Major advances in scientific understanding are often enabled by new technology that provides a clearer view and different perspective of natural processes. When these advances have an impact on societal and economic issues, major national benefits can accrue. Today, the field of oceanography has an opportunity to assemble new data and impart new understanding of the ocean's role in global change. Many aspects of our society may depend on how well we can anticipate the role that the ocean will play in determining the future climate of the planet. Our ability to anticipate, and possibly avoid, deleterious changes in global climate will depend on our ability to understand how the biological, chemical, physical, and geological processes in the ocean interact with each other and with atmospheric and terrestrial processes. This depth of understanding will be possible only by implementing the carefully planned programs devised by oceanographers in academia and government and by providing access to the necessary "tools"—ships, satellite sensors, in situ instruments, oceanic cores, and computer resources—to successfully complete these programs.
The Ocean Studies Board (OSB) published a report in 1992, Oceanography in the Next Decade: Building New Partnerships, that made a number of recommendations related to the programs described herein. The OSB recommended that "the academic institutions, individually or through consortia, take a greater responsibility for the health of the field including nationally
important programs." In particular, the large, long-lived global change research programs highlight the need for institutional responses that are more stable and of longer duration than those of individual scientists. The OSB also recommended that "academia and federal agencies work together to ensure that appropriate long-term measurements are extended beyond the work of any individual scientist or group of scientists and that the quality of such measurements is maintained."
A partnership among academia, government agencies, the private sector, and large-scale international and national global and climate change programs should be established. Since the primary goal of global change programs is accurate climate prediction and since the future of our society may depend upon achievement of this goal, global change programs should be carefully planned, thoroughly reviewed, and sufficiently funded.