mation by associating science questions with infrastructure components (Chapter 4) and suggesting the factors that federal agencies should consider in quantifying the linkages between infrastructure investments and outcomes (Chapters 5 and 6). The uncertainty associated with future benefits from infrastructure investments, in part due to unanticipated applications, is also recognized in the report.


The Committee on an Ocean Infrastructure Strategy for U.S. Ocean Research in 2030 was assembled by the National Research Council to provide recommendations to SOST, which is composed of the federal agencies with interests and/or responsibility for the ocean environment. In addition to SOST agencies, the committee envisions that this report will be of use for policy makers and the greater oceanographic community.

The committee determined that the charge (Box 1.1) was written broadly and the most significant aspects of the charge were embedded in paragraph text. These main points are

  1. Identify major research questions anticipated to be at the forefront of ocean science in 2030.

  2. Define categories of infrastructure that should be included in planning for the nation’s ocean research infrastructure of 2030.

  3. Provide advice on the criteria and processes that could be used to set priorities for the development of new ocean infrastructure or replacement of existing facilities.

  4. Recommend ways the federal agencies can maximize the value of investments in ocean infrastructure.

  5. Address societal issues in the same context as Charting the Course of Ocean Science in the United States for the Next Decade: An Ocean Research Priorities Plan and Implementation Strategy.

It is these five points that were used to structure the report. The Statement of Task also includes a bulleted set of considerations that are addressed within the report chapters and were used to focus and refine specific issues.

In order to address its charge and formulate conclusions and recommendations, the committee reviewed relevant ocean policy documents, community and agency strategic plans, peer-reviewed publications, and input from the ocean science community in response to a public solicitation. The information gathering process for this report also included presentations by and discussions with representatives of federal agencies, community groups, and experts in a variety of scientific and engineering disciplines. This was accomplished through meeting open sessions with invited presentations, a workshop with 20 invited speakers (Appendix B), community input solicited through advertisements in scientific journals, and a session at the 2010 Ocean Sciences Meeting (Appendix C).


This report identifies a number of issues related to strategic thinking about ocean infrastructure needs and capabilities for 2030. Chapter 2 discusses major science research questions that are expected to be of importance in the next 20 years. In Chapter 3, the committee considers ocean infrastructure trends in the past 20 years (1990-2010) and categorizes the types of infrastructure for consideration when planning for future U.S. ocean research infrastructure. Linkages between the major research questions and needed infrastructure assets and capabilities for 2030 are explored in Chapter 4. Criteria and processes that could be used to set priorities for infrastructure investments is addressed in Chapter 5, while Chapter 6 evaluates ways that federal investments in ocean research infrastructure could be maximized.

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