results must be communicated effectively to policy makers, with gaps and uncertainties stated clearly and fairly. Also, basic understanding must continue to improve.
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.
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.