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Future Directions in Nearshore Oceanography

H. Tuba Özkan-Haller*

ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT THE STATE OF AVAILABLE TECHNOLOGY AND THEIR EFFECT ON RESEARCH METHODS

The thoughts outlined herein are based on a few assumptions about the state of resources available in 2025. These assumptions affect oceanography as a whole, although I will discuss nearshore oceanography in particular. Note that within this context, the nearshore region includes any part of the ocean that is affected by the presence of surface gravity waves. It is assumed that between now and ~2025,

  • Increases in computational power will continue, though the architecture may be dictated by the entertainment industry. Advances in wireless communication technologies and increases in available bandwidth are also assumed to continue, although paradigm shifts in the way scientific computations are carried out or data is gathered may need to occur to take advantage of all advances. Nonetheless, herein it is assumed that computational power or bandwidth issues are not the limiting factors.

  • Remote observations (video, radar, infrared [IR], LIDAR, etc.) will mature over the next few decades and will provide high resolution synoptic observations. These will likely produce standard data products (perhaps similar to satellite data products) available to the research community.

*

College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University



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Future Directions in Nearshore Oceanography H. Tuba Özkan-Haller* ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT THE STATE OF AvAILABLE TECHNOLOGY AND THEIR EFFECT ON RESEARCH METHODS The thoughts outlined herein are based on a few assumptions about the state of resources available in 2025. These assumptions affect ocean- ography as a whole, although I will discuss nearshore oceanography in particular. Note that within this context, the nearshore region includes any part of the ocean that is affected by the presence of surface gravity waves. It is assumed that between now and ~2025, • Increases in computational power will continue, though the archi- tecture may be dictated by the entertainment industry. Advances in wireless communication technologies and increases in avail- able bandwidth are also assumed to continue, although paradigm shifts in the way scientific computations are carried out or data is gathered may need to occur to take advantage of all advances. Nonetheless, herein it is assumed that computational power or bandwidth issues are not the limiting factors. • Remote observations (video, radar, infrared [IR], LIDAR, etc.) will mature over the next few decades and will provide high resolu- tion synoptic observations. These will likely produce standard data products (perhaps similar to satellite data products) avail- able to the research community. * College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University 101

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102 OCEANOGRAPHY IN 2025 • Numerical models that were developed over the last decade will mature to the point where routine predictions (similar to weather predictions) can be made (e.g., waves at navigational inlets). In the past, the development of high performance computing was significantly influenced by the needs of the scientific enterprise. Recently, advances in computational power have been driven primarily by the entertainment industry through the popularization of video games and the associated advances in graphics cards. This trend will likely become more pronounced; hence, the scientific community will need to adapt to the available new technologies through the use of different programming platforms. As remote sensing technologies mature, they will likely begin produc- ing standardized data products and the raw data may not be available to the scientist. However, the products will likely be available to a broad cross-section of the scientific community. Finally, routine forecasts of local wave conditions are just now coming online although the accuracy and reliability of such predictions still needs to be rigorously assessed. Nonetheless, it is likely that local wave and circulation forecasts (e.g., waves near navigational inlets, rip current fore- casts at selected beaches) may become routine over the next few decades. Such efforts will produce long term data sets of model predictions that may be readily accessed by the scientific community. Note that all these potential changes will enable rapid advancements in the science. However, they may necessitate paradigm shifts in scientific programming, data processing and use, and may require targeted invest- ment of time and funds. FUTURE DIRECTIONS Discipline-based research will likely continue as part of all oceano- graphic subfields. Within nearshore oceanography, such work will likely be related to, for example, details of wave breaking, details of the turbu- lence generated due to the wave breaking process, or small scale sediment transport processes. Studies such as these will likely involve highly inten- sive direct numerical simulations using the Navier-Stokes equations. Such computations may need to take advantage of computational power that is arising due to the rapid evolution of the entertainment gaming industry. Although progress in discipline-based science is important, it is also becoming evident that feedbacks in the ocean exist that involve pro- cesses that are traditionally covered by different disciplines. For exam- ple, biological-physical interactions in the nearshore zone affect larval transport and recruitment. Chemical-physical interactions affect oxygen

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103 H. TUBA ÖzKAN-HALLER penetration into sandy sediments on the inner shelf and influence the morphology of the ocean bottom. Inner shelf and nearshore areas may be more interconnected than previously thought. Wave-structure interaction studies involving non-deforming bodies may need to be applied to newly emerging controllable wave energy extraction devices (that significantly affect that surrounding wave field). This will involve consideration of device control, structural dynamics and physical oceanography. The current funding climate makes obtaining funding for cross- disciplinary research difficult (targeted programs are a notable exception). Yet much of the relevant science is maturing rapidly and the science will soon likely be in a position to start disentangling the complexity in the oceans. Once this dilemma is resolved increased productivity in cross- disciplinary research may follow.