provide long-term capabilities in remote regions where cabled observatories are unavailable or would be prohibitively expensive to install.
The sections in this chapter summarize the discussions and scientific outcomes of breakout groups organized according to the six National Science Foundation (NSF) decadal report themes based on the “Futures ” workshops (Baker and McNutt, 1996; Jumars and Hay, 1999; Mayer and Druffel, 1999; Royer and Young, 1999). Each section addresses future directions and major scientific problems, the role of sustained time-series observations, and technical requirements for seafloor observatories. Boxes describing currently active observatory or time-series experiments have been included where they are appropriate to the science being discussed. In addition, tables (developed based on symposium discussions) have been added to each section, highlighting areas where observatories are “very useful” in investigating a scientific problem, and where they are “useful.” The term “very useful” is used to categorize scientific problems for which long-term, time-series datasets collected at seafloor observatories will result in substantial scientific progress that will either not be possible using a traditional expeditionary approach or can only be accomplished with limited success using more traditional means. “Useful” is used to categorize those scientific problems for which an observatory approach will provide a valuable complement to other more traditional research strategies.
Climate variations have widespread societal, economic, and environmental impacts. As a result, vigorous research efforts are currently aimed at improving understanding of the spectrum of climate system variations, discovering potentially predictable elements, and exploiting that potential. For example, El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) forecasts have demonstrated both the potential and the value of climate prediction.
The ocean is an intrinsic component of Earth's climate system, playing an increasingly important role in determining the nature of climate variability as timescales increase. Researchers seek to improve our understanding of the role of ocean heat storage, transport, and release in the coupled ocean-atmosphere-land climate system, and of the interactions of oceanic biogeochemistry with the climate system (Boxes 2-1 and 2-2).
Ultimately, we seek to predict climate variability and change. This requires accurately predicting the evolution of the ocean (especially near-surface temperatures) when changes in atmospheric forcing occur. Despite impressive