A Chronology of the Early Development of Ocean Sciences at NSF
Michael R. Reeve
Division of Ocean Sciences, National Science Foundation
The historical time line below is intended to trace the emergence and development of ocean sciences within the National Science Foundation (NSF). It focuses specifically on the years up to the time that the Ocean Drilling Program was established in the Division of Ocean Sciences. Since then (1984), the division has remained virtually unchanged up to the time of writing. This account touches on other organizational structures and events to provide a context for the emerging story, and provides the context that links the various contributions in this volume. I have used the resources cited in the next paragraph, internal memoranda available to me and now deposited in the National Archives, and personal recollections of colleagues such as those contributed in this volume. (See also ocean science budgets in Appendix E and organizational charts in Appendix F.)
There are several general histories that speak to the events leading up to the establishment of the Foundation and its early years. Science —The Endless Frontier by Vannevar Bush was a report to President Roosevelt in 1945 (Bush, 1945). It was reprinted by NSF in 1990 (NSF 90-8) in a volume that also contained appendices and an extensive commentary by Daniel Kevles (California Institute of Technology) concerning the impact of the report. J. Merton England (the NSF historian in 1982), wrote a volume entitled A Patron for Pure Science—The National Science Foundation's Formative Years, 1945-1957 (NSF 82-24). Finally, George T. Mazuzan (NSF historian from 1987 until his retirement in 1998) wrote The National Science Foundation: A Brief History (NSF 88-16).
Also invaluable was NSF Handbook Number 1, titled Organizational Development of the National Science Foundation. It covers the period from the Foundation's establishment in 1950 up to 1984. It is an annual compilation of organization charts, together with a summary of ''organizational development," which includes organizational changes, significant legislation and executive orders, and National Science Board actions. A copy of this document currently resides in the NSF library.
IN THE BEGINNING
1950—President Truman signed the National Science Foundation Act on May 10, 1950. The Act provided that the Foundation shall consist of a director responsible for administration and a National Science Board to establish substantive policy and approve certain specified actions. Both the director and the board were to be appointed by the President. Beyond this, the act specified structure to the extent of four divisions: (1) Medical Research; (2) Mathematical, Physical, and Engineering Sciences; (3) Biological Sciences; and (4) Scientific Personnel and Education. The Act also specified the establishment of divisional committees to make recommendations to, and advise and consult with, the board and the director on matters relating to programs of their own divisions. The President appointed 24 board members and convened the first meeting at the White House on December 2, 1950.
1951—At its second meeting on January 3, 1951, the board established the four prescribed divisions. On April 6, the President appointed Alan T. Waterman as the first and only director to serve two consecutive full terms, each of six years. Waterman was formerly Chief Scientist at the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Assistant directors were appointed to three of the divisions. The appointee for the Biological Sciences Division also acted for the Medical Research Division, until the two divisions were combined a few months later.
The first four programs were established in each of the Divisions of Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences (MPES) and Biological and Medical Sciences (BMS). The board also appointed divisional committees.
1952—NSF made its first awards in this year. Among some 100 awards, two could be identified as ocean related. These included a one-year grant of $4,700 to Dr. Robert Ginsberg at the University of Miami for studies on the "Geological Role of Certain Blue-Green Algae." Dr. Ginsberg is still an active faculty member at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences of the University of Miami and still submits proposals to NSF. He also graced the assembly with his presence at this symposium.
1953—The Earth Sciences Program was established within the MPES. This was to be the ancestral home of all the nonbiological ocean sciences (chemistry, physics, geology and geophysics). Support for biological oceanography can be traced to multiple origins, spreading across all the BMS programs, although most predominantly from the Developmental, Environmental and Systematic Biology Program. The Foundation made about 5 awards related to ocean sciences out of a total of about 175.
The original NSF Act of 1950 contained a limitation of $15 million that could be appropriated annually to the NSF. This budgetary limit was removed by amendment of the original act on August 8, 1953. This was a very important change as reflected by the fact that the fiscal year 1999 budget stands at $3.7 billion, and the budget for the Ocean Sciences Division alone is now $215 million.
THE BEGINNINGS OF BIG OCEANOGRAPHY
The National Academy of Sciences asked NSF to seek funds for and administer the U.S. component of the ICSU (International Council of Scientific Unions) International Geophysical Year (IGY) program.
1955—NSF took up the IGY challenge and was appropriated $2 million for fiscal year 1955. The Office for the International Geophysical Year was established within the Office of the Director, in response to the provision of funds by Congress for this first major interdisciplinary program that NSF was entrusted to administer.
1957—The NSF appropriation grew to $37 million in fiscal year 1956, much of which was not expended until fiscal year 1957. In that fiscal year, some $15 million was expended for IGY, compared to a total of about $20 million for all other research projects and facilities support. In oceanography-related fields, NSF awarded about $1.25 million to several programs, which included the Deep Current Program, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans ($786,000), Pacific and Atlantic Ocean Island Observatories ($223,000), CO2 Analysis and Radiochemistry of Sea Water ($174,000), and Arctic Oceanography and Sea Ice ($51,000). By comparison, the Earth Science Program, which was responsible for funding nearly all of nonbiological oceanography, expended about $165,000, mostly on ocean-related geology and geophysics, as estimated by reading grant titles from the fiscal year 1957 annual report. A further $331,000 in IGY funds in oceanography would be awarded in fiscal year 1958.
Beyond the Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Oceanography (NASCO) was established to formulate recommendations concerning long-range national policy for the development of oceanography, to encourage basic research in the marine sciences, and to provide advice to government agencies on various oceanographic problems. The evolution of this important committee over the subsequent 42 years can be followed up to the present-day Ocean Studies Board, which organized and hosted the symposium that forms the basis of the present volume.
On May 1, 1957, NSF reported back to Congress, as requested, regarding the desirability of constructing and equipping a geophysical institute in the Territory of Hawaii. The report was positive but carried the provision that Congress should appropriate the full cost rather than it being a part of the Foundation's regular budget.
1958—On August 4, 1958, the Office of IGY was redesignated as the Office of Special International Programs and established the U.S. Antarctic Research Program. This office eventually evolved into the Office of Polar Programs, a separate NSF entity that would also begin to fund oceanography, often in joint ventures with the Ocean Sciences Division (formed in 1975) up to the present time.
1959—Beyond NSF, but within the federal government, the Interagency Committee on Oceanography (ICO) was set up by the newly formed Federal Council for Science and Technology, as the first attempt to recognize this fledgling scientific discipline, aspects of which were on the agendas of several agencies at the time. The ICO was charged to develop a National Oceanographic Program, which included reviewing activities and plans of individual agencies, coordinating budget planning, and considerations of special problems important in advancing oceanography. The initial goals of the ICO were to introduce, as fast as possible, more ships, facilities, and manpower. This goal was, in the words of Harve Carlson, NSF division director of Biological and Medical Sciences and ICO chairman in 1965, "impressively met." The National Academy of Sciences published the NASCO report Oceanography 1960-1970 (NAS, 1959).
THE ERA OF RAPID EVOLUTION
Within the Division of Biological and Medical Sciences, a Biological Facilities Program was established in 1959. This program was to be very influential in the subsequent development of biological oceanography, marine biology, and the beginning of the academic fleet. This history is addressed by Mary Johrde in her contribution to this volume.
1961—November 8, 1961, may be identified as the first beginnings of the future integration of NSF programs relating to the oceans. A memo to files by Harve Carlson, director of BMS, reported on a meeting "to bring about better communication between interested divisions and offices within the Foundation in reference to oceanography." The attendees identified a list of discussion items for future meetings, which included drawing up a 10-year "program for oceanography," providing regular input to NSF representatives on the ICO (i.e., the associate director for research with Carlson as alternate), and issues relating to ICO and NASCO.
A second meeting was held on December 29, 1961, and a twice-monthly meeting schedule was set up through April 1963. New issues not mentioned at the previous meeting included coordination of the planned International Indian Ocean Expedition, the question of who makes international commitments involving universities (ICO, NSF, or State Department), anticipation of congressional problems (the Magnuson Act and other oceanography-related bills), and ships and ship titles. A bill had been passed directing the establishment of a position of assistant director for oceanography in the White House Office of Science and Technology, but it was vetoed by President Kennedy.
1962—In March 1962, a contractor was selected for Phase 2 of Project Mohole (Deep Crustal Studies of the Earth), and the position of NSF managing coordinator for Project Mohole was selected, reporting to the Associate Director for Administration. On May 4 the Foundation's Mohole Committee was established. Initially funded at $1.65 million, the project was expected to "require between 3 and 5 years to complete." The detailed story of this and subsequent programs of deep seafloor drilling is told by Edward Winterer in this volume.
On March 27 the NSF produced an internal report entitled "10-Year Projection of National Science Foundation Plans to Support Basic Research in Oceanography." The projection of plans was made "without regard to possible budgetary restrictions," but was "meant to convey some notion of the magnitude of effort required . . . ." There were four sections with budgets rising from 1962 to 1971 in Physical Oceanography, Biological Oceanography, Antarctic Program, and the International Activities. Table 1 includes research, facilities, and ''all other aspects of oceanography." Physical oceanography was defined to include "all physical, chemical and geological phenomena."
NSF Ten-Year Budget Projections (million dollars)
NOTE: See Appendix E for actual budget figures.
SOURCE: NSF (1962a).
The budget numbers for fiscal year 1962 are realistic since they are not out-year projections or based on wishful thinking, but they are approximate, since grants were included under "biological oceanography" at the judgment of program managers of several different programs.
The year 1962 saw the initiation of the second large-scale ocean-related program following on from IGY. It was the International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE). Conceived in 1958 within ICSU, it was based on the premise (NSF, 1962b) that the Indian Ocean was the least understood ocean, biologically and physically, but there were indications that it might have a biological productivity higher than either the Atlantic or the Pacific Oceans. This was contrasted to the fact that "many inhabitants of the surrounding region suffer from severe dietary protein deficiency." Also, the seasonal reversal of monsoon winds made it a "huge natural laboratory for observing the effects of wind stress on oceanic currents." The NSF budgets for fiscal years 1962 and 1963 for IIOE were $2.1 million and $4.4 million, respectively. By comparison with the numbers in Table 1, it is clear that these funds represented a very significant infusion of new support for oceanography.
On April 13, 1962, NSF Director Alan Waterman signed directive O/D-102, which officially established the NSF Coordinating Group on Oceanography (CGO). "In addition to its general responsibilities," it was specifically tasked with coordination of oceanographic facilities; conversion, construction, and operation of ships; and the International Indian Ocean Expedition.
Within two months, Randal Robertson, the Associate Director for Research and chairman of CGO, established an Ad Hoc Panel on Grants and Contracts for Ship Construction, Conversion and Operations, whose initial assignment was to assemble existing agreements and background information, and recommend a set of procedures to be adopted.
The Division of Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences redesignated its program areas as "sections" on October 29, 1962. The Earth Sciences Program Office became the Earth Sciences Section, and four programs were established: Oceanography, Geophysics, Geology, and Geochemistry.
Beyond NSF, NASCO now decided to prepare a report giving the best estimates of the possible actual worth to this country from the planned National Oceanographic Program, particularly an expanded research effort.
1963—In two meetings of the CGO (January 25 and March 27, 1963), committee members wrestled with definitions of "oceanography" and "oceanographic manpower." It was noted that only in MPES was there a single program, and hence a "line item," for the support of all oceanography. Various programs of BMS supported marine-related biol
ogy, and here the problem of definition was acute. Also, support came from the Division of Scientific Personnel and from the Offices of International Activities and the Antarctic Program. The NSF budget for oceanography was estimated by the committee to be $11.86 million for research, $7.3 million for shore facilities, $3.5 million for ships, $4.0 million for the International Indian Ocean Expedition and $0.14 million for a data center, totaling $26.80 million.
To determine manpower, the NSF asked the International Oceanographic Foundation (Miami) and a working group guided by Joel Hedgepeth, Walton Smith, Donald Pritchard, and Fritz Koczy for assistance. They agreed that the International Register, which contained some 5,000 oceanographers, was an unrealistically high estimate.
Athelstan Spilhaus, chairman of NASCO, proposed to the annual meeting of the American Fisheries Society the creation of Sea Grant Colleges analogous to Land Grant Colleges.
1965—Regular meetings of the CGO had lapsed. On June 9, 1965, Harve Carlson made a request to the Associate Director for Research that "we again set up regular meetings of the Coordinating Group on Oceanography." He reasoned that as the NSF member of the ICO, he was being asked for increasing amounts of data and for policy decisions regarding the role of NSF in interagency ocean issues (e.g., should Mohole and the "long core vessel" be included in the ICO budget?). Carlson noted that "with our buildup in oceanography, a rather major responsibility has grown over the last three to five years." The associate director responded affirmatively, naming Carlson his vice-chair.
On November 19 the Division of Environmental Sciences was established. It was formed to contain the Office of Antarctic Programs, Atmospheric Sciences Section, and Earth Sciences Section, both from MPES.
1966—President Johnson signed a bill into law that created what was to become known as the Stratton Commission, after its chairman Julius Stratton. The purpose of the temporary council and commission was to study the national oceanography program and propose revisions.
Meanwhile, in July 1966, the President's Science Advisory Committee (PSAC), chaired by Gordon MacDonald, issued "what may well be the single most influential design for reorganizing the oceanography program (Science, July 22, 1966) Effective Use of the Sea (PSAC, 1966). It called for the establishment of a new oceanography agency, but did not seek to put either NSF or ONR research into it. It downplayed an Academy report Economic Benefits of Oceanographic Research (NAS, 1964) that had apparently grossly exaggerated the economic benefits of a national oceanographic program.
The NSF Coordinating Group on Oceanography met on August 8, 1966, and Randall Robertson (its chair) reported that the director had asked him to establish a task force to analyze the PSAC report. The major topics of discussion were the concepts of a new oceanography agency (referred to here as a "wet NASA" [National Aeronautics and Space Administration]) and the regional fleet. The former was deemed "not appropriate at the present time" but the latter was looked on with favor.
By August 24 the ill-fated Project Mohole was halted as necessitated by congressional denial of funds, and the office was officially closed on December 31, 1966.
The National Sea Grant College Program Act was signed into law on October 15, and the Office of Sea Grant Programs was established as an organizational component of NSF reporting to the Associate Director for Research.
1967—On June 8, 1967, NSF issued an important notice announcing it was ready to receive Sea Grant proposals. NSF announced the first Sea Grant awards—nine grants totaling nearly $2 million—on February 21, 1968.
THE EMERGENCE OF THE DIVISION OF OCEAN SCIENCES
In March 1967, the Oceanography Program was raised to the section level within the Division of Environmental Sciences with the Physical Oceanography Program, Submarine Geology and Geophysics Program, and Oceanographic Facilities Program managed by Mary Johrde (see her contribution in this volume). Thus can be identified a recognizable cluster of programs (although without biology) out of which the modem Division of Ocean Sciences evolved.
1969—A further step was taken toward the evolution of the Division of Ocean Sciences when the Biological Oceanography Program was added as a new unit within the Environmental and Systematic Biology Section (Biological and Medical Sciences Division), which also included the Environmental Biology and Systematic Biology Programs.
The NSF Director, as a member of the Marine Council, responded in March to the Vice President's request for input on the Stratton Commission report. The director's message contained many cautions on the establishment of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), advising that it required further study. He was unenthusiastic about the transfer of Sea Grant to such a new agency.
In April, Edward Todd (NSF Deputy Associate Director for Research) reported on a briefing by ONR for NSF staff on the "oceanographic ships problem." Fee nan Jennings (this volume) represented ONR. They agreed to a further meeting to discuss the division of ship operation support between NSF and ONR, the impact on operational costs of the addition of large AGOR-class oceanographic vessels to the fleet by ONR, unilateral planning by each agency for fleet replacements or additions, and the recommendations of the Marine Science Commission with respect to "University-National Laboratories" and regional fleets.
On October 27, 1969, William McElroy, who had become the third NSF director in July, effected a major reorganization of NSF based on provisions of the National Science Foundation Act of 1968. Four assistant directorships were established for Research, Education, Institutional Programs, and National and International Programs. The Office of Assistant Director for Research had five Divisions reporting to it (Biological and Medical Sciences; Engineering; Social Sciences; Environmental Sciences; Mathematical and Physical Sciences) and also included the Office of Interdisciplinary Research.
Oceanography (except biological oceanography) remained in the Environmental Sciences Division, but there were several marine-related elements in the Office of the Assistant Director for National and International Programs. These included the Sea Grant Program, Antarctic Programs, Computing Activities, Science Information Service, International Programs, and National Centers and Facilities Operations. The last was responsible for the Ocean Sediment Coring Program, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), and the astronomical observatories. The Office of Polar Programs (OPP) and Office of the International Decade of Ocean Exploration (IDOE) were added on December 19, 1969, and March 21, 1970, respectively, following a letter from the Vice-President, which confirmed NSF as lead agency for IDOE and for the extension of Arctic research. The IDOE was the third major influx of funds that supported ocean sciences at NSF (after IGY and IIOE). The history of IDOE is covered by Feenan Jennings in this volume.
1970—The Biological Oceanography Program did not remain long in the Division of Biological and Medical Sciences. It was transferred into the Oceanography Section in the Division of Environmental Sciences on July 24, 1970. The brief tenure of Sea Grant at NSF ended when the Office of Sea Grant Programs was transferred to NOAA on October 3.
On October 1, responsibility for oceanographic ship operation support was transferred from the Research Directorate to the National and International Programs Directorate to provide initial program development in support of the National Oceanographic Laboratory System concept.
1971—The position of project officer for the National Oceanographic Laboratory System (NOLS) was established, and the Office for Oceanographic Facilities and Support was established to implement management support for the NOLS concept on March 30, 1971. The history of events relating to ship operations may be found in the contributions of Johrde, Toye, and Byrne in this volume.
IDOE was organized into four programs. These were Environmental Quality, Environmental Forecasting, Seabed Assessment Program, and Living Resources. The Ocean Sediment Coring Program was located within National Centers and Facilities Operations.
1974—On July 1 (the first day of fiscal year 1975), the Marine Chemistry Program was established in the Oceanography Section. This completed the four subdisciplinary science structure that has remained stable through fiscal year 1999.
1975—On July 10, 1975, NSF underwent a major reorganization into seven directorates, including the Directorate for Astronomical, Earth and Ocean Sciences (AAEO). Many sections became divisions, including those in this directorate. The Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE) was formed. The Offices of IDOE and Oceanographic Facilities and Support moved into OCE from the Office of National Centers and Facilities Operations (NCFO), and the Ocean Sediment Coring Program moved from NCFO to the Division of Earth Sciences.
Atmospheric Sciences was added to the directorate on September 30 to create AAEO, together with OPP. The Division of Ocean Sciences consisted of the Oceanography Section, the Office for Oceanographic Facilities and Support, and the Office for the IDOE.
1976—On April 19, 1976, the Marine Science Affairs Program was established within IDOE, and the Office of Polar Programs was redesignated as a division.
1978—The Office of the IDOE was redesignated the IDOE Section on March 8, 1978, with five programs (Environmental Forecasting, Environmental Quality, Living Resources, Marine Science Affairs, and Seabed Assessment).
1979—The Office of Oceanographic Facilities and Support was restructured into (1) the Office of the Head, Oceanographic Facilities and Support; (2) the Acquisition and Maintenance Program; and (3) the Operations Program.
1980—The 10-year mandated period for IDOE officially ended. Unlike the IGY and IIOE, however, the funds, which had been incorporated into the base of the Division of Ocean Sciences, remained there.
The Ocean Sediment Coring Program in the Earth Sciences Division was disestablished on October 1. The program's functions were redefined and reassigned to the Division of Ocean Drilling Programs, which was simultaneously established in AAEO and was comprised of (1) Office of the Division Director, (2) Science Section, (3) Engineering and Operations Section, and (4) Field Operations.
1981—On January 30, 1981, the Acquisition and Maintenance Program of Office of Oceanographic Facilities and Support (OFS) was divided into two programs—Ocean Technology, and Fleet Maintenance and Upgrading.
A MATURE SCIENCE
OCE was restructured on July 26, 1981, following the end of IDOE to accommodate its programs and funding. The
research support functions of the IDOE and Oceanography Sections were merged into one section (Ocean Sciences Research Section [OSRS]) with eight programs:
Submarine Geology and Geophysics
From the outset, there were in reality only four programs, in the four component subdisciplines, and four separate budgets, but for the next two years these eight programs appeared on official listings, creating considerable confusion within the community.
The Office for Oceanographic Facilities and Support was reorganized into the Oceanographic Facilities Support Section with the Oceanographic Technology Program and the Operations Program.
On August 3,1981, the Office of Scientific Ocean Drilling was established within the Office of the NSF Director and the Ocean Drilling Program was moved into it from AAEO.
1982—The Oceanographic Facilities Program was established in OFS on April 12, 1982. The Office of Scientific Ocean Drilling was transferred, intact, from the Office of the Director to AAEO on November 14.
1983—Funds were added to the Oceanographic Technology Program to support a technology development component.
1984—The Ocean Drilling Program was established within OFS, and the section was renamed Oceanographic Centers and Facilities Section (OCFS). A little later, the nominal eight programs of OSRS were formally integrated by discipline, resulting in the Biological, Chemical, and Physical Oceanography Programs and Marine Geology and Geophysics Program.
Since 1984, the structure of the division has remained unchanged up to the time of writing, with the minor exception that the technology development component in OCFS was transferred into OSRS as the Ocean Technology and Interdisciplinary Coordination Program. The transfer was made because over the previous decade it had become clear that technology development was mostly in service of research and frequently grants were jointly funded with one of the research programs. Thus, since 1993, there have been five programs in OSRS.
There will be much history eventually written about the development of the U.S. Global Change Research Program from 1984 to the present, and the gradual but very significant increase in budgets within OCE over this period. Only one element of this program, however, has yet been brought to completion (the Tropical Ocean and Global Atmosphere program; see Lambert in this volume), and several are still in their early stages. Some thoughts on the influence of this fourth wave of major ocean programs (after the International Geophysical Year, the International Indian Ocean Expedition, and the International Decade of Ocean Exploration) can be found in the recently published volume Global Ocean Science (NRC, 1999).
Bush, V. 1945. Science—The Endless Frontier. A Report to the President on a Program for Postwar Scientific Research. U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
England, J.M. 1982. A Patron for Pure Science—The National Science Foundation's Formative Years, 1945-1957. NSF Report 82-24. National Science Foundation, Washington, D.C.
Mazuzan, G.T. 1988. The National Science Foundation: A Brief History . NSF Report 88-16. National Science Foundation, Washington, D.C.
National Academy of Sciences (NAS). 1959. Oceanography 1960-1970. National Research Council, Washington, D.C.
National Academy of Sciences (NAS). 1964. Economic Benefits from Oceanographic Research, a Special Report. National Research Council, Washington, D.C.
National Science Foundation (NSF). 1962a. 10-Yea Projection of National Science Foundation Plans to Support Basic Research in Oceanography . Unpublished document.
National Science Foundation (NSF). 1962b. Twelfih Annual Report. National Science Foundation, Washington, D.C.
National Science Foundation (NSF). 1984. Organiza ional Development of the National Science Foundation. NSF Handbook Number 1. Unpublished document.
National Research Council (NRC). 1999. Global Ocean Science: Toward an Integrated Approach. National Academy Press. Washington, D.C.
President's Science Advisory Committee (PSAC). 1966. Effective Use of the Sea. Panel on Oceanography. President's Science Committee, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.