Enhancing Coordination and Information Sharing
Addressing the large-scale scientific challenges that are the focus of most of the ongoing major oceanographic programs requires considerable and varied human and physical resources. Effective use of these resources is critical to ensuring that the investment made by the government and citizens of the United States is returning a maximum yield of scientific understanding. The first task of the committee's charge (Box 3-1) refers directly to the challenge to, "enhance information sharing and coordinated implementation. …" Consequently, this chapter will emphasize a review of the goals and plans of the ongoing programs (Box 3-2) and make suggestions for facilitating more effective communication and coordination in the short-term.
Development Of Long- And Short-Term Research Goals
Most major oceanographic programs followed a similar path to the development of short- and long-term1 research goals. Generally, community workshops provided the necessary input for scientific steering committees to develop science plans. National science plans often reflected the themes of international programs, as in the case of WOCE and JGOFS. Conversely, in many instances U.S. national plans developed into international programs. In general, these
Box 3-1 Study Approach for Task Group 1
Task 1) The Committee will enhance information sharing and coordinated implementation of the research plans of the major ongoing and future programs.
Question 1a: Can joint development of the short- and long-term goals of the major programs lead to enhanced coordination and implementation of current and future research plans?
Question 1b: Can coordination between the major programs be enhanced now and in the future?
Box 3-2 Focus and Goals of the Major Oceanographic Programs Considered in This Study
CLIMATE VARIABILITY AND PREDICTABILITY (CLIVAR)
Focus: Studies investigating natural climate variability and predictability and the response of the climate system to anthropogenic forcing.
Goal: To describe and understand the physical processes responsible for climate variability and predictability on seasonal, interannual, decadal, and centennial time scales, through the collection and analysis of observations and the development and application of models of the coupled climate system, in cooperation with other relevant climate-research and observing programs.
COASTAL OCEAN PROCESSES (CoOP)
Focus: Interdisciplinary studies on continental shelves where different physical mechanisms (e.g., wind, tides, ice, river discharge) control cross-margin transport.
Goal: Increase our quantitative understanding of the processes that dominate the transports, transformations, and fates of biologically, chemically, and geologically important matter on the continental margins.
GLOBAL OCEAN ECOSYSTEM DYNAMICS (GLOBEC) PROGRAM
Focus: Studies elucidating how changing climate alters the physical environment of the ocean and how this in turn affects marine animals, especially zooplankton and fish.
Goal: To predict the effects of changes in the global environment on the abundance, variation in abundance, and production of marine animals.
JOINT GLOBAL OCEAN FLUX STUDY (JGOFS)
Focus: Studies investigating the role of marine organisms and chemistry in modulating global climate change.
Goal: To gain a better understanding of how carbon dioxide is exchanged between the atmosphere and the surface ocean and how carbon is transferred to the deep-sea.
OCEAN DRILLING PROGRAM (ODP)
Focus: Collection and analysis of deep-sea cores from around the world to help reconstruct the paleographic record of past climatic and oceanic conditions.
Goal: To reconstruct the Earth's paleoceanography and more importantly to begin to understand the mechanisms that drive changes in climate and oceanic conditions.
RIDGE INTER-DISCIPLINARY GLOBAL EXPERIMENTS (RIDGE)
Focus: Integrated observational, experimental, and theoretical studies to determine the primary processes that have shaped the evolution of our planet, and the long-term temporal variations that may have modified the past climate of Earth.
Goal: To understand the causes and predict the consequences of physical, chemical, and biological fluxes in the global spreading center system.
TROPICAL OCEAN-GLOBAL ATMOSPHERE (TOGA) PROGRAM
Focus: Studies describing the interactions between the tropical oceans and the global atmosphere, especially the El Niño-Southern Oscillation.
Goal: To model the ocean-atmosphere system for the purpose of predicting its variations.
WORLD OCEAN CIRCULATION EXPERIMENT (WOCE)
Focus: Studies of the surface and subsurface circulation of the global ocean.
Goal: To understand ocean circulation well enough to model its present state, predict its future state, and predict feedback between climate change and ocean circulation.
research plans were initially reviewed by scientists and federal agency representatives. In addition, some major oceanographic programs solicited input from outside review committees as their programs developed.
Once research goals were agreed upon, implementation plans were developed. These plans and the sequencing of research efforts were driven by a variety of factors, including scientific, logistic, and fiscal factors. The scope of any research effort is ultimately determined by the available funding; thus, funding levels influenced to a large degree when and where the research components of major programs were conducted. In some instances, ship availability may also have influenced when and where major program research was performed (especially in the late 1980s and early 1990s). This restricted availability was alleviated, in part, by the construction of four new class I UNOLS (University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System) vessels, including the R/V Ron Brown operated by NOAA.
Implementation plans and the sequencing of research efforts of international major oceanographic programs often were developed in reference to the plans of other nations. These efforts were more or less successful depending on how closely actual funding levels matched projected levels. There are many examples where international major oceanographic program efforts were well coordinated; however, in some cases, U.S. efforts were not coordinated well with other countries due to the inability of all partners to maintain funding projections.
Coordination of short- and long-term research between major programs has been difficult to achieve. Differences in sequencing of the programs, funding levels, international agreements, research objectives, and communication are factors that have contributed to this lack of coordination. Although WOCE and JGOFS coordinated their efforts in the Indian Ocean, this coordination did not occur in the equatorial Pacific or North Atlantic. GLOBEC had planned to work with JGOFS in the Arabian Sea, but there were no funds to conduct the study. When major oceanographic programs have coordinated their research it has been through the efforts of scientific steering committees and program managers.
Coordination Of Major Field Programs
Coordination of major program field activities was (and will be) affected by funding cycles. The current major programs had starting dates for funding that differed by as much as seven years (Figs. 3-1a and b). This will continue to be the case in the future as programs phase in and out and as ideas continue to develop. Although some opportunities were missed, there were also examples of joint observational studies. Several instances occurred where joint field efforts were successful. These successes provide useful insights into how the coordination of large field programs can be improved.
Because of their earlier start dates, WOCE, JGOFS, and RIDGE (along with TOGA) were the only programs to have any funding in place in 1987 (Figs. 3-1a
and b; these funds were largely used for program development). The development of each of these programs involved a series of conferences to identify the program objectives and field targets, develop implementation plans, and standardize measurement and sampling protocols. Increases in their budgets began in FY 1989 and, for WOCE and JGOFS, continued to FY 1994. These increases paralleled increases in the budget of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). The NSF budget for the RIDGE program increased significantly in FY 1991, but has remained essentially level since then.
The initial funding for GLOBEC began in 1989. In FY 1992, synchronous with an increase in GLOBEC funding. CoOP funding began. These two programs have since followed a similar increasing funding history, while funding for the other earlier programs has leveled off. The two earliest large programs. WOCE and JGOES have garnered the largest share of the money spent by NSF on major ocean programs. This more robust support can be attributed to two factors. First, the goals were easily identified with the goals of the USGCRP since they were asking (and attempting to answer) fundamental questions about
the way the climate system operates. Second. these programs were the farthest along in planning when increased funding for global change research became available.
WOCE and JGOFS each had field programs of large scope and cost (Figure 3-2). and expenditures related to the field programs accounted for more than 90 percent of the budgets early on. But because WOCE and JGOFS had different research goals, and thus approaches, only part of their field programs overlapped in time and space. Specifically, WOCE had as one of its goals a one-time survey of the oceans with global coverage. JGOFS. on the other hand, focused on process studies in four specific regions in an attempt to constrain biogeochemical processes. Each of these programs turned out to be significant users of UNOLS ships (see Figure 3-2), but the extensive sampling requirements of each program made it difficult to share ships. An exception was the accommodation of JGOFS participants involved in the global carbon inventory on WOCE one-time survey cruises.
GLOBEC and CoOP had few opportunities to engage in joint planning with WOCE and JGOFS because of their later inception. On the other hand, GLOBEC
and CoOP have been quite successful in executing joint planning exercises. These programs are following nearly the same time line, and the scientific steering committees meet together regularly. They have produced a joint announcement of research opportunities for modeling the physical and biological processes in the upwelling systems along the west coast of the United States in anticipation of joint field work there in 1999.
In summary, although there are several examples of successful coordination of field activities across the major programs, the very different starting dates and different degrees of readiness of the large programs, and the nature of the sampling they required, often inhibited collaboration. Even when joint planning occurred, funding decisions (or lack of funds) may have prohibited successful execution of the joint plans. Where appropriate, joint planning and better communication among the large programs would help to encourage collaboration and likely would provide for more cost-effective use of facilities.
Coordination Of Synthesis Activities
Like the field programs, synthesis activities will benefit from coordination among programs. The legacy of many major oceanographic programs will include
their unprecedented data sets (e.g., global coverage, high space-time resolution, multiparameter variables, and long-time series). Maximum use of these data, often beyond the planned scope of the individual program, must be encouraged and facilitated. When appropriate, joint Announcements of Opportunity (AOs) for inter-program synthesis should be issued. Ideas for joint AOs could come from SSCs working together. These joint AOs could focus synthesis on interdisciplinary topics and foster future interdisciplinary research when appropriate.
For a successful synthesis, it is essential to preserve and ensure timely access to the data sets developed as part of each program's activities. As stated in NSF policy (NSF 94-126. Appendix G), data must be submitted to national data centers no later than two years after the data are collected. Archived data should also include models and model products. The repositories of major ocean program data should be the appropriate national facility (i.e., the National Oceanographic Data Center, National Climatic Data Center, National Geophysical Data Center, National Snow and Ice Data Center, or the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center). It is in the best interests of the oceanographic research community that these national data centers accommodate the varied types of data and models generated by the major ocean programs. The sponsors and steering committees of the major oceanographic programs should work with the federal agencies and these national data centers to implement oversight procedures to periodically review the utility and responsiveness of these centers to the user community.
Lessons From Existing Programs
A characteristic common to all major oceanographic programs is a commitment to contribute in a significant way to a more complete understanding of fundamental earth system processes. They have developed contrasting investigative strategies and implementation plans, depending on the character of the scientific questions that major oceanographic programs have addressed. Some major oceanographic programs have required a series of synoptic measurements at a large-scale to achieve their scientific goals (e.g., WOCE, JGOFS, and GLOBEC); others have been dependent on the sequencing and integration of a host of programs designed to contribute to the solution of an overarching interdisciplinary problem (e.g., RIDGE and CoOP). Yet another, ODP, has used a unique investigative facility, a drilling platform, that brings together a research community with diverse research interests and creates an integrated research endeavor. Even though each major oceanographic program has been configured to meet its particular research goals, each one has shared a similar set of programmatic requirements that must be fulfilled if the major program is to attain its full potential.
When questioned about specifics of program organization. SSC questionnaire respondents mentioned similar requirements time and time again regardless
of their program affiliation. Rather than catalogue a list of the things that worked (and did not work) for a specific major oceanographic program in the past, these data have been used to create a set of guidelines to frame the development of major programs in the future. These guidelines include the following (discussed in detail in Chapters 4, 5, and 6):
- Hypothesis-driven science and an integration of models and theoretical considerations are important concepts to establish, especially during the initial developmental stages of a major oceanographic program.
- The definition of the major oceanographic program's Long-Range Science Plan (LRP) and the proposed scientific achievements can link program goals to the resources that are likely to be available. Establishing a realistic program definition requires an engaged dialogue between funding agencies, the Scientific Steering Committee, and the research community. The implementation plan can then take into account the setting of priorities and have a mechanism in place to adjust to reduced resources or slower growth.
- It is important that the LRP map out a robust, compelling, and clear implementation plan, as well as recognize the likelihood of, and plan for, evolutionary changes in emphasis that are based on the initial results of the major oceanographic program.
- In order to maintain support from the research community, the science of a major oceanographic program's LRP must rest on a foundation of the broadest possible community base. The development of the most accepted and scientifically engaging major oceanographic programs has been characterized by workshop-generated advice, or similar scientific input into the process of defining science and setting priorities.
- As a major oceanographic program meets critical programmatic milestones, a process must be in place that permits communication of results and allows for community feedback.
- Once a major oceanographic program is well under way, a component of the Scientific Steering Committee should be replaced, making it easier for the steering committee to embrace change while preserving ''institutional memory" and allowing the program to maintain momentum.
- The steering committee should be distanced from the proposal review process and major oceanographic program proposals should be subjected to the same level of peer review that characterizes individual investigator-generated proposals in the core NSF/OCE programs. It is critical, however, that the steering committee, or its designee, establish a relevancy review process to ensure that there is a good match between the goals of the major oceanographic program and the science that is eventually funded.
- A clear distinction must be made between proposals solicited to collect specific and required core program measurements and those solicited to stimulate innovative scientific research. The overall effectiveness of a complex science
- For a program to retain the support of the ocean science community, a process to review a program's effectiveness must be established at the outset, thereby assuring that the major oceanographic program can benefit from constructive criticism and that programmatic problems are not perpetuated for the life of the program.
- Major oceanographic programs require a greater involvement of leadership, both in the program and at the program manager level in the funding agency or agencies, than the community is used to for the smaller projects that have been traditionally funded by agency core programs. It is the program manager and the major oceanographic program leadership who are tracking program progress on a continuous basis and who are vested with the responsibility for implementing corrective procedures. This committed management style is able to address problems proactively relative to data management and dissemination, field program logistics, interdisciplinary linkages, programmatic balance, strategic planning, project adherence, and community communication before these issues become contentious.
plan can be significantly and adversely impacted when core measurements are not collected in an efficient and timely manner. The funding of the core measurement collection must not be hampered because of the apparent routine nature of this activity.
By definition, the scientific goals of major oceanographic programs are broad and cross disciplinary boundaries. This often results in casting a net greater than the programmatic venue of a given manager in a funding agency and often greater than the mission of a single agency. The attainment of the goals of an interdisciplinary major oceanographic program can be in jeopardy from the very beginning if the level of commitment between programs within an agency, as well as between agencies, is not clearly established and the mechanisms to assure collaboration are not rigorously defined and agreed to by all parties.
Better communication, planning, and cooperation among major oceanographic programs would serve to maximize the efficient use of resources, facilitate interdisciplinary synthesis, and enhance the understanding of oceanographic processes. In the past, communication among major ocean programs has not been well established. A number of different mechanisms should be implemented to facilitate communication among the ongoing major ocean programs, including:
- Annual meetings of scientific steering committee (SSC) chairs and annual presentation of progress reports and plans to the broader ocean science community as a means of communication and to help in planning;
- Joint SSC meetings, as appropriate, to enhance information sharing and coordination of implementation plans;
- Attendance, as appropriate, of major ocean program program representatives
- Circulation of SSC meeting minutes to other major ocean programs.
- Exchange of newsletters among major ocean programs;
- Maintenance of a timeline of research, modeling, and synthesis activities on major ocean program websites; and
- Joint hosting of "town meetings" by SSCs of ongoing programs at national science meetings to inform the scientific community of research activities and plans, as well as to receive input from that community.
and their sponsoring agencies at SSC meetings of other major ocean programs;