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Oceanography in the Next Decade: Building New Partnerships
research within academia may depend on its forging productive partnerships with NOAA. 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 (e.g., EPA) received relatively little direct intellectual input from academic and private scientists, and provided relatively little funding to academic institutions. Yet, although such agencies have relied on academic scientists for much of the basic knowledge required to understand policy questions, they have not assumed a serious responsibility to advance that knowledge. These agencies, whose short-term missions often require applied research, rely primarily on agency scientists to carry out their missions with optimal short-term efficiency.
The traditional scientific partnerships that have existed over the past 40 years are likely to change because the focus of oceanography and the way it is carried out are changing. Increased emphasis on the global scale and on multidisciplinary research, the changing emphasis of naval oceanography, and increasingly limited resources relative to an expanded capacity to conduct science by using modern instrumentation and computing are all contributing to change. These factors are pushing the field of oceanography toward serious consideration of the greater efficiency that could be achieved by a better coordinated national oceanography effort.
Our nation is faced with many pressing problems whose solutions would benefit from increased cooperation between federal agencies and nongovernmental scientists. Ocean research programs that developed from scientists' curiosity about nature have a new social context and urgency. A salient example is global change in all its aspects, including ocean circulation, air-sea transfer of gases, response of organisms, sea-level rise, and other effects of a potentially warming Earth. A balance should be maintained between the complementary approaches of large programs and individual investigator science in order to preserve the diversity and vigor of the field. Individual investigator science can be a fertile source of innovative ideas, whereas large programs can garner the resources for global-scale studies and can add momentum, collective wisdom, and resources for long-range planning.
A major impetus for new partnerships in oceanography is the realization that a global scale of study is now both possible and desirable. The design and deployment of a global ocean observing system, now being discussed, will be possible only with coopera-