The committee recognized that attempting a quantitative census of the opinions held by members of the ocean science community was beyond the scope and resources of the study. Consequently, the committee developed a series of questionnaires intended to help ascertain the range of views held. Although this approach is limited, the committee did find it useful as a way to stimulate and focus discussion in several key areas discussed in Chapters 4 and 5. The responses listed below were selected and included to provide a qualitative sense of the range of views held within the community. (Note: Most, but not all, of the respondents to the Website questionnaire identified themselves as nonprogram scientists. Responses provided by program scientists are indicated by the +.)
Question: Have major oceanographic programs led to a demonstrable increase in our understanding of the oceans?
"Yes, I think they have had a significant impact. Major programs are needed to look at large-scale problems in a multidisciplinary manner. However, it is critical that they are well coordinated, and that the persons involved in the various research areas contribute to the goals of the multidisciplinary project, rather (as it is often the case) than just carrying out their own independent research under the umbrella of these programs. The goals of these programs should also be critically assessed by a wide variety of ocean scientists, which should include those doing cutting-edge research in non-JOI universities and institutions. Otherwise, these major oceanographic programs become a funding vehicle (i.e., scientific pork) for a few institutions (which do necessarily carry out the most important research). It may, therefore, be a conflict of
interest for a few individuals from a few institutions to design these large programs that are targeted only to a few institutions.''
"Yes. However it has also hurt the core programs of NSF and has therefore cut down on creative, innovative research and thinking."†
"In a simple answer—I do not think so. These major projects, while adding to our understanding of various processes and ocean regimes, have not provided conclusions or new underlying concepts (the TOPEX project1 being one of the few exceptions). An example of this is the JGOFS project that to this day cannot provide numbers for net primary productivity! One general reason for this is a shortfall in the degree of collaboration to make these programs successful."
"It seems one of the major accomplishments of the projects has been an increase in the amount of observations available for analysis. I'm not aware of major conceptual breakthroughs associated with the programs, but I've not made an effort to keep up with them, and it also seems most have had little time for synthesis, except ODP, which I believe has been a great success."
"In general, yes, but I believe the cost far outweighed the success. For JGOFS for example, we have gone to lots of different oceans, but how good are the CO2 budgets when they don't adequately provide information on the impact of episodic events which account for a disproportionate share of total ocean productivity. A lot of the program was the same major groups going to lots of different oceans for a few transacts."
"I think they have led to expanded data sets over large spatial areas, but I tend to only notice major scientific advances which are concisely demonstrated, usually in individual papers. The understanding of the oceans gained from the large programs is too dilute to put my finger on."
"Absolutely. In fact, I don't believe that given the tight funding constraints which characterize the current grant climate that it would be possible to conduct risky, expensive experiments without these large programs. The peer review system is too conservative to promote such research without the large programs."†
"There is no doubt that collaborative efforts and large programs are required to answer some questions. However, the increase in our knowledge should be judged against the cost of the program and significance of the questions posed; in other words., is it worthwhile to fund scientists to make what in many cases are routine measurements, if the overarching questions are not compelling? Too often the research is not hypothesis-driven and the contributions of many participating principal investigators are unequal."
Question: Have major oceanographic programs provided additional facilities or instrumentation (or methods) that you would use in your research?
"Yes. The funding of oceanographic vessels is an area that in my opinion is very relevant. I am not so familiar with analytical facilities funded by programs
such as JGOFS; although they exist, they are not open to non-JGOFS scientists."
"No. Frankly, in my opinion, these programs would help only the major oceanographic institutions to build up their facilities, which give them further advantages in seeking grants over smaller institutions."†
"Yes. My personal research is in the area of marine seismology and many of the tools we use today (an MCS streamer and system on the R/V Ewing) and portable seafloor instruments would not be available without RIDGE and ODP. Much of the rationale for these systems relies upon the work being done in ODP and RIDGE."†
"My field is physical oceanography and mainly current meters. Advances in current meter technology become manifest when they are successfully marketed. In the sense that big programs provide a market to encourage development they have resulted in some better instrumentation being available."
"Probably, but it is often difficult to get a response from major oceanographic program participants because I (we) are not in the club. We would very much like to have access to some instrumentation and/or methods here in the Great Lakes, but fresh water is only an imperative when there isn't enough."
"The satellites are great, but they were supplied by NASA."†
Question: What impact, positive or negative, have major oceanographic programs had on collegiality (defined as the willingness to work together for a common goal) in the oceanographic community?
"The perception for someone outside of the large programs is that it was a club. How many on the steering committee were principal investigators on most of the proposals? It was a conflict of interest which never seemed to be addressed. Working to a common goal is important, but if it is the same gang most every time then it is not necessarily a community goal but a group goal. This may just be unfair perception, but I think it does not bode well if it is a perception for the non-large-program scientists at large. I would add I have received grants from NSF and ONR, therefore I would not believe any argument that only the best were solicited for these programs."
"These large programs once established are truly a club, where members of these large programs are on each other's steering committees. While their willingness to work together is essential for their financial success, willingness to bring others in once a program is established is rarely the norm."
"For the most part, major oceanographic programs have been rather removed and distant from the minority ocean science communities. Therefore, while they have enjoyed the benefits of minority tax dollars that support science endeavors, they have given little or nothing back to the minority communities in helping to uplift scholars."
"I feel a separation from the community which implements and benefits from the big programs. Again, as a physical oceanographer person at a small institute, I cannot imagine participating in a program to deploy dozens of moorings. Those programs will always be the exclusive province of a few large institutes."
"I think there has been for the most part a negative impact. From an outsider point of view, I feel like the JGOFS scientists (to cite an example I am familiar with) have formed a "clique" so that groups that were initially part of the first JGOFS initiative have had the inside scoop in future initiatives and were chosen and funded to do research in them. Now, it may be partially a case of "scientific and funding envy", but I definitely felt ''shut out" from some of the new JGOFS initiatives by the fact that I had no previous record of participation. Furthermore, I feel completely "out of the loop" with regard to determining future research directions for such large-scale programs. I think that this feeling is common to many researchers in perhaps lesser known oceanographic institutions that do not have the connections or are not part of the 'inside oceanographic community'. Many of them carry out truly outstanding scientific research funded by the regular NSF programs, but have restricted access to these larger programs."
"Generally, they have fostered stronger cooperation between scientists. However, the poor state of planning for the future does not appear to indicate that this job has been done particularly well."†
"If you are in the 'in group' they have enhanced collegiality; if you are in the 'outgroup,' it is an exclusionary environment, where as much effort is put into cementing political alliances as is put into science."
"Within MOPs [Major Oceanographic Programs], no idea. Between MOPs and 'regular' scientists, a slight reduction. MOP investigators are often too busy with each other to work with outsiders. I've lost a couple of great working friends this way."
"I think some of these programs have led to a division of scientists with the large group members on the 'inside' and nonmembers on the 'outside.' It seems as if the same people are often involved in these programs (e.g., many JGOFS participants are now part of GLOBEC)."†
"Many more oceanographers are willing to share their data than before TOGA. It is my understanding that the WOCE people are still trying to learn that sharing is good for all."†
"Ocean research can be extremely expensive, so it is absolutely essential for cooperation to exist in order for the most important marine science questions to be addressed. However, this creates a situation where setting the agenda becomes
extremely important. Agenda setting must avoid becoming a closed, rigid process where emerging marine science issues fail to be addressed."
"I have been impressed with the degree of collegiality I have seen in the planning meetings. However, I have also seen that all too often these programs are hijacked by a few individuals with a personal agenda, or by a parent agency. For example the GLOBEC California Current Program has now centered on salmon. This was because it was politically expedient to work on a commercial species and because of the involvement of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in GLOBEC. Also, I have seen some members of SSCs working to ensure that they will have a piece of the pie, or that they push the project to ends that are not in the interest of the overall program, but are in their own interest. Having said this, I still think there is tremendous benefit to the process and at the end of the day I think it is a great way to proceed. However, it cannot be at the expense of those of us who are not able to participate in these programs. These programs cannot be all things to all people. They won't work unless they are properly focused. Unfortunately, the reality is people are going to be left out of the program when money becomes available. Therefore, it is imperative that core programs are available to continue to fund research that is not all program driven."
Question: Were there any scientific objectives that were compromised by infrastructure limitations in the major programs?
"This should be considered fairly broadly. For example, while a capability for deploying and collecting hydrographic data was available for JGOFS and WOCE, as the seagoing portions of these programs wind down, there will not be continuing support to ensure that experimental groups remain alive. The next time experiments must be done it may be impossible to provide the equipment, engineers, and technicians with the needed oceanographic capabilities. This scenario is repeated across oceanography and disciplines and includes issues as expensive as the oceanographic fleet."†
"Yes. In GLOBEC, funds were limited and there was a serious lack of support from NOAA/NMFS. While I was involved in GLOBEC, NSF had taken on more than its share of funding. The difference between the way NOAA/NMFS works and the academic community worked created problems. Things have changed with GLOBEC, so some of this may have been fixed since I was on the SSC. The other problem which occurs is the need to focus the research questions. This by its very nature is limiting and thus reduces the questions early on to a given direction. However, it is essential for a focused effort to succeed that the questions and geography is fairly focused."
"EqPac suffered from using brand new vessel, although it worked out very well in the end. HOT suffered badly from inconsistent ship support. Generally, the ship support aspect should have been less troublesome. NSF/UNOLS did not work hard enough to ensure proper ship support. Ships are too much driven by politics and/or economics—too little driven by science these days."†
"Yes, but some of these couldn't be foreseen and in most cases work arounds have been found."†
Question: List some of the technological limitations facing you in your efforts to reach your research objectives.
"The hardest task we face is collecting our data on behavior of large predators with simultaneous data on physical and biological oceanography. Our predators have specific locations that they tend to occur in large numbers. It has been difficult to get the oceanography community to work in the same areas."
"Availability of modern research ships and field equipment, up-to-date analytical equipment, and the difficulty of repair and maintenance of scientific equipment in remote regions."
"It is more time and money that limit us from automating and from taking full advantage of technological progress than technological limitations that limit our efforts to reach our research objectives."†
"Ability to make long-term measurements of oceanographic phenomena."†
"The primary limitations are not technological. Inability to hire expertise is the major factor limiting research. Funding is a close second."
"Affordable access to certain analytical facilities, such as stable and radioactive isotope facilities, that require expensive instrumentation AND the trained personnel to run them. Affordable access to well-equipped small vessels capable of doing high-quality research in coastal environments."
"Oceanographers still do not have access to powerful computers. One cannot get a good answer using 100-km grids at middle latitudes. Check out what NRL Stennis is doing with 5-km grids. Many smart modelers are leaving oceanography for industry because they can't get enough computer time or infrastructure support to do meaningful work"†
Question: What kind of forums should be used to identify gaps among major oceanographic programs?
"Unless investigators are willing to put societal concerns first and subjugate their individual concerns for professional and personal advancement under the traditional reward system, no forum of any kind will be successful in integrating programs or eliminating gaps. Getting up-front participation from the communities having the major social concerns involved in the planning, approval, and implementation of programs might help."
"Survey on the web? Survey at major institutions and universities?" †
"Not a very useful exercise in directing science. Forums are probably good socially and provide an opportunity to provide a patina for good ideas, but this is not how scientific programs get started. A committee or a forum rarely has a good scientific idea; they can manage the exploration, but they can't initiate them."†
"I think this is an excellent start. Up until now there has been no comprehensive assessment of these projects. Any document coming out of these efforts will be sure to have an impact."
"Agency-sponsored workshops on specific topics (e.g., the current NSF-sponsored initiative on ocean data assimilation, with participation of WOCE, JGOFS, GLOBEC, CoOP, coordinated through the WOCE Office)."†
"Perhaps more cross-distribution of their newsletters as a start. Perhaps some evening meetings (like NSF town meetings at AGU last year) to make people aware of upcoming major developments."†
"Open meetings/workshops as well as periodic meetings in DC where the chairs of the MOPs and agency reps discuss potential coordination between programs. Perhaps review papers or symposia where authors/speakers are challenged to say what the big programs can and can not do with regard to some broader goals. For example, where does JGOFS really stand with regard to the grand question of predicting where C goes in the ocean and how this will change as the ocean changes. Very likely, the limitations will, at least in some cases, be related to gaps between programs."†