biological, chemical, geological, and physical variability on different spatial scales, requires synoptic collection of many disparate types of data. Similarly, understanding interactive processes or a linked series of processes requires a synoptic, coordinated series of measurements. The collection of these measurements is generally accomplished by vessels coordinated through a series of cruises, often using large and expensive instruments and many people working together on a common set of questions, in a true interdisciplinary (as opposed to multidisciplinary) approach. In other words—major oceanographic programs.
The large amount of data collected during the quasi-synoptic observational phases of many of the ongoing major oceanographic programs presents a new array of challenges in data management, data access, data assimilation, and modeling. Access to these data by project scientists is imperative and in many instances forms the core of the collaborative relationship. Access by the broader research community is an important and commonly underestimated benefit of these programs. In fact, an important indirect effect of these programs is a changed attitude in the community toward data ownership and data access. Striking a balance between accessibility and ownership is a significant challenge facing existing and future programs.
Most of the major programs have data management structures for gathering and distributing data in the program and the nonprogram science community. For example, the Tropical Ocean and Global Atmosphere (TOGA) Program and Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Response Experiment (COARE) made use of the World Wide Web to develop a system that is widely accessed. The World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) created a data information unit (DIU) that serves as a router for data requests and distribution. As previously discussed, the greatest legacy of the major oceanographic programs may be the data that they have collected, and the continuation of certain data-gathering efforts may prove to greatly enhance that legacy.
Two examples of time-series that were initiated as part of major program science plans include what are commonly referred to as the HOTS and BATS series. The Hawaii Ocean Time Series (HOTS)2 is a component of both WOCE and JGOFS, intended to obtain a long-time series of physical and biochemical observations in the North Pacific subtropical gyre. Since October 1988, HOTS has occupied Station ALOHA approximately every month. The observational strategy is to combine periodic occupations of Station ALOHA with continuous moored measurements. Easy access to the HOTS data is available via the World Wide Web. To date, HOTS has supported research on lowered acoustic profiler
http://hahana.soest.hawaii.edu/hot/hot_jgofs.html; August 13, 1998