The significance of the ocean for climate, navigation, fishing, recreation, and as a natural resource has been known for centuries. The ocean covers nearly three-quarters of the globe, redistributes a significant portion of the heat from solar irradiation poleward (Macdonald and Wunsch, 1996), and sequesters about 30% of industrial carbon-dioxide emissions (Takahashi et. al., 1997). Ninety-nine percent (by weight) of U.S. transport (valued at nearly $500 billion per year)1 is conveyed by ship; and, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, commercial fishing contributes nearly $50 billion to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) each year (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1992). The ocean contains vast untapped mineral and energy resources and is enjoyed by millions of people for swimming, boating, and other recreational activities, and has been a major factor in our national security.
Since the end of the cold war there has been a re-focusing of this nation's interests in the ocean toward issues such as the effects of coastal pollution on human health and the economy and the ocean's role in climate change (natural and anthropogenic). Some of these issues center around processes that operate over long time periods or over great expanses of the ocean, land, and atmosphere. Understanding these processes requires a collective and organized effort beyond the capabilities of individual or even small groups of scientific investigators. Consequently, over the last few decades, greater time and effort has gone into the development of large scientific initiatives that operate with funds provided by
http://www.ngs.noaa.gov/~efry/psntides.htm April 27, 1998
multiple sponsors, commonly acting under the leadership of a small group of scientists that form a scientific steering committee. Large initiatives such as these that examine the ocean or ocean-related processes, are referred to as major oceanographic programs. These programs have grown to account for a significant source of funding for basic oceanographic research in this country. For example, within the Ocean Sciences Division of the National Science Foundation (NSF/OCE; the largest sponsor of basic oceanographic research in the United States in terms of the number of principal investigators funded), major oceanographic programs account for at least 40 percent of funds expended. NSF/OCE plays a significant role in nearly all of the major oceanographic programs because it funds the majority of proposals submitted by academic scientists who participate in these programs.
These programs play a prominent role in both this country's efforts to understand the environmental processes that influence the quality of our individual lives and in the lives of those who study such processes. This makes major programs of particular significance to the scientists, policymakers, and administrators who make up what is often referred to as the ocean science community. In many ways, these major programs are inexorably linked to this nation's ability to understand and protect our environment and the wealth of resources it contains.
Focus Of This Study
In response to a request by NSF/OCE for input from the National Research Council (NRC), the Committee on Major U.S. Oceanographic Research Programs was formed to evaluate the impact of the past and present programs and provide advice on how these programs should be developed and managed in the future (Box 1-1). Implicit in the committee's charge is the recognition that the ability to organize and implement large, coordinated efforts to conduct basic oceanographic research (such as the programs discussed in this report) is, and must be, an essential component of the scientific capability of the United States. The committee also recognizes the importance of contributions made by individual or small groups of scientists conducting basic research outside of these programs. The challenge, in its simplest form, is to provide the federal agencies, the research community, and the nation itself with the tools needed to strike a balance (based on scientific requirements) between:
supporting sustainable and efficient research into processes that operate on such large spatial scales or over such long time frames that satisfactory results cannot be obtained by small groups of investigators or individual scientists; and
encouraging and nurturing the individual creativity and the scientific diversity that has been the hallmark of research funded through the unsolicited
Box 1-1 Statement of Task
The Committee on Major U.S. Oceanographic Research Programs will foster coordination among the major programs and examine their role in oceanographic research. Specifically, the committee will:
proposal system that has served the discipline2 programs of the NSF/OCE since its earliest years.
This study was sponsored by both NSF and the Office of Naval Research (ONR), yet both sponsors and the committee agreed that the major emphasis of the committee's efforts should be directed toward examining major programs within which NSF plays a significant role. This emphasis on a generic examination of major programs with a focus on NSF's involvement, reflects both the resources and time available to the committee, and the recognition of the wide effect these programs have on that component of the ocean science community that conducts basic research with funds provided by NSF. As will be emphasized throughout the report, these major programs are supported by several federal agencies, with each agency participating to a varying degree in each program. Although the level of involvement of the various federal mission agencies is critical in many instances, it varies greatly from program to program. Conversely, NSF/OCE funding is a significant component of nearly all the ongoing major oceanographic programs in which the United States participates. Thus, although many of the findings and recommendations in this report may refer to the major oceanographic programs and their sponsors in general, a significant subset of the recommendations are directed specifically to NSF/OCE.
The Committee's Approach
The Committee on Major U.S. Oceanographic Research Programs realized that the impact of the major programs is felt by ocean scientists throughout the United States, whether they are involved directly in the programs or not. For example, every three years the NSF Advisory Committee on Geosciences forms a Committee of Visitors to examine various aspects of ocean research funded through NSF/OCE. Since 1989, these Committees of Visitors have produced 3 reports (1989, 1993, and 1995), which have raised, to varying degrees, questions related to the growing emphasis on major programs within NSF/OCE. In addition, perspectives about these programs are as diverse as the natural processes they were designed to study. Thus the impacts, legacies, and value of these programs cannot be easily gauged without thorough review. Conversely, the size and complexity of the programs (i.e., number of sponsors, the number of principal investigators, the number field programs), and the various degrees of maturity of the programs presented a formidable challenge to the study.
As will be evident in the following chapters, a detailed analysis of any one existing program would involve the collection and assimilation of a large amount of information (for example, the U.S. component of the World Ocean Circulation Experiment [WOCE] program, one of the more mature of the ongoing programs, lists nearly 600 publication titles on its databases, coordinates activities of over 250 separately funded projects involving over 125 different investigators, and received funds or in-kind contributions from five different federal agencies). The U.S. WOCE program office and its counterpart at the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) were able to provide a range of program-wide information. Similar information was not readily available from other programs, making side-by-side comparison of various existing programs difficult. Furthermore, although ODP and its predecessors have been operating for multiple decades, many of the other ongoing programs began 5 or 6 years ago and are several years from their planned conclusion. Both sponsors and the committee agreed that an examination that emphasized a selected subset of the existing programs should be conducted so as to draw general conclusions about the impact and value of the large programs on our understanding of the ocean.
Identification of Data and Information Required
Early in its deliberations, the committee recognized that a highly diverse set of information would be required to support any meaningful findings or recommendations regarding such a complex or controversial topic as the role of large, organized research programs in the study of the ocean. Budgetary information would be needed to understand the value that federal funding agencies placed on these programs, as would funding histories to understand how funds were used to support research efforts. The goals of each program and the scientific plans to achieve those goals would have to be specified, as would the scientific philosophies and views of the scientific steering committees and nonprogram scientists.
Consequently, the committee determined that a structured approach to its charge would provide the best possibility for the successful collection, collation, and interpretation of the vast and diverse information required. The statement of task was consequently divided into four components tasks, which were then assigned to four subgroups of the committee. The committee subgroups then framed a series of questions that each felt would need to be addressed before the committee, as a whole, would be able to provide useful findings and recommendations. These questions provided the philosophical framework used to identify needed information. The information required to address the committee's charge fell into four broad categories: (1) program goals and practices, (2) program accomplishments, (3) funding information (including patterns of agency support and disbursement of research funds), and (4) community perspectives (including those of ocean scientists highly involved in various major programs, ocean scientists not involved in major programs of any sort, and representatives of agencies involved in major programs).
Collection of Relevant Data and Information
Having identified the needed information, the committee set about collecting it through a variety of mechanisms, including formal requests for information from federal agencies that fund major oceanographic programs, an evaluation of the existing literature, and the distribution of three questionnaires (Appendices C, D, and E) targeted to (1) chairs of the subset of major programs discussed below, (2) steering committees of the same subset of major programs, and (3) a publicly available questionnaire accessible on the World Wide Web.
The committee did a systematic analysis of the U.S. components of a subset of programs that included the CLImate VARiability and Predictability (CLIVAR) program, the Coastal Ocean Processes (CoOP) program, the Global Ocean Ecosystems Dynamics (GLOBEC) program, the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS), the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP), the Ridge Inter-Disciplinary Global Experiments (RIDGE), the Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere (TOGA) program, and the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE; see Box 1-2). These programs were selected to encompass as wide a spectrum as possible as regards discipline (biological, chemical, physics, and marine geology and geophysics), amount of interdisciplinary focus,3 spatial scale (coastal, global), and stage of development
Box 1-2 Major Oceanographic Programs Examined in This Study
CLImate VARiability and Predictability (CLIVAR) program strives for smooth continuity with terminating World Climate Research Program (WCRP) programs Tropical Oceans and Global Atmosphere program (TOGA), which was officially completed in 1994, and the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE), whose field work ends with a 1996-98 Atlantic Ocean experiment. The concept of CLIVAR rose from the recognition that observed climate variations result from natural variability superimposed on long-term trends that may be induced by anthropogenic modifications of the global environment and other external forcing factors. CLIVAR is organized into three component program: CLIVAR-GOALS—a study of seasonal-to-interannual climate variability and predictability of the global ocean-atmosphere-land system; CLIVAR-DecCen—a study of decadal to centennial climate variability and predictability, and: CLIVAR-ACC—modeling and detection of anthropogenic climate change.
Coastal Ocean Processes (CoOP) is a program that seeks to increase our quantitative understanding of the cross margin transport of biogeochemical material. CoOP encompasses the disciplines of biological, chemical, geological, and physical oceanography, plus marine meteorology. CoOP process studies will characterize cross margin transport on shelves where different physical mechanisms dominate (i.e. wind-driven transport, buoyancy-driven transport, western boundary current interactions, ice-covered shelves).
Global Ocean Ecosystems Dynamics (GLOBEC) is a research initiative called for by the oceanographic, marine ecology, and fisheries communities to address the question: what will be the impact of changes in our global environment on populations and communities of marine animals comprising marine ecosystems? The U.S. GLOBEC approach is to develop basic information about the mechanisms that determine the variability of marine animal populations. Through such understanding, scientists can produce reliable predictions of population changes in the face of a shifting global environment. Investigations are proceeding at individual, population, and community levels since the effects of global change may be felt at all three.
Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS) is a multi-investigator program organized to investigate fluxes of carbon and related biogenic elements between air and sea and in the ocean. Each year some 40 percent of CO2 generated by burning fossil fuels are added to the atmosphere and transferred to the sea. The imprint of this signal provides a significant perturbation of ocean chemistry. The build up of atmospheric CO2 can enhance greenhouse effects, which may contribute to global alterations in temperature, sea level height, river runoff, and sediment flow.
Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) is an international partnership of scientists and research institutions organized to explore the evolution and structure of Earth. ODP provides researchers around the world access to a vast repository of geological and environmental information recorded far below the ocean surface in seafloor sediments and rocks. By studying ODP data scientists gain a better understanding of Earth's past, present, and future.
Ridge Inter-Disciplinary Global Experiments (RIDGE) is an initiative designed to integrate exploration, experimentation, and theoretical modeling into a major research effort to understand the geophysical, geochemical, and geobiological causes and consequences of the energy transfer in the global rift system through time. Its long-term strategy is to obtain a sufficiently detailed spatial and temporal definition of the global mid-ocean ridge system to construct quantitative, testable models of how the system works, including the complex interactions among the magmatic, tectonic, hydrothermal, and biological processes associated with crustal formation. RIDGE program components are therefore intrinsically interdisciplinary and are intended to complement existing ridge crest research by emphasizing an integrated, investigative approach that can be accomplished only with high levels of coordination.
The Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere (TOGA) program was a major component of the World Climate Research Program (WCRP) aimed at the prediction of climate phenomena on time scales of months to years. Underlying TOGA was the premise that the dynamic adjustment of the ocean in the tropics is far more rapid than at higher latitudes. Thus, disturbances emanating from the western Pacific Ocean (such as EI Niño) may propagate across the basin on time scales of weeks as compared to years for corresponding basin-wide propagation at higher latitudes. The significance of shorter dynamic time scales near the equator is that they are similar to those of highly energetic atmospheric models. This similarity allows the formation of coupled modes between the ocean and the atmosphere. TOGA also demonstrated the predictability of EI Niño and developed the observational and modeling capability for skillful experimental predictions.
World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) is an effort by scientists from more than 20 nations to study the large-scale circulation of the ocean. WOCE has employed several satellites, dozens of ships, and thousands of instruments to obtain a basic description of the physical properties and circulation of the global ocean during 1990-1998. WOCE also has supported regional experiments, the knowledge from which should improve circulation models, and it is exploring design criteria for long-term measurements with which to assess the representativeness of the global "snapshot." This knowledge is intended to help unravel the role of ocean circulation in decadal-scale climate change; the data obtained will help develop models for the prediction of such change. The analysis, interpretation, modeling and synthesis phase of WOCE will last from now through at least 2002.
(e.g., CLIVAR is still largely in the planning stage, CoOP, GLOBEC, and RIDGE are in the field phase; JGOFS and WOCE have entered the synthesis phase; and TOGA has been completed). Of the programs mentioned, CoOP is the only program not associated with the U.S. Global Change Research Program. This subset of programs studies processes that range in duration from days to millions of years. Although many of the programs are primarily sponsored by NSF/OCE, some specific programs, such as WOCE, were chosen that involved additional funding by other agencies including ONR, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) (Fig. 1-1). Although many of the programs fall under international umbrella programs such as the World Climate Research Program (e.g., TOGA, WOCE) and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (e.g., JGOFS, GLOBEC), this report, in keeping with the committee's charge, focuses on U.S. efforts.
Requests for community input via a questionnaire available on the World Wide Web were made through a variety of means, including articles in EOS (a widely read, weekly publication of the American Geophysical Union), the Newsletter of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO), and over a half-dozen electronic bulletin boards and Internet list servers (e.g., Hydrowire and Sciencenet). In addition, electronic links were established between the
questionnaire and the home pages of the NSF's Ocean Sciences Division, the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education, and a number of the major oceanographic programs. Furthermore, in an effort to enhance information sharing and coordination among the ongoing programs (a component of the first part of the committee's statement of task) and as a way of eliciting great input from various members of the research community, the committee held half-day sessions during its open meetings on topics of mutual interest to many of the ongoing programs. Information from all sources formed the quantitative, qualitative, and anecdotal backbone of the committee's approach to its task. In many circumstances this information was augmented by the extensive experience of the committee members themselves (Appendix A).
Scope of This Report
Central to maintaining a healthy balance between support for large research initiatives, such as the major oceanographic programs, and research carried out by individual or small groups of investigators, is the need to identify the compelling scientific challenges and determine the appropriate level of effort to meet each. At present, NSF/OCE has organized a separate group of efforts specifically charged with identifying the most compelling scientific challenges facing the ocean science community.4 In addition, NSF/OCE will be receiving input from a Committee of Visitors, scheduled to meet during the fall of 1998. Global Ocean Science: Toward an Integrated Approach, by focusing on the impacts and legacies of major programs and providing recommendations about how these programs should be planned, structured, and organized, is designed to complement and support these efforts to formulate the long-range strategy for ocean science funding at NSF.
The committee agreed that recommending a specific ratio in the balance of funding between major research programs and unsolicited proposals within the core ocean science disciplines would be of limited value. The intent of the report is therefore to provide the tools needed to help the federal agencies, especially NSF/OCE, continually adjust the mix while minimizing any adverse impact these decisions may have on the ability of the ocean science community to maintain the high standard of scientific achievement that has marked its past. Chapter 2 provides an historical perspective of the development of major oceanographic programs and is intended to provide additional context for the study to readers less familiar with this approach to oceanographic research. Chapter 3 discusses how many of the ongoing programs interact and suggests ways to improve coordination among them. Chapter 4 discusses the impacts and legacies of past and ongoing programs. Chapters 5, 6, and 7 use the information about the major
These organized efforts are more fully discussed in Chapter 5.
programs described in Chapters 3 and 4 to: (1) recommend a broadening of the NSF structure to respond to a more diverse spectrum of interdisciplinary multi-investigator programs; (2) recommend how future programs should be structured; and possibly most importantly, (3) recommend mechanisms to identify scientific challenges meriting the tremendous effort represented by major research programs.