- The role of the ocean in decadal to centennial climate variability including the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and its relationship with El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) modulation, the North Atlantic Oscillation, seasonal variability of monsoons, and adaptation of the circulation, seawater chemistry, and organisms to these changes.
- The ocean's response to anthropogenic climate change including radiatively important gases—their production in the atmosphere and fate and transport in the oceans; seawater properties, circulation, and genetic mixing of biological populations and nutrient inputs from groundwater and the atmosphere and their role in coastal eutrophication.
- The importance of 3-D and 4-D6 reflection seismic data to better image a number of geologic phenomena including the structure and evolution of divergent and convergent margins, sedimentology, and stratigraphy of continental shelf and shoreface settings.
- On-axis and off-axis mid-ocean ridge process effects on the geology, biology, and alteration of seawater chemistry.
- Multidisciplinary observing of deep-sea processes, for example the relationship between primary productivity and the flux to the deep-sea, high-resolution climate signals in the deep-sea, genetic make up, and effect on the geological record of the microbiology of the deep seafloor.
- Development of technology for modeling and data assimilation for forecasting and integrating the physical climate system, biogeochemical fluxes, and population biology.
There are several ways to address gaps within a program and between programs. One way is to strengthen links between the major oceanographic programs. This can be achieved through joint workshops, forums, and plenary sessions at annual meetings. These would be attended by members of the major oceanographic program steering committees and principal investigators, with the goal of fostering coordination. These workshops could be held as a part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Institutes, Gordon Conferences, Chapman Conferences, or Dahlem Conferences, or they could be organized through the National Research Council. Communication could also be strengthened through World Wide Web sites and newsletters. All of the major oceanographic program representatives responding to the questionnaires (Appendix D) emphasized the need to foster communication among major oceanographic programs.