991 AMS/IPS $2.5 million
Databases and Repositories CLIVAR and Carbon Hydrographic Data Office 2004 PO $400,000-500,000
Biological and Chemical Oceanography Data Management Office 2006 BO/CO $1.6 million
Scientific Ocean Drilling Core Repository MGG ~$800,000
Geoinformatics Facilities Support 2010 EAR/MGG ~$1.3 million for MGG; $0.7 million for EAR
Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System 2006 EAR/MGG ~$500,000 for MGG; ~$500,000 for EAR
Time Series Hawaii Ocean Time-Series (HOT) 1988 BO/CO/PO ~$1.6 million
Bermuda Atlantic Time-Series (BATS) 1988 BO/CO ~$1 million
Station S 1954 PO ~$200,000
Carbon Retention in a Colored Ocean (CARIACO) 1998 CO ~$600,000
Ocean Flux Program 1978 CO ~$500,000

NOTE: Abbreviations as follows: Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (MAS), Biological Oceanography (BO), Chemical Oceanography (CO), Integrative Programs Section (IPS), Major Research Instrumentation (MRI), Marine Geology and Geophysics (MGG), Ocean Drilling Program (ODP), Ocean Technology and Interdisciplinary Coordination(OTIC), Oceanographic Instrumentation (OI), Physical Oceanography (PO).

infrastructure (less than $5 million/yr). These investments include large programs such as the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP [2013-2018]), mid-scale facilities such as NDSF, and smaller instrumentation such as the ocean bottom seismograph instrument pool. The committee analyzed the current infrastructure portfolio against the science priorities in order to determine which facilities and infrastructure were indispensable or could strongly contribute to addressing the science priority questions. Table 3-2 summarizes the committee’s determination of the alignment between infrastructure and the decadal science priorities.

APPROACH

The committee’s assessment of how the current infrastructure matched to the science priorities was approached from two directions. First, the committee examined each question, including its sub-bullets and any geographic

Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

TABLE 3-2 Alignment of Current NSF-Funded Major Ocean Research Infrastructure to the Eight Decadal Science Priorities.

Sea level change Coastal and estuarine oceans Ocean and climate variability Biodiversity and marine ecosystems Marine food webs Ocean basins Geohazards Subseafloor environment
Fleet and Other Ships Global/Ocean C I C C/I C/I C C C
Regional/Coastal I C C/I C C
3-D Seismic Ship C/I C I
Ice-Capable C/I I C C/I C/I I
IODP JOIDES Resolution I I C C C
OOI Coastal I I I
Global I
Cabled I I I
Vehicles Alvin I I I
ROVs I I C
AUVs I I I I
Gliders I I I I
Other OBSs I C
Field Stations / Marine Labs I C I C C/I
Other Critical or Important Infrastructure Assets Argo, tide gauges, satellites, ice-ocean models, coring facilities and core repositories, mission-specific drilling platforms (MSPs) River gauges, hydrologic models, satellites, coring facilities and core repositories Argo, modeling, surface weather analyses, satellites, coring facilities and core repositories, acoustic tomography, MSPs Fisheries surveys and vessels, sequencing facilities, manned/unmanned vehicles, satellites Fisheries surveys and vessels, taxonomy, isotope facilities, manned/unmanned vehicles, satellites Global seismograph arrays, magnetotellurics, manned/unmanned vehicles, Chikyu , MSPs Interferometric synthetic aperture radar, seafloor geodesy, satellites, magnetotellurics, coring, manned/unmanned vehicles, Chikyu , MSPs Sequencing facilities, manned/unmanned vehicles, Chikyu , MSPs

NOTE: A “C” indicates a critical asset, while “I” indicates an important asset. The approach taken to reach this alignment is discussed in the text. A list of other critical or important infrastructure is also included.

Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

constraints (if applicable), and matched those with NSF-supported ocean research infrastructure. This also served to identify infrastructure gaps and needs that were not available through OCE or elsewhere in NSF and led to discussions about whether such facilities could be obtained through other avenues (e.g., other federal agencies, international programs, and private-sector organizations). Second, the committee examined each component of the infrastructure portfolio and matched its specifications and stated goals with the science priorities. This approach emphasized those facilities and infrastructure that served many science priorities, but it also highlighted those that did not. Both approaches are qualitative—informed by program goals, science plans, earlier reports of science and infrastructure needs, and community input from the Virtual Town Hall. Overall infrastructure cost and cost-effectiveness were not discussed at this stage, but they are discussed in detail in later sections of this chapter.

The committee identified four categories of alignment between infrastructure and the decadal science questions: critical, important, supportive, or not relevant. The science priority question cannot be addressed effectively without critical infrastructure assets, while important infrastructure is useful but not essential to address the question. Supportive infrastructure assets can provide useful information, but there are other options that may address the research question more directly, completely, or cost-effectively. An example of critical alignment (discussed in detail later) is the use of remotely operated vehicles to study the subseafloor environment; this science priority cannot be addressed without this specific infrastructure asset.

To focus on highest-priority issues, only the committee’s assessment of critical and important assets is shown in Table 3-2. Although the committee recognizes that not every member of the ocean science community will agree with each detail of the assessment presented in Table 3-2, the table presents a general overview of the alignments between infrastructure and the science priority questions. The assessment shows that infrastructure assets may be critical or important for some questions and supportive or not relevant for others. During the committee’s analysis, the infrastructure components that could be operated independently (for example, the fleet is composed of individual ships of varying sizes and capabilities) were considered separately with regard to their utility for the various science priorities. This segregation is reflected in Table 3-2.

Table 3-2 is followed by a detailed discussion of the major NSF-supported facilities and programs that have significant impacts on the OCE budget—the academic research fleet, IODP (2013-2018), OOI, and NDSF. Icebreakers, although not part of OCE’s portfolio, are discussed in association with the fleet, and other types of unmanned vehicles are discussed in conjunction with NDSF. As mentioned previously and shown in Table 3-1, there are a number of smaller, targeted infrastructure facilities and programs funded within

OCE’s core programs, at an annual cost of about $16 million total. These are not discussed in detail, given their minor impact on budget decisions.

THE ACADEMIC RESEARCH FLEET AND ICEBREAKERS

The UNOLS Fleet

Objectives and Background

Ships provide invaluable access to the sea and are an essential component of the ocean research infrastructure. Evolving science needs, cost pressures, and newer technologies—such as autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) incentivized by development for military and commercial applications (e.g., oil and gas, search and rescue)—have changed the oceanographic research toolbox. However, they have not lessened the reliance on highly capable ships. For example, the Argo drifter array is dependent on global repeat hydrography, taken from ships, to provide independent validation and calibration of temperature and salinity measurements. The committee determined that the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) fleet (Figure 3-3), especially the largest (Global class) general-purpose research vessels, is critical and indispensable for addressing the majority of the science priorities (Table 3-2).

UNOLS is widely recognized as providing effective oversight of the fleet (e.g., NRC, 2009), including efforts to determine how to right-size the fleet (the appropriate number of vessels, capabilities for scientific research, and geographic distribution) in times of constrained budgets and increased costs, such as fuel and crew. Frequent interactions between NSF and UNOLS contribute strongly to continued oversight and right-sizing. Concern about reducing the fleet due to limited budgets is not a new phenomenon (e.g., Malakoff, 2005; Mervis, 1996). Right-sizing the fleet is a crucial and continuing effort to manage costs, to match seagoing capabilities with research demands, and to maintain or replace current capabilities. The fleet has already been reduced from 27 vessels in 2005 to 20 vessels in 2014, and it is expected to shrink to 14 or fewer vessels by 2025, depending on whether one or more of the up to three planned Regional class research vessels (RCRVs) are built (discussed below).

The academic research fleet, especially the largest vessels, reflects the strong collaboration and shared needs of NSF and the U.S. Navy from the 1960s through the present. Of the 14 Global, Ocean, and Intermediate ships in the UNOLS fleet, more than half were built by the Navy. However, over the past two decades NSF and Navy missions have diverged, and federal funding for civilian oceanographic Navy ships has been reduced. While Navy has recently built two new Ocean class vessels (Armstrong and Ride), NSF has taken the lead on design, construction, and/or purchase

Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

image

FIGURE 3-3 Ship usage for the UNOLS fleet, broken out by class. (a) Average number of ship days per year (total number of days for each class, divided by the number of ships). In this graph, the Global class is divided into general purpose and specialized ships (Langseth, Sikuliaq, Atlantis). (b) Total number of ship days for each class. Data from NSF and UNOLS, October 2014.

of some of the new vessels for the academic fleet (e.g., Sikuliaq, RCRVs). Although it has long been familiar with the challenging process of operating and maintaining a fleet, NSF has recently taken on a greater role in managing fleet modernization, life cycles, and replacement.

Global Class

The Global class ships (and especially the general-purpose ships Melville, Knorr, Thompson, and Revelle) are the most heavily scheduled vessels in the UNOLS fleet (Figures 3-3 and 3-4) and have larger capacities at approximately the same day rate as the new Ocean class ships Ride and Armstrong (Figure 3-4). High demand for the Global ships in part reflects the growth of complex multi-investigator projects that require relatively large science parties. However, both Global class ships Knorr and Melville were retired in 2014. The Thompson will be re-engined, which will increase its service life to the 40-plus-year range. This is likely to occur at the end of 2015 (written response from Rose Dufour, NSF, January 5, 2015). The Atlantis is primarily committed as the tender of Alvin. The Langseth, specialized for three-dimensional seismic operations, has much lower usage than the rest of the Global class (Figure 3-4). It is typically available as a general-purpose platform only ~40% of the time (Houtman, 2014) and has limited capabilities as a general-purpose Global ship. Sikuliaq, with its ice-strengthened hull, is best suited for work in polar regions.

No additional general-purpose Global class vessels are currently planned. The Ocean class ships Ride and Armstrong—with shorter lengths, smaller numbers of berths, and day rates comparable to or higher than existing Globals—were planned as the next generation of large general-purpose vessels. Their completion is coinciding with the retirement of two Global class vessels (Melville and Knorr). However, they do not have sufficient capabilities for larger coring and seismic survey operations, unlike the retiring Global vessels. Assuming that Atlantis, Langseth, and Sikuliaq remain mostly committed to special purposes or specific regions, only Revelle will be available to meet the oceanographic community’s need for a general Global class ship by 2022 (if Thompson does not undergo a refit). Of particular concern for the marine geology and geophysics community, the fleet stands to lose some of its capacity for larger expeditionary operations such as long sediment coring—Knorr was the only UNOLS vessel capable of handling the NSF-funded long coring facility, which was put into caretaker status when the ship was retired. Because of limited over-the-side lifting capabilities, smaller coring operations are also compromised on the Ocean class ships, at least in their current configuration. In addition, programs that need to sample in high seas and work in rough weather regions like the Southern Ocean; highly interdisciplinary, multi-principal investigator, extended sampling programs like the International Study of Marine Biogeochemical Cycles of Trace Elements and their Isotopes (GEOTRACES); and those with large deck space requirements for deploying moorings and other instrumentation all need to use Global vessels. The anticipated shortage of Global class ship resources could be mitigated by exploring innovative exchange or leasing arrangements, either domestically or internationally (a possible example is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s [NOAA’s] Ronald H. Brown). Leasing international ships could, however, further limit utilization of the UNOLS fleet.

Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

image

FIGURE 3-4 Service life projections for the UNOLS fleet. The “M” shown on some ships’ expected service life stands for the approximate year of a mid-life refit, if one were to be scheduled. For the category “Ship Operation and Tech Day Rates,” numbers shown in black reflect 2013 rates, while numbers in red are operating estimates for future years (RCRV day rate estimate has been deflated to 2014 dollars). Anticipated berthing capacity for proposed Regional class ships are also shown in red. Day rates for all ships vary annually as a result of the actual number of funded operational days on each ship’s schedule. New Horizon will be withdrawn from service in February 2015 (personal communication, M. Leinen, October 2014). Modified from UNOLS, with additional data from NSF. NOTE: Abbreviations as follows: Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), Scripps Institution of Ocean - ography (SIO), University of Delaware (UD), Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON), Skidaway Institute of Oceanography/ The University of Georgia (SKID/UG), University of Minnesota Duluth (UMINN).

Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

Regional Class

NSF is currently considering building between one and three new RCRVs. The planning process for the RCRVs extends back to at least 2001, when the idea of three new Regional vessels was advanced in the Federal Oceanographic Facilities Committee report Charting the Future for the National Academic Research Fleet (FOFC, 2001). The Science Mission Requirements for these vessels date back to 2002 (UNOLS, 2003), based on a community workshop and input. GEO has proposed the RCRVs as a potential Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) project (NSF, 2014). OCE funded Oregon State University to be the lead institution for designing the RCRVs, which recently passed the preliminary design review phase (August 2014). The earliest RCRV could begin construction is 2017. As currently planned, NSF estimates the RCRV day rate (including marine technicians) at about $27,000 in 2021 ($22,000-23,000 in 2014 dollars4), based on a 200-day schedule, which is the lower bound of the 200- to 230-day operating year for the UNOLS Regional class (written response from Bauke Houtman, NSF, October 28 and December 10, 2014).

The new RCRVs are likely to be significantly more capable than existing Regional vessels, with length and berthing capabilities that are more similar to the Intermediates Oceanus and Endeavor, and the Ocean class Kilo Moana (Figure 3-4). These features reflect the ocean sciences community’s desire to address more complex, multidisciplinary science questions in coastal regions.

Usage and Budget

Figure 3-3 shows steady use of the Global and Regional classes and declining use of the Coastal/Local class. In addition, there is a disturbing trend of substantially higher day rates for the Ride, Armstrong, Sikuliaq, and the planned RCRVs when compared to vessels that have been recently retired (Figure 3-4). In the case of the Regional vessels, “capability creep” (discussed further below) is likely to be responsible for the higher estimated day rates. Because of these higher day rates, the retirement of the same number of lower-cost ships will not be enough to maintain a level budget. Therefore, additional pressure on the budget can only be avoided through overall reductions in the number of vessels.

For FY2014, the provisional NSF contribution to the UNOLS fleet operating budget was $83 million (written response from NSF OCE, June 1, 2014). NSF funded a significant percentage of total fleet costs in FY2014—67% of the Global class, 65% of the Ocean class, 51% of the Regional class, and 30% of the Local class (Houtman, 2014). These percentages could increase in future years if other agencies experience budget decreases, which would put additional fiscal pressure on OCE. UNOLS has been exploring alternatives to meet budget and usage shortfalls. These include strategies such as partnering with industry to use UNOLS ships as test platforms for new products and occasional commercial charters on UNOLS vessels, thereby reducing the day rate to federal agencies. An additional approach may be to remove some of the Coastal/Local ships from the UNOLS pool, given their relatively low utilization and ease of replacement through short-term charters of private-sector vessels.

Ice-Capable Ships

Ice-capable ships provide access to polar regions, necessary for many emerging and existing science fields. The newly commissioned Sikuliaq, the only ice-strengthened ship in the UNOLS fleet, can operate in 2.5 ft of ice. Through the Division of Polar Programs, NSF operates two other ice-capable research vessels—Nathaniel B. Palmer, a 308-ft-long icebreaker capable of moving through 3 ft of ice, and Laurence M. Gould, a 230-ft-long ice-strengthened vessel capable of breaking through 1 ft of ice. These vessels are under charter and their costs, capabilities, and longevity are evaluated by NSF as contracts are considered for renewal. NSF also has access to U.S. Coast Guard vessels for heavy icebreaking (Polar Star) and medium icebreaking (Healy) that support both science and logistical missions, such as breaking the channel into the Antarctic McMurdo Station for annual resupply and science operations in the high Arctic. There has recently been discussion among Congress, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other federal agencies about the rationale and cost to maintain U.S. capabilities for heavy icebreaking5 as well as the viability of chartering non-U.S. icebreakers for some operations. The polar ships occasionally support lower-latitude research cruises, which can help to avoid long and costly transits for UNOLS vessels and provide cost efficiencies for both the polar ships and the academic research fleet.

Alignment with the Science Priorities

Some of the strongest alignments between current infrastructure and the decadal science priorities are seen when assessing the fleet. This is supported by conclusions from many previous reports, which state that the ocean sciences will continue to be a strong user of ships now and in the future. The Global class vessels are either critical or important for all decadal science priorities (Table 3-2), which is consistent with the Science at Sea report (NRC, 2009). That committee concluded that current trajectories in ocean science will increase demand for the Global class, with their greater deck loading, berthing, and sea state capacities, and that new technologies are likely to increase the need for research ships capable of supporting multidisciplinary, multi-investigator

_________________

4 This calculation uses an integrated inflation rate for fuel (2.9% or 4.0%) and nonfuel (2.2%) costs and rounds off to the nearest thousand dollars.

5 See, for example, http://transportation.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=386881, a July 2014 House hearing on “Implementing U.S. Policy in the Arctic.”

Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

science. The science priorities point to a continuing need for ships capable of long-leg hydrographic cruises measuring the full suite of physical and biogeochemical variables at high precision, and for deployment of the large tools typically used by the marine geology and geophysics communities.

The Science at Sea report also discusses the need for larger, more capable Regional ships to explore coastal processes and to collect sediment, water, and biological samples from nearshore areas. In addition, OCE program managers identified potential uses for the planned RCRVs, including utility as support ships for OOI and for deployment of instruments along coastal margins (Houtman, 2014).

Ice-capable ships are important for answering a number of the priority research questions in polar oceans and will continue to be critical for understanding climate change, ocean-ice interactions, and polar marine food webs.

Additional Comments

In the UNOLS lexicon, ships are categorized into Global, Ocean/Intermediate, Regional, or Coastal/Local classes (Figures 3-3 and 3-4). These designations have evolved over time and do not necessarily reflect each vessel’s capabilities. For instance, Ocean and Intermediate class ships are listed together but have varying capabilities and capacities that will affect their usage. Because Ride and Armstrong will not be available until 2015, it is difficult to predict their use at this time or their ability to approach the capabilities of retiring Global class vessels. In addition, specialized ships (such as Langseth or Atlantis) confound simple analyses of ship class and usage.

To increase the availability of general-purpose Global research vessels, NSF could look for cost-effective ways for such ships to be made more readily available. For example, NSF could ask NOAA and UNOLS to determine whether the Ronald H. Brown could be used by UNOLS through mutual scheduling or even inclusion into the UNOLS fleet proper. Discussions could also be held with other large research vessel operators to see if any excess capacity could be used to support NSF needs. Examples to consider might be the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s R/V Falkor or the acoustically quiet NRV Alliance, operated by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Centre for Research and Maritime Experimentation. This type of discussion could explore how collaborations between agencies and nonfederal entities could be mutually beneficial and fiscally attractive.

Over a decade has been spent planning for the new RCRVs. The current design approaches the capabilities of the Intermediate class—the next larger class of ship—which results in substantially higher expected day rates than the current Regional class vessels. This expansion in capability and cost, combined with the restricted geographical range associated with the RCRV’s regional status (Figure 3-4), raises the question of whether the current design is well matched for expected future use. Additionally, budget realities raise the question of whether three new RCRVs are appropriate and affordable. The committee notes that RCRV planning began when the OCE budget was rising (Figure 3-1) and the ratio of infrastructure to science was more balanced than at present.

SCIENTIFIC OCEAN DRILLING

Objectives and Budget

NSF has supported an ocean drilling program for many decades: the Deep Sea Drilling Program (1968-1983), the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP [1983-2003]), the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP [2003-2013]), and the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP [2013-2018]), which will operate until 2018 in its initial 5-year phase. The 2011 NRC report Scientific Ocean Drilling: Accomplishments and Challenges found that “the U.S.supported scientific ocean drilling programs . . . have been very successful, contributing significantly to a broad range of scientific accomplishments in a number of Earth science disciplines” (NRC, 2011b). The high-level science themes of IODP (2003-2013) and IODP (2013-2018) are similar to one another, involving studies of past climate and environmental change, microbial life in the deep subseafloor, geohazards, and solid earth processes.

The scientific ocean drilling programs have generally been regarded as “infrastructure heavy.” By design, most direct IODP funding is allocated for facilities and operations. The smaller amount for science support has primarily been associated with the U.S. Science Support Program, with the majority of the funding going toward travel and salary support for U.S. scientist participation in shipboard operations and required post-cruise meetings. Although most pre-drilling site survey activities have been funded by core programs and peer reviewed on their independent scientific merits, a small portion of NSF’s IODP funds were in the past allocated to site surveys that were considered necessary to maximize the success or safety of drilling operations. Prior to FY2015, a smaller portion of funds from NSF-IODP were allocated for initial post-expedition research, but most post-expedition analyses were funded through core programs. Starting in FY2015, all site surveys and post-expedition research will be funded through the core science programs.

Figure 3-5 shows the distribution of NSF funding for the JOIDES Resolution facility and for science support (external to core programs) during IODP (2003-2013) and IODP (2013-2018). Although the data do not reflect the full time period, in part because of the 2006-2009 JOIDES Resolution refit, science as a percentage of the total budget was higher (32%) in 2003 (the final year of ODP) than in the later years of IODP (2003-2013) (14-18%). The science percentages estimated for FY2015-2019 (12-13%) are even lower than in previous years. These changes in the percentage of science relative to infrastructure support show a long-term trend of treating IODP more as a facility than as a science program,

Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

image

FIGURE 3-5 NSF funding for the JOIDES Resolution facility and for science during IODP (2003-2013) and IODP (2013-2018). For FY2003 and FY2009-2014, science funding includes individual grants from NSF, the U.S. Science Support Program, and a 2013 cooperative agreement with Scripps Institution of Oceanography for an IODP Support Office during the transition between programs. It does not include individual science grants related to IODP that originate from core programs. Data from FY2004-2008 are not included because the available information is a mix of program and facilities costs that were associated with an interim operating contract, the 2006-2009 JOIDES Resolution refit, and decreasing usage in 2004-2006. Values for FY2015-2019 are estimated budgets; the science estimate in future years does not include the grants moved to core programs in FY2015. (a) Values in current dollars. Data from NSF, January and July 2014. (b) Values in 2014 inflation-adjusted dollars.

with a shift of science activities mostly into the Marine Geology and Geophysics core program.

There was a major change in how international scientific ocean drilling was funded at the transition between ODP and IODP in 2003, which resulted in significantly higher total costs associated with operating multiple drilling platforms. IODP (2003-2013) was co-led by the United States and Japan, with substantial contributions from the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD) and the involvement of other countries. During this phase of the program, NSF operated the drillship JOIDES Resolution; the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) operated the Chikyu drillship; and ECORD leased mission-specific platforms depending on the type of operations needed. Management costs were shared.

The complexity of working with multiple partners, and an assumption of growth in the NSF and international science budgets that was not realized, led to funding shortfalls and delays in implementation. Given these shortfalls, both the JOIDES Resolution and Chikyu were kept in port for extended periods of time. Some high-priority science programs were deferred, even though substantial daily lease costs for the JOIDES Resolution continued. Program operations in this phase were also disrupted by a 3-year, $115 million refit of the JOIDES Resolution funded by NSF’s MREFC account, which was descoped due to budget overruns (Allen and Walters, 2009). During this hiatus, a portion of the program funds helped to retain essential staff that assisted with the refit process. Cost pressure during IODP (2003-2013), driven by complex management arrangements, rapidly increasing fuel costs, generally flat budgets, and decisions to invest in other programs, led to a need to decrease IODP operating costs and improve efficiency in the next phase.

In an effort to address budget reductions, IODP (2013-2018) initiated a new program model, in which each platform provider (NSF, ECORD, and MEXT) is now funding and managing its own infrastructure. As the primary funder of the U.S. platform JOIDES Resolution, NSF’s FY2015 contribution to operating costs is $47.9 million; this constitutes 74% of the ship’s total operating budget (Figure 3-5). Other countries will contribute an additional $16.5 million for FY2015 JOIDES Resolution operations (Brazil and China, $3 million each; Australia and New Zealand, $1.5 million combined; India and Korea, $1 million each; and ECORD, $7 million). Each country or consortium supports its own scientists and their research costs separately. All contributions are expected to remain steady (with inflationary increases) through FY2019 (Figure 3-5). The current JOIDES Resolution funding scenario supports approximately four expeditions per year (approximately 2 months per expedition, with 8 months of total operation), with about 6-10 high-priority proposals expected to be forwarded to the JOIDES Resolution Facility Board each year. Under that scenario, about half of the high-priority proposals would be supported.

An additional funding mechanism—Complementary Project Proposals (CPPs)—has been implemented, in which an interested country or private entity can provide extra funds on top of any continuing contribution for specific expeditions on the JOIDES Resolution beyond the nominal four expeditions per year funded by the consortium. CPPs are still vetted through the normal IODP (2013-2018) peer-review process. For example, in FY2014, China contributed $6 mil-

Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

lion for the South China Sea CPP, and in FY2015, India will contribute $6 million for the Arabian Sea CPP. In addition, the JOIDES Resolution is available for externally funded industry work during the 4 months per year that it is not used for academic research. For example, in FY2012-2013 industry provided an estimated $11 million of cost avoidance for NSF, including day rate avoidance and savings from fuel, insurance, and salary avoidance. Although some industry objectives were proprietary, the academic community was given access to the drill cores.

Alignment with the Science Priorities

Based on the committee’s analysis, scientific ocean drilling capabilities are critical to decadal science priorities related to the formation of ocean basins, characterization of geohazards, and attaining a better understanding of the global significance of the subseafloor ocean biosphere (Table 3-2). Ocean drilling, through its ability to explore past climate, is important for the decadal science priorities related to sea level rise and climate variability. Addressing these priorities requires long-term commitments to sampling the subseafloor and analysis and archiving of cores. Community input from the Virtual Town Hall was supportive of scientific ocean drilling as a valuable tool for the ocean sciences. Scientific ocean drilling has also proven to be an effective vehicle for science diplomacy, with its sustained focus on international partnerships.

Additional Comments

The total planned NSF contribution to the JOIDES Resolution facility over the next 5 years is estimated at $250 million (Figure 3-5), which provides ~$50 million annually for the four JOIDES Resolution expeditions and a number of berths on the other platforms. For 2015, there are berths for 32 U.S. scientists to sail on the JOIDES Resolution (8 per expedition), 16 berths on Chikyu, and 8 berths on ECORD’s mission-specific platform operations. MEXT and ECORD receive an equivalent annual number of berths on the JOIDES Resolution, and ECORD contributes $7 million/yr to JOIDES Resolution operations. However, when examining the FY2015 JOIDES Resolution funding as a proxy for cost allocations, NSF appears to pay significantly more for a U.S. scientist to sail annually than the IODP (2013-2018) contributor countries that do not manage their own infrastructure. The committee notes that Chikyu has no planned expeditions for 2015. Furthermore, the frequency of ECORD mission-specific platform operations, originally intended to average one per year according to the past two IODP science plans,6 has not been realized. In contrast to these optimistic plans, between 2004 and 2014 just five mission-specific platform operations occurred. None occurred in 2011, 2012, or 2014, and one is planned for late 2015.

Given the berth agreements, the reductions in missions by international partners, and the increasing fraction of NSF expenditures on IODP infrastructure relative to science, it is unclear if U.S. scientists have obtained the scientific benefits proportional to the program costs that were intended by the original international agreements. If three drilling platforms are maintained, the committee urges NSF to evaluate whether the subscription costs for international partners to sail on the JOIDES Resolution are appropriately priced. In addition, private entities or nations purchasing expeditions through the CPP mechanism appear to mainly be paying the incremental cost of operations instead of the full O&M and transit costs of the facility.

The committee recognizes that IODP and the drilling community have made significant efforts to address budget shortfalls. The development of mechanisms to enhance revenue through CPP and industry contracts provides welcome cost avoidance, but the need for those mechanisms and the lower-than-anticipated use of non-U.S. drilling platforms suggests that the international community is overextended in the area of scientific ocean drilling. It appears that the United States is shouldering an excessive burden for ocean drilling compared to other contributing countries. The committee urges NSF to strongly consider an alternative financial arrangement within IODP and/or a reduction in the number of platforms in the consortium, including the possibility of terminating the JOIDES Resolution if additional operating revenues cannot be found from non-NSF sources. However, the committee recognizes that the greatest proposal pressure within IODP is associated with use of the JOIDES Resolution, and its broad utility needs to be a driving force in these discussions.

In the context of a level budget, a successful strategy for IODP (2013-2018) might be to reduce the proportion of funding spent on infrastructure and to increase the proportion used for analysis of existing materials. A consideration of cost-effective ways to collect cores that are most relevant to high-priority science themes is needed. In particular, less costly approaches might be used to address some issues of climate and sea level variability on the subcentury scale, as well as to understand some of the processes occurring within the subseafloor biosphere.

OCEAN OBSERVATORIES INITIATIVE

Objectives and Budget

The objective of the OOI is to provide sustained measurements from the seafloor to the air-sea interface across specific sites in the coastal, regional, and global domains, with a planned 25-year operational life (OOI, 2007). OOI’s concept is that of a shared facility for use by the entire sci-

_________________

6 “One mission-specific platform (MSP) operation (two months average) per year is expected” (IODP-MI, 2011, p. 70) and “[w]e anticipate that mobilization of one mission-specific drilling platform per year will be standard operating procedure in IODP” (IODP, 2001, p. 74).

Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

image

FIGURE 3-6 NSF estimate of annual O&M costs for the global, coastal, and cabled observatory components of OOI, as well as administrative costs for scientists, engineering, and management. Data from NSF, December 2014.

image

FIGURE 3-7 NSF estimate of OOI annual O&M costs (also shown in Figure 3-6) of the individual components of the global mooring and coastal arrays. Data from NSF, December 2014.

ence community, which is a new model for providing access to ocean data. This concept began to take shape in the late 1990s and was refined through the next decade. An early vision of the ocean observatory initiative consisted of the cable-connected Northeast Pacific Time-Series Undersea Networked Experiments (NEPTUNE) array, spanning the Juan de Fuca plate and its boundaries with three neighboring plates, motivated by a need to understand plate-scale tectonic and volcanic processes. Beyond the clear geophysical and geologic value of this array, a compelling case was made that the power and bandwidth supplied by the seafloor cable could enable a wide variety of additional multidisciplinary sensors. Community outreach at meetings expanded the concept to include long-duration and coastal moorings that addressed a variety of scientific topics in geographic locations beyond NEPTUNE.

OOI construction was enabled by funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 through the MREFC account within NSF. Total construction costs are estimated at ~$386 million (written response from Jean McGovern, NSF, March 1, 2014). The 25-year O&M costs of OOI are to be supported by the OCE budget and are estimated to be capped at $55 million for FY2015, increasing by $1 million/yr through FY2019 (written response by Debbie Bronk, NSF, January 29, 2014). Estimated annual O&M costs by site are summarized in Figures 3-6 and 3-7. Administration costs of $11.1 million annually support 38 scientists, engineers, managers, and technicians (written response from Debbie Bronk, June 23, 2014). The project is currently in the construction and deployment phase and is expected to be operational by March 2015.

The $55 million to $59 million per year currently estimated by NSF to be allocated to OOI operations for FY20152019 is for O&M only and does not include any support for research projects proposed by the scientific community, or for sensors beyond the basic array. Research projects and any other equipment to be added to the array will compete within core science budgets or relevant initiatives through a peer-review process.

OOI Components

OOI has four major components (Figure 3-8): a cabled observatory, two coastal arrays, four global-scale high-latitude moorings, and cyberinfrastructure. Although NSF views OOI as a “networked ocean research observatory,” the committee noted that, although there are common specifications and sensors, the components are geographically separated and have distinct research functions. Therefore, this report examines the potential contributions of the major components (excluding cyberinfrastructure) for their expected alignment to the science priorities, rather than assessing the OOI as a single system. These are summarized in Table 3-2 and discussed in detail below.

Global Moorings

The global component is composed of assets deployed in four high-latitude sites: the Southern Ocean southwest of Chile (55°S, 90°W), the Irminger Sea southeast of Greenland (60°N, 39°W), the Argentine Basin in the South Atlantic (42°S, 42°W), and Station Papa in the North Pacific (50°N, 145°W). Each site has a local array composed of surface and subsurface moorings with sensors to measure air-sea fluxes, biochemical sensors, and acoustic Doppler current profilers; gliders to sample between the moorings at given sites; and telemetry for providing data in near real time. Vertical profiling moorings will allow adaptive sampling of episodic features.

Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

image

FIGURE 3-8 Location of OOI components. SOURCE: OOI Cabled Array program and the Center for Environmental Visualization, University of Washington.

Regional Cabled Observatory

The regional component is composed of a high-power, high-bandwidth fiber optic cable observatory on the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate, west of Newport, Oregon. There are three main study sites: Hydrate Ridge (methane seeps), Axial Seamount (active volcanism), and the Newport Line (moorings and gliders) connecting to the Endurance Array of the coastal component. Site sensors include mass spectrometers, seismometers, and temperature and chemical probes. In evaluating the alignment of the cabled observatory with science priorities, the Newport Line was included as part of the coastal component.

Coastal Arrays

The coastal component comprises the Pioneer Array, currently located south of Martha’s Vineyard in the Atlantic Ocean, and the Endurance Array off Oregon and Washington. The Pioneer Array is intended to study shelf-break frontal dynamics and impacts on ecosystem and climate for a 5-year period, after which the array O&M will be recompeted and could be moved elsewhere. The Endurance Array will support research on wind-driven cross-shelf transport and freshwater-driven transport in an eastern boundary current system across the Cascadia continental margin for the planned life of the project (25 years). Part of the array is connected to the regional cabled observatory, which will provide power and high-bandwidth data transfer; the other part of the Endurance Array—off Grays Harbor, Washington—is stand-alone. The two sites on the Endurance Array are connected by patrolling gliders. The Pioneer Array will have AUVs and seafloor-mounted docking stations for recharging and data transfer.

Cyberinfrastructure

The cyberinfrastructure component comprises a common operating infrastructure and database scheme for the other three components of the OOI, with the goals of supporting data management and making data freely available for educational and scientific pursuits.

Alignment to the Science Questions

The committee considered the priority questions in relation to the capabilities of the OOI components. Because the OOI infrastructure is yet to be fully deployed or operated (as of November 2014), the committee based its assessment on the most recent documentation of OOI science themes, which were outlined in the 2007 report Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) Scientific Objectives and Network Design: A Closer Look (OOI, 2007). The coastal arrays are important for the decadal science priorities related to sea level rise, coastal processes, and climate variability and impacts; the global moorings were also found to be important for climate variability. The regional cabled observatory is important for exploring the evolution of ocean basins, characterization of geohazards, and life in the subseafloor biosphere, although the committee notes that the final design of the cabled observatory is much reduced from the 2007 plan. As noted above, in evaluating the alignment of the cabled observatory with science priorities in Table 3-2, the Newport Line was included as part of the coastal component.

The global moorings are least well aligned to the decadal science priorities. For example, the committee noted that the high-latitude moorings of the global array do quite well in addressing air-sea interaction during extreme events, a long-standing issue for the improvement of climate models. However, the committee is unconvinced that 25 years of measurements will be required to address that topic. Observations collected over a 2- to 3-year time frame (or long enough to achieve a variety of conditions, including extreme events) would likely provide sufficient information to better characterize air-sea interactions for climate models.

In addition, the committee thought that fewer than four sites would be required, and that the Northern Hemisphere moorings were of more potential value in addressing the decadal science priorities. The Irminger Sea mooring has potential for European collaboration and is the site of documented deep water formation. It is likely to advance the goal of quantifying the energy and gas exchange between the surface and deep ocean, improving storm forecasting and climate change models. The Station Papa site has a long history

Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

of interdisciplinary studies. Given current cost constraints, the Northern Hemisphere sites also have the advantage of being somewhat less expensive to maintain.

Additional Comments

Assessing the value of infrastructure that is not fully operational was a difficult task for the committee. Without a track record or a significant user base, it is premature to make strong statements about potential success, failure, or the possibility for transformational research. OCE has not yet provided information to the scientific community on the process for combining the use of OOI assets with more traditional infrastructure (e.g., ship-based programs) to study ocean processes, or for adding instrumentation once the platforms are operational. In theory, access to freely available data from OOI could enable the development of lower-cost proposals that utilize these data, expanding the pool of scientists that will use the facility.

However, a review of comments from the Virtual Town Hall and additional discussions with both early-career and established scientists suggest a widespread lack of community support—OOI is an expensive project that appears to have limited appeal and is coming online at a time when budgets are highly constrained. The lack of community-wide support may be due to the MREFC process itself, which requires a final plan for construction and does not have a process for responding to input received from the community during implementation. The MREFC process also precluded adoption of a staged approach of testing, modification, and phased array deployment, which could have incorporated lessons learned and user feedback. The shift of OOI’s focus from a broad-based science project discussed at community meetings to a construction project (as stipulated by the MREFC process) appears to have limited community engagement and created an impression that the project lacked transparency.

The lack of broad community support has been exacerbated by an apparent lack of scientific oversight during the construction process. For example, the OOI Program Advisory Committee was established in 2008, but it appears to be inactive—there is no publicly available information on their website.7 UNOLS does have an Ocean Observing Science Committee that provided a number of recommendations to NSF regarding data management, deployment of infrastructure, and engagement with the broader ocean sciences community (OOSC, 2012).

Other models exist for the management of GEO MREFC projects that include greater community engagement and scientific oversight. For example, EarthScope, funded by NSF’s Division of Earth Science (also in the GEO Directorate), is a land-based observation system that uses geophysical instruments to explore the evolution of the North American continent. The construction phase included commercially available instruments, strong scientific oversight through annual reports from the EarthScope Facilities Executive Committee (members included the project director and representatives and principal investigators for the three facilities) and NSF program and project managers, and, perhaps most importantly, strong community engagement through EarthScope Project Advisory committees (EarthScope Facilities Executive Committee, 2006). These community-based advisory committees met at least twice per year and provided scientific and technical advice as the project developed. There was a formal process for considering change requests “that weighs scope, schedule, cost, risk, and gain against the project’s scientific objectives” (EarthScope Facilities Executive Committee, 2006). Furthermore, data were made available to the research community as instrumentation was installed, providing an opportunity for new scientific results even before the construction phase was complete. In the post-construction phase, NSF established an EarthScope National Office and an EarthScope Steering Committee to motivate broad community participation and develop a science plan. Funds were specifically set aside to support science, not just facility O&M; this included an NSF program officer to manage EarthScope science. The separate funding scheme recognized that observatory-related science is different from traditional science and was considered essential to the program’s success. Although the OOI construction phase is nearing completion, there is still an opportunity to apply lessons learned from projects such as EarthScope to help build support.

In addition, there do not appear to be many plans to engage international partners in OOI. Especially for the global moorings, this seems to be an area that is ripe for opportunities to collaborate and share costs. The committee also has concern that the O&M costs for OOI will exceed the cost ceiling designated by NSF. Ocean Networks Canada has dealt with the issue of anticipated maintenance and unanticipated failures by planning not only for annual costs of maintenance for instruments and other equipment but also for extraordinary maintenance investments to replace cables and nodes, and self-insurance to cover accidents on the system. NSF might consider this type of contingency planning for OOI, if it has not already. Finally, the committee notes that, as with the RCRVs, long-term planning and costing for OOI was initiated at a time when the overall costs of infrastructure were lower and budget outlooks were brighter.

However, it is encouraging that several new initiatives are planning process studies that leverage OOI infrastructure and data. These initiatives include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration–supported EXport Processes in the Ocean from RemoTe Sensing (EXPORTS Science Plan Writing Team, 2014) and a proposed Global Biogeochemical Flux Observatory (Honjo et al., 2014).

_________________

7 See http://oceanobservatories.org/about/ooi-program-management/program-advisory-committee/ (accessed October 2014).

Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

THE NATIONAL DEEP SUBMERGENCE FACILITY

Objectives and Background

The NDSF is a federally funded center that coordinates the use of the human-occupied vehicle (HOV) Alvin, the ROV Jason, and the AUV Sentry. It is operated and maintained by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). The UNOLS Deep Submergence Science Committee provides oversight in the use of NDSF vehicles and promotes technological innovations and increased capabilities for the vehicles. There are other unmanned vehicles (AUVs and gliders) that are supported by NSF but are funded individually or through other initiatives (e.g., gliders associated with OOI) and are not associated with NDSF.

Alvin

The U.S. Navy–owned Alvin8 has been in operation since 1964, with numerous cycles of technical upgrades to increase its capabilities over the decades. Alvin has a dedicated Global class tender, also U.S. Navy owned, the R/V Atlantis. Alvin use declined by approximately 20% between 1990-1999 and 2000-2009, although it still averaged about 200 dives per year in the last decade (NRC, 2011a).

In 2004, during a time of NSF budget growth, NSF awarded $22.9 million to WHOI to upgrade Alvin to enable it to operate at depths down to 6,500 m. After construction of a new, larger titanium personnel sphere, the revised cost estimates to complete the Alvin upgrade were significantly higher than the original amount budgeted. NSF decided to proceed with a staged approach to the remaining Alvin improvements and provided an additional $13 million. WHOI also provided an additional $5 million (personal communication, Brian Midson, December 30, 2014). Total cost of the overhaul was $40.9 million. Phase 1 upgrades included the new personnel sphere, additional viewports, better navigation, new syntactic foam, and hardware improvements, but not an overall increased depth capability. All of the hardware improvements made in Phase 1 are rated to 6,500 m. The A-frame on Atlantis was also upgraded. The Phase 1 upgrade began in 2011 and Alvin returned to full service in 2014. Its current depth certification is for 3,800 m, but it is expected to be certified for depths down to 4,500 m in January 2015.

The next stage of upgrading Alvin requires new batteries with increased capacity; a new battery system would need to be approved by the Naval Sea Systems Command, which certifies Alvin for use. In addition to batteries capable of supporting 6,500-m operations, implementation of a Phase 2 upgrade would be predicated on persistent science demand for humans to reach those depths and the availability of funds to support its upgrade, maintenance, and operation.

There are currently no other deep-diving U.S. manned submersibles in the oceanographic research community. Johnson Sea-Link I and II (914-m depth capability), owned by Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute-Florida Atlantic University, were taken out of service in 2011 due to lack of agency support. Pisces IV and V (2,000-m depth capability), owned by the University of Hawaii, were recently recertified but are not currently operating, also due to lack of agency support. Several other nations currently operate HOVs that reach at least 6,000 m,9 and there are also privately owned and operated research submersibles, most of which have shallower maximum depth capabilities.

Jason

The present-generation 6,500-m-depth Jason ROV has been in service since 2002 (the first-generation ROV was launched in 1988). It is equipped to collect samples, take imagery, and navigate the seafloor, with dives lasting up to about a week (although typically 1-2 days). Jason is deployed with Medea, which provides tether management and decouples the motion of the ROV from its surface ship. Jason can be deployed from Ocean or Global class vessels. Following the general trend of increased ROV use, Jason dives increased threefold between 1990-1999 and 2000-2009 (NRC, 2011a). Since 2011, there has been consistently high demand and use of Jason (approximately 170 days/year; NSF Committee of Visitors, 2014).

Jason is one of several large, capable ROVs available for use in the oceanographic community, but it is the only one associated with and subsidized by the NDSF. There are similar ROVs funded by NOAA, other countries, private institutions, and industry.10

Sentry

Sentry is a 2.9-m-long AUV that is capable of carrying a sensor suite that can operate in the water column or near the seabed. As Sentry is a smaller platform than Jason and does not require dynamic positioning, it can be used on a broad range of UNOLS vessels. It is one of many types of autonomous vehicles that are now currently operating in more than 1-km-depth water (see Chapter 2 for a description of other autonomous vehicles; also see NRC [2011a] for more discussion of AUVs). Sentry became an NDSF asset in 2010,

_________________

8 See http://www.whoi.edu/main/hov-alvin.

9 These are Nautile (6,000 m; France), Mir 1 and 2 (6,000 m; Russia), Shinkai (6,500 m; Japan), and Jiaolong (7,000 m; China).

10 These include Deep Discoverer (6,000 m), operated by NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research; Kaiko 7000II (7,000 m) and Hyper Dolphin (3,000 m), operated by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology; ISIS (6,000 m), operated by the National Oceanography Centre and owned by the United Kingdom’s Natural Environment Research Council; ROPOS (5,000 m), operated by the Canadian Scientific Submersible Facility; Doc Ricketts (4,000 m), Ventana (1,850 m), and the high-latitude miniROV (1,500 m) operated by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute; and Global Explorer (3,000 m), operated by Deep Sea Systems Inc.

Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

after the loss of the AUV ABE, which had also been operated as part of NDSF. AUVs with similar depths and capabilities are operated by many other U.S. and international research groups.11 Similar vehicles are also available from commercial vendors12 and are extensively used by the oil and gas and submarine cable industries and for military applications.

Budget and Organization

NSF is the primary NDSF sponsor (providing $7.3 million in FY2014), although the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and NOAA contribute to operational costs. NDSF funding provides support for vehicle operation, maintenance, and routine upgrades and maintains a staff of experienced employees. The 2014 provisional day rates for the vehicles are $16,000 for Alvin, $23,000 for Jason, and $14,000 for Sentry.13 Operations and maintenance are continual for Jason and Sentry, with costs that are included in the vehicle day rates. Alvin’s periodic overhauls have previously been split between NSF, ONR, and NOAA, but in the future they will be amortized and included in the day rate (written response from Brian Midson, NSF, December 31, 2014).

An advantage of the NDSF facility structure is that it enables diverse groups of scientists to have access to, and OCE funding for, NDSF assets, using a formal request process. In much the same way that UNOLS ship time is not included as an expense in NSF proposals, scientists requesting use of NDSF vehicles do not have to include vehicle operations expenses in their proposal budgets. This is an incentive for use of the NDSF vehicles and, conversely, a disincentive for use of other, non-NDSF deep submergence assets that have to be included in NSF science program budgets.

Alignment with the Science Priorities

Unlike the other categories of infrastructure, the committee considered the broader categories of underwater vehicles, not just NDSF assets, when evaluating their alignment to the decadal science priorities (Table 3-2). Although the committee recognizes the value of HOVs to conduct real-time observations and sampling, manned vehicles are limited in their alignment to the decadal science priorities. HOVs are important for studying the subseafloor ocean environment, marine food webs, and biodiversity and marine ecosystems, but Alvin is not critical to any priority (Table 3-2). This is due to the greatly increased capabilities and availability of ROVs, AUVs, and gliders, most of which are not associated with, or subsidized through, the NDSF.

Unmanned vehicles (ROVs, AUVs, and gliders) are important to almost all decadal science priorities, demonstrating a broad utility across many scientific disciplines. Unmanned vehicles continue to play a major role in providing detailed observations and enabling precise sampling, manipulative experiments, and installation of scientific equipment on the seafloor. ROVs are important for studying the formation of ocean basins and for geohazards, and critical for understanding the subseafloor environment. AUVs are important for studying coastal oceans, biodiversity, marine food webs, and ocean basins. Gliders are important for addressing questions related to sea level change, the coastal ocean environment, climate variability, and biodiversity.

Additional Comments

There has been increased interest in using NDSF assets outside their normal environments, including use in higher latitudes, under ice, and in littoral zones (presentation by Peter Girguis, December 6, 2013). This expansion in operating capability could currently be limited by the geographic restrictions that occur due to scheduling. Because NDSF assets are scheduled like UNOLS vessels, there is a need to maximize operational days while minimizing days in transit, which can lead to geographic restrictions related to scheduling and use of the NDSF vehicles.

There is concern about the importance of and costs associated with Alvin, including its need to use Atlantis as a dedicated tender at a time when more general-purpose Global class ships are needed. Another consideration is the planned Phase 2 upgrade to increase Alvin’s depth capability to 6,500 m, which needs to be framed in the context of both its alignment to the decadal science priorities and overall OCE infrastructure costs.

In addition, an increasing number of research ROVs, AUVs, and gliders are operated by private foundations, industry, and other federal agencies. Commercial vendors provide a variety of systems, and although the primary commercial market is focused on military and oil industry applications, use within the academic oceanographic community is expanding rapidly. The most capable, efficient, and economical platforms for the decadal science priorities may not be NDSF assets, and the NDSF model may need to be reevaluated to broaden its scope. Instead of three vehicles that are expensive to operate and maintain, a mix of unique platforms and smaller, less expensive assets may be a possibility for the future. The 2004 NRC study Future Needs in Deep Submergence Science identified a similar concern and stated, “It is apparent that realizing the vision of deep ocean research . . . will require access to a broader mix of

_________________

11 These include WHOI (e.g., Nereid, SeaBED), MBARI (mapping AUV), National Oceanographic Center (Autosub), Australian Centre for Field Robotics (SeaBed), and Explorer class AUVs provided by International Submarine Engineering at University of Bremen, Memorial University of Newfoundland, National Resources Canada, and University of Southern Mississippi.

12 These include Bluefin Robotic, Hydroid, Kongsberg Maritime, Daewoo, Boeing, ECA SA, Saab, and L’Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer (data from http://auvac.org/explore-database/advanced-search/results_purpose).

13 Final rates may be slightly lower for Alvin and Jason due to increased actual days of operation, whereas Sentry’s final rate may be slightly higher due to decreased actual days.

Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

more capable vehicles than are currently available through the NDSF.”

The 2014 NSF Committee of Visitors recommended a center of excellence or pool be established for the use of gliders and small AUVs. A common pool approach toward O&M for both NDSF and non-NDSF unmanned vehicles (including skilled technical support) could deliver increased value and utilization for NSF-supported infrastructure and could also provide opportunities to include other agencies in pooling equipment and sharing costs.

OTHER FACILITIES AND INFRASTRUCTURE

Field Stations and Marine Laboratories

Marine field stations and laboratories14 provide access to a range of environments, including coral reefs, estuaries, kelp forests, marshes, mangroves, and urban coastlines. Often affiliated with universities, marine field laboratories are valuable research platforms that support faculty research and graduate and undergraduate learning and provide opportunities for educational outreach focused on immersive learning (NRC, 2014). Many marine laboratories support long-term observational studies that provide vital baseline data for understanding natural systems, such as natural variations and human impacts on ecosystem processes, and enable comparative studies that provide broad insights into ecological processes.

Field stations and marine laboratories play a vital role in the decadal science priority themes. They are critical or important for several of the questions, including studies of coastal food webs, ecosystem biodiversity, and human impacts on coastal environments. NSF support of field stations and marine laboratories has provided much-needed infrastructure and capital improvements that have enhanced the quality of scientific research and engagement with the public. Recent efforts by NSF to promote networking and data sharing among field laboratories will provide further opportunities for research and education.

Ocean Bottom Seismograph Instrument Pool

The Ocean Bottom Seismograph Instrument Pool (OBSIP) is the largest of the smaller facilities supported through core science funding (Table 3-1) and is included in Table 3-2 as an example of these smaller facilities. Typically, these facilities provide necessary capabilities for particular disciplines and undergo regular review within the core programs. OBSIP supplies and services instruments for long-term deployments (approximately 1 year), recording waveforms from globally distributed earthquakes and local seismicity, as well as for short-term deployments in conjunction with active source surveys using Langseth or other ships. OBSIP is a resource used both by marine seismologists and by land-based seismologists that are interested in deep Earth structure beneath the oceans and in earthquake hazards. As shown in Table 3-2, ocean bottom seismometers are important to understand the formation and evolution of ocean basins, and are critical for characterizing geohazards.

COST VERSUS RELEVANCE FOR NSF-SUPPORTED INFRASTRUCTURE

This chapter evaluated the alignment of current NSF-supported ocean research infrastructure to the eight priority decadal science questions, with high-relevance infrastructure labeled as critical or important to achieving the science priorities. In addition, the costs of operating each of those infrastructure assets have been presented. These two dimensions—relevance and cost—need to be looked at simultaneously, as both are significant for strategic planning and decision making.

Table 3-2 can be surveyed along each row to suggest an overall impact for each infrastructure asset across the eight questions. Every infrastructure component is supportive to at least one question; no asset is without relevance. Each piece of infrastructure can then be looked at in terms of its relative cost to operate and maintain. Figure 3-9 presents a

image

FIGURE 3-9 Conceptual diagram of relative operation and maintenance costs versus relevance of infrastructure assets presented in Table 3-2. The academic research fleet is clustered into one category. The asterisk (*) for manned vehicles and ROVs indicates that inclusion of necessary support vessels would increase costs. Each category is color-coded as in Table 3-2.

_________________

14 See www.naml.org for more information about marine laboratories.

Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×

conceptual diagram of relevance versus costs for each of the infrastructure assets presented in Table 3-2.

From this figure, the infrastructure can be roughly divided into quadrants. In a budget-constrained environment, higher-relevance assets can justify higher costs; lower-relevance, lower-cost infrastructure is also acceptable. Infrastructure assets that are higher cost but of lower relevance are of the greatest concern and are candidates for lowering their costs or refocusing their efforts to be of greater relevance for the decadal science priorities. The dimensions of cost and relevance are further explored in the next chapter, as part of the context for OCE’s future strategic planning and budgeting decisions.

REFERENCES

Allen, J. and J. Walter. 2009. SODV and IODP: Successful operations after a difficult rebuild. Presentation to Project Science 9th workshop, October 18-22, 2009. Sante Fe, NM. Available, http://131.215.239.80/workshop9/allan.pdf.

EarthScope Facilities Executive Committee. 2006. EarthScope Project 2005-2006 Annual Review. 152 pp. Available, http://www.earthscope.org/information/publications/reports/.

EXPORTS Science Plan Writing Team. 2014. EXport Processes in the Ocean from RemoTe Sensing (EXPORTS): A Science Plan for a NASA Field Campaign. Science plan, 104 pp. Available, http://cce.nasa.gov/cce/ocean_exports_intro.htm.

FOFC (Federal Oceanographic Facilities Committee). 2001. Charting the Future for the National Academic Research Fleet: A Long Range Plan for Renewal. Available, http://www.nopp.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/National-Academic-Research-Fleet.pdf.

Honjo, S., T.I. Eglinton, C.D. Taylor, K.M. Ulmer, S.M. Sievert, A. Bracher, C.R. German, V. Edgcomb, R. Francois, M.D. Iglesias-Rodriguez, B. van Mooy, and D.J. Repeta. 2014. Understanding the role of the biological pump in the global carbon cycle: An imperative for ocean science. Oceanography 27(3): 10-16.

Houtman, B. 2014. Number of Regional Class Research Vessels (RCRV). [Memorandum to Dr. Clare Reimers (UNOLS), March 11, 2014]. National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA.

IODP (Integrated Ocean Drilling Program). 2001. Earth, Oceans, and Life: Scientific Investigations of the Earth System Using Multiple Drilling Platforms and New Technologies, Initial Science Plan 2003-2013. IODP, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX.

IODP-MI (Management International). 2011. Illuminating Earth’s Past, Present, and Future: The International Ocean Discovery Program Science Plan for 2013-2023. IODP-MI, Washington, DC.

Malakoff, D. 2005. Grim forecast for a fading fleet. Science 307(5708): 338-340. DOI: 10.1126/science.307.5708.338.

Mervis, J. 1996. Oceanography: A fleet too good to afford? Science 271(5255): 1486-1488. DOI: 10.1126/science.271.5255.1486.

NRC (National Research Council). 2004. Future Needs in Deep Submergence Science. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC. Available, http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=10854.

NRC. 2009. Science at Sea: Meeting Future Oceanographic Goals with a Robust Academic Research Fleet. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC. Available, http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12775.

NRC. 2011a. Critical Infrastructure for Ocean Research and Societal Needs in 2030. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC. Available, http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13081.

NRC. 2011b. Scientific Ocean Drilling: Accomplishments and Challenges. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC. Available, http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13232.

NRC. 2014. Enhancing the Value and Sustainability of Field Stations and Marine Laboratories in the 21st Century. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC. Available, http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=18806.

NSF (National Science Foundation). 2014. Regional Class Research Vessel (RCRV): RVOC-April 2014. [PowerPoint Slides, PDF document]. Available, http://www.unols.org/sites/default/files/201404rvoap27.pdf.

NSF Committee of Visitors for the Oceanographic Centers, Facilities, and Equipment Programs of the Integrative Programs Section. 2014. 2014 Committee of Visitor’s Report on the Integrative Programs Section of the Ocean Sciences Division of the Geoscience Directorate. NSF, Alexandria, VA.

OOI (Ocean Observatories Initiative). 2007. Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) Scientific Objectives and Network Design: A Closer Look. Available, http://oceanleadership.org/files/Science_Prospectus_2007-10-10_lowres_0.pdf.

OOSC (Ocean Observing Science Committee). OOSC Recommendations May 16, 2012. [PowerPoint Slides, PDF document]. Available, http://www.unols.org/sites/default/files/201205oosap04.pdf.

UNOLS (University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System) Fleet Improvement Committee. 2003. Regional Class Science Mission Requirements. UNOLS, Narragansett, RI. Available, http://www.unols.org/sites/default/files/rcsmr_version1_0.pdf.

Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page39
Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page40
Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page41
Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page42
Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page43
Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page44
Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page45
Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page46
Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page47
Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page48
Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page49
Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page50
Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page51
Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page52
Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page53
Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page54
Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page55
Suggested Citation:"3 The Current Landscape: Alignment of Current Ocean Research Infrastructure with the Decadal Science Priorities." National Research Council. 2015. Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21655.
×
Page56
Next: 4 The Path Forward: Maintaining Ocean Science in a Constrained Budget Environment »
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!