Future Role of Major Programs

The major oceanographic programs allow the ocean science S&T community to tackle problems otherwise too large to handle by traditional, principal investigator-based proposals. However, it is not clear to ONR that all problems that are larger than an ad hoc grouping of a few cooperating scientists must be addressed by community-wide programs of the size and scope of WOCE, GLOBC, TOGA, etc. The gap in program size between a few principal investigators and a major fraction of the community is large.

ONR funds some intermediate-scale programs (called various names over the years, such as Special Focus Programs and Accelerated Research Initiatives) typically composed of 10-20 investigators and lasting 5 years. ONR finds its interests and objectives are comfortably addressed with this size program. It is possible that a very large program could be formulated as loosely coordinated smaller pieces; this would be more likely to draw ONR into the joint funding of these efforts than the current way of doing business. ONR believes we need to find a way to maximize scientists' time spent on science, and minimize time spent on meetings, coordination, administration, and proposal writing. Programs just big enough to handle carefully defined interdisciplinary bites of the problem, rather than large enough to encompass all possible aspects of the problem, should help. It is the collection of distinct but interrelated intermediate-size efforts that should span the large problems.

Box 2-3 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Major Oceanographic Programs

(Provided by Judith Gray, NOAA)

NOAA's Mission

The mission of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce is to describe and predict changes in the Earth's environment and to conserve and wisely manage the nation's coastal and marine resources. NOAA forecasts the nation's weather, warns the public of impending severe weather and flooding, conducts scientific research to understand and predict weather and climate change, manages the nation's marine fishery resources, protects endangered ocean species, promotes sustainable use of coastal resources, and conducts scientific research to understand and preserve the environment.

NOAA Involvement in Major Oceanographic Programs

In NOAA there are five line offices (National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service [NESDIS], National Marine Fisheries Service [NMFS], National Ocean Service [NOS], National Weather Service [NWS], and Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research [OAR]) and one program office (Office of Global Programs [OGP]). All offices participate in, or benefit from, major ocean research

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