BOX 1.1

Statement of Task

The National Research Council will assemble an expert committee to provide advice and a perspective from the worldwide ocean community on the types of U.S. ocean infrastructure that will facilitate research in 2030, including advice as to what criteria may be most appropriate for setting priorities.

The committee will identify major research questions anticipated to be at the forefront of ocean science in 2030 based on national and international assessments, input from the worldwide scientific community, and ongoing research planning activities. Next, the committee will define categories of infrastructure that should be included in planning for the nation’s ocean research infrastructure of 2030 and that will be required to answer the major research questions of the future, taking into consideration

  • New scientific and technological developments, including adoption of capabilities and discoveries outside of the ocean sciences;

  • Interdependence of various infrastructure assets and multipurpose or multiuser assets;

  • How anticipated changes in the oceans, its interactions with the atmosphere, land, sea ice, marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and humans, and commercial enterprises might affect demand for various assets and operational characteristics;

  • Potential use of infrastructure assets supported by federal, state, and local governments and by industry to collect data for multiple goals;

  • Potential for emerging technology to increase the substitutability of various infrastructure components, thus providing greater flexibility or surge capacity;

  • Potential opportunities to phase out programs or facilities in order to develop capabilities in new research areas; and

  • Institutional or policy barriers, if any, that may hinder the optimal use of facilities and infrastructure. This would include restrictions on the use of facilities and infrastructure by nontraditional users, including private industry, and possible ways to optimize the use of research facilities.

The report will 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. It will not recommend specific new infrastructure or facility fabrication or construction investments. In undertaking this task, the committee will consider a variety of issues, such as partnerships with other nations and industry, constraints on acquisition and operation of research platforms, and suitability of facilities for addressing a diversity of scientific endeavors. 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, this study will address societal issues. In addition, the committee will recommend ways in which the federal agencies can maximize the value of investments in ocean infrastructure. This may include practices that would facilitate the transition of facilities and infrastructure for research into operational use.

significant oceanographic research questions. The Statement of Task is found in Box 1.1. Committee biographies can be found in Appendix A.

During the course of this study, the National Ocean Council was established to implement the Final Recom­mendations of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force (Executive Order 13547, July 19, 2010). The implementation strategy for the National Ocean Policy (CEQ, 2010) includes the following priorities: ecosystem-based management; coastal and marine spatial planning; informing decisions and improving decision making, coordination and support; resiliency and adaptation to climate change and ocean acidi­fication; regional ecosystem protection and restoration; water quality and sustainable practices on land; changing condi­tions in the Arctic; and ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ob­servations, mapping, and infrastructure. SOST has also been in the process of updating Charting the Course of Ocean Science in the United States for the Next Decade: An Ocean Research Priorities Plan and Implementation Strategy.2


The Merriam-Webster Dictionary3 defines “infrastruc­ture” as “the underlying foundation or basic framework (as of a system or organization)” or “the resources (as personnel, buildings, or equipment) required for an activity.” Consistent with this definition, U.S. infrastructure for ocean research could be broadly defined as the full portfolio of platforms, sensors, data sets and systems, models, computational and network services, personnel, facilities, and enabling organi­zations that the nation can bring to bear to answer questions requiring understanding of the ocean.

For the purpose of this report, the committee adopts a slightly narrower definition that focuses on the shared or community resources accessible to the U.S. ocean research enterprise. This excludes personnel and resources associated exclusively with a particular investigator’s research activi­ties, which are often very specialized, prototypes in devel­

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