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Oceanography in the Next Decade: Building New Partnerships Summary Federal agencies and the academic oceanography community have been fortunate to work together in productive partnerships. These mutually beneficial partnerships are characterized by the federal agencies' funding research at academic institutions that is important to the agencies' missions or is critical to maintaining the health of the basic ocean research endeavor. These partnerships are likely to change because oceanography is developing a new focus as the results of oceanographic research become increasingly relevant to social and economic concerns. There is an increasing emphasis on global-scale and multidisciplinary research, and a changing mission profile of naval oceanography. Ocean research programs that developed primarily from scientific curiosity have attained increased social meaning and urgency, and federal agencies are increasingly pressured to produce cogent policy options. Yet, over the past decade, academic oceanographers have had access to increasingly limited resources compared to their overall capacity to conduct scientific research. The number of Ph.D.-level academic oceanographers increased dramatically between 1980 and 1990. Also, more sophisticated instrumentation and improved data handling and computing techniques have increased both the scientific capacity of each researcher and the cost of each investigator's research. The net result is a serious imbalance between what can be accomplished and the available
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Oceanography in the Next Decade: Building New Partnerships resources. Fiscal support in the United States has not kept up with scientific progress, whereas other countries have increased their capacities to conduct oceanographic research. To respond to these challenges, federal agencies and the academic oceanography community need to establish productive new partnerships. Key elements in such partnerships are encouraging individual scientists to take intellectual risks in advancing basic knowledge, providing support that is tied to solving present problems, and encouraging scientists to cooperate in the development of large shared research endeavors. These new partnerships will be the basis of a national oceanographic effort that balances the necessity for a robust program in basic research against the need for research directed at important societal problems. This report has three major objectives. The first is to document and discuss important trends in the human, physical, and fiscal resources available to oceanographers, especially academic oceanographers, over the last decade. The second goal is to present the Ocean Studies Board's best assessment of the scientific opportunities in physical oceanography, marine geochemistry, marine geology and geophysics, biological oceanography, and coastal oceanography during the upcoming decade. The third and principal objective is to provide a blueprint for more productive partnerships between academic oceanographers and federal agencies. The board attempts to do this by developing a set of general principles that should provide the basis for building improved partnerships and by discussing critical aspects of the specific partnerships for each federal agency with a significant marine program. OCEANOGRAPHY AND SOCIETY The ocean dominates Earth's surface and greatly affects daily life. It regulates Earth's climate, plays a critical role in the hydrological cycle, sustains a large portion of Earth's biodiversity, supplies food and mineral resources, constitutes an important medium of national defense, provides an inexpensive means of transportation, is the final destination of many waste products, is a major location of human recreation, and inspires our aesthetic nature. Today's sense of urgency about ocean studies is precipitated by human impacts on oceanic systems and the need for a better understanding of the ocean's role in controlling global chemical, hydrological, and climate processes. The nation is faced with pressing marine research problems whose timely solution will require increased cooperation between federal agencies and academic
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Oceanography in the Next Decade: Building New Partnerships scientists. Many of these problems arise from the need to accommodate multiple uses of the ocean and from the ever-increasing concentration of the U.S. population near our coasts. Oceanographic research is important to many of the nation's social concerns, including the following: Global Change. The ocean is key to regulating both natural and human-induced changes in the planet. The role of ocean circulation and the coupling of the ocean and atmosphere are basic to understanding Earth's changing climate. Regional events such as El Niño and ocean margin and equatorial upwelling influence climate on both seasonal and longer time scales. Earth's population is now large enough to alter the chemical composition of the ocean and atmosphere and to impact the biological composition of Earth. Biodiversity. The ocean comprises a large portion of Earth's biosphere. It hosts a vast diversity of flora and fauna that are critical to Earth's biogeochemical cycles and that serve as an important source of food and pharmaceuticals. In addition to the exciting discoveries of previously unknown biota near hydrothermal vents, many deep-ocean organisms have evolved under relatively stable conditions. Their unique physiologies and biochemistries have not yet been explored adequately, and methods for sampling the more fragile of these species have been developed only in the past decade. Human influence on marine biota has increased dramatically, threatening the stability of coastal ecosystems. Some species have been overharvested; others have been transported inadvertently to areas where they are not indigenous, sometimes resulting in deleterious effects on native species. Still other species are being cultivated commercially, and aquaculture facilities along coastlines are becoming commonplace in some countries. A better understanding of the ecology of marine organisms is urgently needed to prevent irreversible damage to this living resource. Environmental Quality. Waste disposed of in coastal areas has reached the open ocean, with broad ramifications for living resources. This problem is compounded because many marine species harvested for commercial and recreational purposes spend a portion of their lives in coastal waters and estuaries. Thus, local pollution can have far-reaching effects. Economic Competitiveness. Economic prosperity in a global marketplace depends increasingly on technical and scientific applications. There is concern about the ability of the United
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Oceanography in the Next Decade: Building New Partnerships States to compete with Europe and Asia. Basic and applied research in the marine sciences and engineering is necessary to achieve and maintain a competitive position in a host of fields, including marine biotechnology, aquaculture, hydrocarbon and mineral exploration and production, maritime transportation, fisheries, treatment and disposal of waste, and freshwater extraction. National Security. Unprecedented world political changes are redefining national defense interests and altering research and development priorities. Knowledge of the ocean, especially the acoustic properties of marginal seas and coastal areas, is critical to national defense. Experience gained in 1991 during the war in the Persian Gulf highlights the need for better information related to oceanic and coastal processes and to maritime operations and transportation. Energy. The ocean's energy resources are essential to the national economy and national security. After a decade of relative neglect, energy issues are reemerging. With oil supplies continually threatened by instability in the Middle East and with increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide viewed as a possible trigger of global warming, there is a need to look carefully at a full range of energy sources, from oil and gas in our Exclusive Economic Zone to wave and tidal power and ocean thermal energy conversion. Better knowledge of the ocean and seabed is necessary to exploit responsibly the ocean's untapped petroleum and natural gas resources. Coastal Hazards. This nation must improve its prediction and response to coastal hazards, both natural and human induced. Hurricanes Hugo and Andrew, two of the strongest hurricanes of the century, devastated parts of the U.S. East Coast. Their impact reinforced the need for better predictive capabilities and a better understanding of coastal storm surges, flooding, erosion, and winds. The exploration for, and production of, petroleum and the transportation of petroleum and chemical products pose risks to the environment when spillage occurs. The movement, effects, and ultimate fates of spilled products must be understood for effective public response. The available information is woefully inadequate, particularly for fragile ecosystems such as coral reefs. Policy decisions concerning these and many other marine research issues require a comprehensive understanding of the science and engineering of the ocean. Federal, state, and local policies should be based on the best available knowledge of how ocean systems work—their biology, chemistry, geology, and physics. Research
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Oceanography in the Next Decade: Building New Partnerships results must be communicated effectively to policy makers, with gaps and uncertainties stated clearly and fairly. Also, basic understanding must continue to improve. MAINTAINING EXCELLENCE Since World War II, the United States has been the world leader in oceanographic research. Maintaining this excellence requires a talented population of scientists, an informed and educated public, a society interested in and appreciative of new discoveries, open lines of communication between oceanographers and the scientific community at large, and the economic resources necessary to conduct oceanographic research. Continued excellence in oceanography is essential to our national interests and requires constant improvement of both physical and human resources at academic oceanographic institutions. Solving both short-and long-term societal and environmental problems will require well-trained and dedicated scientists working in modern, well-equipped institutions, with sufficient funding. It is critical to the vitality of the ocean enterprise to continue nurturing the academic research environment in which students learn by performing research under the guidance of professors at the forefront of oceanographic science and engineering. FUTURE OF OCEANOGRAPHIC SCIENCE Oceanography, the science of the sea, serves many purposes while deriving its impetus from many sources. All of oceanography—physical, chemical, geological, and biological—is driven by scientists interested in advancing basic knowledge. During the past 30 years, marine scientists have verified that Earth's crust is divided into moving plates created at mid-ocean ridges and recycled back into Earth's interior at subduction zones. More recently, dense colonies of animals and bacteria have been discovered at some deep-sea hydrothermal vents and hydrocarbon seeps in ecosystems that only indirectly depend on energy from the Sun. Satellite observations have made possible global estimates of important ocean parameters, such as primary productivity. Our knowledge of interannual climate variations has improved to the point that scientists are now able to forecast El Niño climate disturbances months in advance. These are but a few of the discoveries that have characterized oceanography since the Second World War.
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Oceanography in the Next Decade: Building New Partnerships Over the next decade, the field will continue to provide exciting discoveries that contribute to an understanding of Earth as an integrated system and help unravel how humankind may be altering the system. It is now essential and possible to study marine processes on a global scale. Progress in oceanography over the next decade will occur both in the traditional marine science disciplines and, significantly, at the fringes and intersections of these disciplines. Multidisciplinary approaches will lead to new discoveries regarding the ocean's role in climate change, the hydrodynamics of mid-ocean ridges, and the dynamics of coastal processes. Comprehensive study of these topics will require unprecedented levels of cooperation among scientists from numerous disciplines. Oceanographic studies in the coming decade will focus on how ecosystems affect global cycles of important elements and how changes in the global environment affect marine ecosystems. Studies of the planktonic food web in the sunlit surface waters will advance our understanding of such diverse issues as the role of the ocean in the global carbon cycle and the sustainable yields of commercial fisheries. Studies of ecosystems at deep-sea hydrothermal vents and hydrocarbon seeps will improve theories of the conditions under which life is possible and of the origins of life. More of the ocean will be explored to estimate the extent and nature of deep-ocean vents and their importance in global cycles. Continued study of the ocean's chemistry should bring new understanding of the past state of Earth, and of how marine processes operate today. The study of deep-ocean sediment cores will provide more information about past natural cycles of Earth's climate, against which present climate fluctuations can be calibrated. A better understanding of variability of the circulation of the world ocean, which transports water from near the ocean's surface to deep oceans and back again, will improve our understanding of the variability of the transport of surface water to depth and the interactions with climate. The foundation of oceanographic knowledge now used in making policy decisions was gained largely through investments in basic research over the past four decades. Oceanographers are privileged to participate in a science that is intellectually compelling and has immediate and long-term practical applications. Yet, the pressure for quick answers to practical questions sometimes obscures the need for investing in the improvement of basic science, which remains the key to solving long-term practical problems. Under pressure to provide immediate solutions, it is tempting for agencies whose focus is on their responsibilities for regulation
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Oceanography in the Next Decade: Building New Partnerships and information provision (mission agencies) to concentrate only on these short-term aspects of their missions. Such mission agencies include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Department of Energy (DOE), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), parts of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and others, distinct from the longer-term focus of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Office of Naval Research (ONR). However, the continued success of these mission agencies ultimately depends on the results of basic research, as well as the results of applied research directed at specific problems. CONDUCT OF OCEANOGRAPHIC SCIENCE In the past decade, oceanography has rapidly incorporated new technologies from other fields, remote sensing, material science, electronics, and computer science, for example. A fundamental change arising from the use of these new technologies is an increase in the quality and quantity of data collected and a dramatic increase in each oceanographer's capacity to study oceanic phenomena. As in many fields, the cost of making new discoveries in oceanography has escalated because these discoveries have been achievable only with the development and use of new satellites, vessels, laboratory and field instruments, and computers. This increased cost translates into an increased cost per scientist in the field, in what has been referred to as the "sophistication factor" by the President's Science Advisor, Dr. D. Allan Bromley. Yet, when adjusted for inflation, total research funding for ocean science has remained nearly constant over the past decade. During this interval, the number of Ph.D.-level academic oceanographers has increased by half again. The increase in the scientific capacity of each investigator and in the total number of qualified investigators, coupled with nearly constant overall federal funding, has resulted in inadequate support for many capable researchers. Another significant change in the past decade is the onset of large-scale, long-term global research programs. Primarily planned and begun with NSF support, these programs focus the work of many scientists on global questions. These large programs are usually managed through national or international consortia that involve many scientists, multiple agencies, and often a number of countries. Such programs will explore new questions and test new mechanisms for working together in the next decade. Uncertainties about the changing environment of the planet are rapidly
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Oceanography in the Next Decade: Building New Partnerships moving much of oceanography from a focus on projects that use the capabilities and interests of a single investigator for a limited time to projects that require the involvement of many individuals, institutions, and governments for decades. Special attention should be given to integrating mission agencies into the planning and execution of these long-term programs. Mechanisms must be developed to coordinate the plans of foreign nations, federal agencies, academic institutions, and individual scientists, and to sustain these large-scale efforts in a scientifically and technically sound manner. The realization that global-scale studies are now not only possible but necessary is a major impetus for new partnerships in oceanography. Indeed, the design and deployment of a long-term global ocean observing system, now being planned, will be possible only if such partnerships are realized and the cooperation of marine scientists and governments throughout the world is achieved. TOWARD NEW PARTNERSHIPS Traditional partnerships in the ocean sciences have consisted primarily of academic scientists submitting proposals to the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research for funding. This funding system is powerful and flexible, allowing the NSF and ONR to fund excellent scientists whose areas of expertise are those necessary to solve problems at the forefront of oceanography. Through their support of research and related infrastructure, these two agencies sustain the basic research programs at academic oceanographic laboratories. If significant progress in our basic understanding of the ocean is to continue, the excellent relationships of NSF and ONR with the academic community must be maintained. Agencies that fund oceanography can help maintain competence in the field as problem areas change. Flexibility and variety in scientific approaches can be maintained by an extramural funding strategy that both responds to changing problems and needs, and maintains a strong overall base of scientific activities in the field as a whole. It is more difficult for agencies to respond quickly to change through their own laboratories. Many other federal agencies are also involved in marine science and policy, but their use of the marine science knowledge and their responsibility to the academic community vary widely. Agency responsibilities range from NSF's and ONR's active promotion of the health of basic science to the highly specific and
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Oceanography in the Next Decade: Building New Partnerships practical rule-making procedures of the Environmental Protection Agency. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a wide range of responsibilities in the ocean but is only now beginning to develop significant research programs in many of its areas of responsibility. The future vitality of basic oceanographic research in academia may depend on its forging productive partnerships with NOAA. Partnerships between academic oceanographers and NASA, DOE, USGS, or the Minerals Management Service will add diversity and vitality to the national oceanographic effort. No simple description can usefully encompass the range of partnerships between federal agencies and the academic oceanography community. However, under the traditional arrangement, mission agencies, such as EPA, have received relatively little intellectual input from academia and provided relatively little funding to academic institutions. These agencies, whose short-term missions often require highly applied research, rely primarily on their own scientists. Yet, these same agencies have relied on academic scientists to provide the underpinning knowledge upon which their policy decisions are based. In general, the mission agencies have not contributed much to advancing fundamental knowledge in their areas of concern, perhaps assuming that NSF or ONR would fund basic research adequately. Such a perspective has the danger of focusing oceanography primarily on short-term applied problems. Achieving a sensible balance between basic and applied oceanographic research should be the concern of each agency using the results of ocean research. As the context in which oceanography is conducted changes, how can federal agencies and oceanographers in academic institutions strengthen and improve their cooperative efforts? In general, partnerships must be extended beyond financial relationships to include the sharing of intellect, experience, data, instrument development, facilities, and labor. Communication Many mission agencies and academic scientists have little experience in interacting with one another, but both groups would benefit from doing so. The board recommends that each agency with an ocean mission and without existing strong links to the nongovernment community establish permanent mechanisms for ensuring outside scientific advice, review, and interaction. The obvious advantage of external consultation is that it provides an
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Oceanography in the Next Decade: Building New Partnerships objective evaluation of agency needs and poses possible solutions from a new perspective. The National Research Council is but one possible source of external advice. These advisory groups should report to a level sufficiently high that their views are presented directly to agency policy makers and the relationships are eventually institutionalized to establish a collective memory. The board recognizes that the existence of multiple marine agencies with differing mandates brings a vigor and diversity to the field. However, the lack of coordination and cooperation among agencies that conduct or sponsor marine research detracts from this advantage. Informal attempts at coordination have been largely unsuccessful; a formal mechanism is necessary. The board recommends that, because no single agency is charged with and able to oversee the total national marine science agenda, an effective means be found for agencies to interact at the policy level and formulate action plans. One model for such interaction is the Committee on Earth and Environmental Sciences of the Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering, and Technology. Regardless of the coordinating mechanism chosen, it must permit the agencies to develop a synergistic approach to addressing national problems and to coordinating programs and infrastructure. High-priority tasks for such a group would be an examination of the balance between individual investigator awards and large project support, and the establishment of guidelines for the large, global change projects. Agency Responsibility for Basic Science The vitality of basic ocean research in the United States resides principally in its academic institutions. The board recommends that federal agencies with marine-related missions find mechanisms to guarantee the continuing vitality of the underlying basic science on which they depend. In some agencies, the best mechanism is direct funding of individual investigator grants; in others, consultation and collaboration work well. NSF and, secondarily, ONR should retain primary responsibility for the vitality of the basic science, with NOAA becoming increasingly involved. Also, mission agencies such as EPA and DOE must share more fully in this responsibility. It is particularly important to encourage involvement of mission agencies in sampling and monitoring programs pertaining to long-term global change issues. At present, a disproportionate share of the funds is provided by NSF. As these programs expand, resources for individual
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Oceanography in the Next Decade: Building New Partnerships investigator grants could be reduced if other agencies do not assume responsibility for some of the funding. Responsibility of Academic Institutions Through the years, academic oceanographic institutions evolved different organizational structures ranging from typical academic departments to large comprehensive institutions that operate multiple ships and shared facilities. As the benefits of cooperation became evident, vehicles for the cooperative use of ships and some other facilities have developed. The board recommends that academic oceanographic institutions find additional ways to achieve cohesiveness among these institutions and a sense of common scientific direction. It is essential that this cooperation be achieved at both the administrative and the working-scientist levels so that the interactions are based on the needs of science as well as the needs of the institutions. The board also recommends that the academic institutions, individually or through consortia, take a greater responsibility for the health of the field, including nationally important programs. In particular, the large, long-lived global change research programs are indicative of the need for institutional responses that are of longer duration and more stable than those of individual scientists. Also, the heavy dependence of academic oceanographers on federal support, compared with other fields, suggests that the academic institutions should explore mechanisms for the stable support of academic researchers. Academic scientists have a responsibility to help the federal agencies that fund them when it comes to applying research results to agency missions. Partnerships imply shared responsibilities and anticipation of the future needs of both partners. Sharing of Academic and Federal Resources The board recommends that federal and academic researchers improve the sharing of data, the cooperative use of facilities, and the conduct of joint research. Some mission agencies encourage cooperation with academic scientists, but increased formal interaction could significantly improve the efficiency of the national oceanographic effort. The major facility available to the marine science community, the research fleet, is a national resource. Maintaining, developing, and operating the fleet in the most efficient and cost-effective manner should be paramount in all discussions of shared resources.
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Oceanography in the Next Decade: Building New Partnerships Development of Instrumentation Some advancement of oceanographic knowledge has come through the development of new observational technologies. Effective operational systems to solve the complex problems facing mission agencies will consist largely of instruments that either do not now exist or have not yet been redesigned for oceanography. The development of both in situ and satellite oceanographic instrumentation requires a long-term investment in novel technologies and in the extensive field trials necessary to make instruments operational. The board recommends that to ensure continued progress in instrumentation, new mechanisms be found to address the long time frames necessary for instrument development in oceanography. Mission agencies, whose success will depend increasingly on instrumentation that does not yet exist, should initiate suitable roles in the development of new technology. Transfer of Responsibility The division of tasks between academic scientists and agencies will depend on the agencies' missions, resources, and internal capabilities vis-à-vis the academic community's. Mechanisms must be developed to provide smooth transition from research activities to operational measurements. In particular, the proposed global ocean observing system will necessitate unprecedented levels of monitoring. The board recommends that academia and federal agencies work together to ensure that appropriate long-term measurements are extended beyond the work of any individual scientist or group of scientists and that the quality of such measurements is maintained. Data Management and Exchange The board recommends that the present system for data management and exchange within and among the various elements of the marine science community be modernized to reflect the existence of distributed computing systems, national and international data networks, improved satellite data links, and on-line distribution of oceanographic data. Also, provision must be made for future access to existing data.
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Oceanography in the Next Decade: Building New Partnerships Specific Partnerships These general recommendations form the basis for building new partnerships between federal and academic interests in ocean science. Of course, they do not apply to all agencies to the same degree. The full report discusses aspects of specific partnerships for federal agencies with significant ocean programs. The board believes that if these new partnerships are established and nurtured, the next decade of ocean science research will be characterized by a robust program of basic research and significant progress toward the solution of marine problems of importance to humankind.
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