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Oceanography in 2025: Responding to Growing Populations on a Rapidly Changing Planet

Scott Glenn*

APPROACH

Where will our field of physical oceanography be in 2025? As an ocean forecaster, I find comfort starting with observations of where our field is today, determining what is changing, and what is staying the same. Next, I look at the forcing functions, specifically what will be required of us, and what new technologies will enable us to meet these needs. Then, based on this information, I try to project forward.

WHAT IS STAYING THE SAME?

  • The ocean is still multiscale and complex, as well as a difficult place to work. Observing, understanding and modeling the cascade of time and space scales will remain a challenge.

  • Despite significant investments in ocean science, applications and observational infrastructure, the ocean is and will remain vastly undersampled. Our prized glimpses of the well-sampled times and locations will continue to inform model development.

  • Models will continue to improve, growing more complex and interdisciplinary as computational capabilities continue to increase.

  • Even with 30 years of satellite oceanography and more recent advances in remote and autonomous systems, oceanographers

*

Rutgers University



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Oceanography in 2025: Responding to Growing Populations on a Rapidly Changing Planet Scott Glenn* APPROACH Where will our field of physical oceanography be in 2025? As an ocean forecaster, I find comfort starting with observations of where our field is today, determining what is changing, and what is staying the same. Next, I look at the forcing functions, specifically what will be required of us, and what new technologies will enable us to meet these needs. Then, based on this information, I try to project forward. WHAT IS STAYING THE SAME? • The ocean is still multiscale and complex, as well as a difficult place to work. Observing, understanding and modeling the cas- cade of time and space scales will remain a challenge. • Despite significant investments in ocean science, applications and observational infrastructure, the ocean is and will remain vastly undersampled. Our prized glimpses of the well-sampled times and locations will continue to inform model development. • Models will continue to improve, growing more complex and interdisciplinary as computational capabilities continue to increase. • Even with 30 years of satellite oceanography and more recent advances in remote and autonomous systems, oceanographers * Rutgers University 1

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1 OCEANOGRAPHY IN 2025 still go to sea on ships and below the surface in submersibles. This continues despite the increase in operating cost. • Somehow we will continue to find clever ways to cobble together support to maintain critical time series datasets. WHAT CHANGES ARE OBSERvED? • Coastal ocean observatories are now a sustainable reality leverag- ing multi-agency support. NOAA is constructing a National High Frequency (HF) Radar network. Gliders are being transitioned into the operational Navy. U.S. IOOS has formed 11 Regional Associa- tions. The NSF OOI includes a coastal component. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Centers of Excellence are leveraging these resources. Energy companies are contributing to accelerate both scientific discovery and operational support. • High-resolution nested atmospheric forecasts are an operational reality. A growing ensemble is run every day by academic, indus- try and government agencies in many regions around the country. The locally generated regional forecasts enhance the coarser reso- lution global and national forecasts. • Physical ocean forecast models now work. There is still plenty of room for improvement and operational hurdles to overcome, but they do provide guidance when the dedicated effort can be applied. • Coupling of biological, chemical, and geological models to the physical oceanographic models is accelerating. This is enhanced by the use of physical circulation models and new observations to separate observed changes into physical transports and biologi- cal, chemical, or geological transformations. • The growth of interdisciplinary science. More funding is going to interdisciplinary science teams. More multi-author papers are being published. More papers acknowledge multiple funding agencies. • The emergence of campaign-style science. We often go to sea on single ships. We now see an increasing trend to also go to sea in coordinated fleets. • Interest in observatory datasets, scientific understanding, and the resulting predictive models has grown well beyond the scientific community. The same data and forecasts used by the scientists benefit government agencies and private industry. The reverse is also true, resulting in a broader funding base. • Oceanography is becoming more integrated with other disci- plines. This is enabled by some oceanographic institutions

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19 SCOTT GLENN being purposely located on the main campus of larger research universities. • While marine education is still dominated by the graduate schools, undergraduate education, once vehemently opposed by many oceanographers, is a growing reality. The need to promote a more ocean-literate public and invigorate the K-12 pipeline has been recognized. WHAT ARE SOME OF TODAY’S GLOBAL DRIvERS? • The growing global human population will reach about eight bil- lion by 2025, with most of the growth in less developed countries. Growth and migration result in the largest increases in coastal regions. Growing populations require more food, water and energy. • Less developed coastal countries are more reliant on fisheries than the well-developed coastal countries. Many of our world fisheries are already at capacity, but pressure for food for people and feed for domesticated animals grows. Aquaculture is grow- ing to fill some of the gap. • Energy need is synonymous with climate change. The need to reduce carbon inputs to the atmosphere while meeting the increas- ing global energy needs will require the full range of responses, including greener energy sources and new approaches to carbon sequestration in the ocean. • While coastal populations grow, so do urbanized centers. The local effect of megacities with human and industrial outputs, high volume ports for goods and energy, and highly impacted fisheries will require research on urbanized watersheds, estuaries and coasts for more informed management. Research in complex, heavily trafficked coastal regions is required in the U.S. and exportable to other countries. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE KEY ADvANCES THAT WILL ENABLE THE NExT GROWTH STEPS? • Ocean remote sensing will continue to make advances. Key is the development of new algorithms for ocean color, new active radar satellite sensors, and sustained coastal HF radar networks. Like ships of opportunity, inexpensive remote sensing systems will be deployed on aircraft of opportunity. • Mobile autonomous platforms are fundamentally transforming our ability to sample the subsurface ocean. They can be deployed

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20 OCEANOGRAPHY IN 2025 for sustained operations well beyond the endurance of ships, are cheap enough to be assembled and flown in coordinated fleets or swarms, are rugged enough to sample through severe storms, and are unmanned, so they can be deployed on riskier missions in extreme environments. They will continue to evolve, and become more complex in their options and capabilities for propulsion, energy utilization, communications, sensor payloads, and auto- mated control. • Communications are key to adaptive sampling, assimilation, and the development of collaborative communities. The inter- net on land, improved two-way global satellite communications, broader shore-based cell phone networks, and research on under- water communications will continue to develop into a ubiquitous communication grid. • Autonomous platforms require sustained power to remain effec- tive. Battery technology, driven by broader needs than oceano- graphic, will produce safer, higher energy density batteries, both primary and rechargeable. Research on power harvesting sys- tems will continue. Offshore wind farms are excellent sampling and communication platforms. Wave energy systems are already being built and deployed. • New biological, chemical and sediment particle sensors will introduce new capabilities that can be miniaturized, automated, and made more energy efficient for deployments on autonomous platforms. • Platform control systems. Control of autonomous platforms is still very rudimentary, and in all but a few cases still includes a human in the loop. As we increase the number of platforms and sensors, new automated control software will be developed that increases the platform’s ability to make decisions on its own, to operate as a coordinated swarm, and to interact with datasets and people on shore. • Data visualization. The ability to visualize multivariate datas- ets and model output by a distributed community for scientific analysis, adaptive sampling and decision-making will evolve. WHAT WILL THE FUTURE LOOK LIKE BASED ON THESE EvOLvING NEEDS AND CAPABILITIES? • The need for ocean research will remain strong, including the impacts of climate change as it progresses, research on green energy generation, carbon sequestration or geoengineering to reduce the rate of climate change, research on sustainable fisher-

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21 SCOTT GLENN ies and aquaculture to provide food, and research on the balanced management of urbanized coasts. While the need for broad inter- disciplinary research will increase, proceed without fear. Even though other ways to succeed in academic ocean science beyond the present disciplinary model will develop, the need for single discipline PI research will remain. • Satellites were the transformational technology of the 1980s, changing the way we viewed the ocean. Ocean observatories are the transformational technologies of the 2000s. By the 2020s, interdisciplinary transport and transformation models will be the transformational technology. Specific development projects will focus on improved parameterizations for the unresolved mixing scales, and the interdisciplinary ocean model components, of the coupled atmosphere-ocean-land models. And, as with the other transformational technologies, you will no longer need to be an ocean modeler to use ocean models. • We will build new scientific alliances that go beyond institutional walls to accomplish greater goals. Coastal alliances will form to cover the spatial scales of the world’s many Large Marine Eco- systems. Global alliances will form to address problems in remote and extreme environments such as the poles and the southern oceans. The teams that form will likely be assembled in the con- tinuing spirit of the National Ocean Partnership Program (NOPP), pulling from the greater pool of researchers. • The number of individuals in oceanography and breadth of their experience will grow. The definition of an oceanographer is already different for today’s students than it was for us. Today’s students have a wider variety of degrees and careers to choose from as they pursue their interest in ocean science.