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Executive Summary As the importance of the oceans to society grows, so does the need to understand their variation, both natural and human-induced, on many temporal and spatial scales. This need to understand change in the oceans is compelling Earth and ocean scientists to move beyond the traditional expeditionary mode of investigation to make sustained, in situ observa- tions in the oceans and on the seafloor. Observing systems will enable the study of processes in the ocean basins over timescales ranging from sec- onds to decades and spatial scales from millimeters to thousands of kilo- meters, providing the scientific basis for addressing important societal concerns such as climate change, natural hazards, and the health and viability of living and non-living resources along our coasts and in the open ocean. A recent report from the National Research Council (NRC) entitled Illuminating the Hidden Planet: The Future of Seafloor Observatory Science (National Research Council, 2000) highlighted the need for long-term, fixed observatory sites in the oceans for conducting basic research to address a broad range of fundamental scientific questions. Seafloor obser- vatories will utilize cables or moored buoys and will provide power and two-way data communication and instrument control for a wide variety of sensors located at the sea surface, in the water column, and at or below the seafloor. The Hidden Planet NRC report concluded that: . . . seafloor observatories present a promising and in some cases essen- tial new approach for advancing basic research in the oceans... (Nation- al Research Council, 2000, p. 2~.
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2 ENABLING OCEAN RESEARCH IN THE 2 lST CENTURY In order to provide the U.S. ocean sciences research community with access to the basic infrastructure required to make long-term measure- ments in the oceans, the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Ocean Sci- ences Division has developed the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI). The OOI is an outgrowth of scientific planning efforts within both the national and international ocean research community over the past decade and is motivated in part by the rapidly expanding development of compu- tational, robotic, communications, and sensor capabilities. The OOI, as presently envisioned, will have three primary components: (1) a global network of deep-sea moored buoys, (2) a regional-scale cabled observa- tory, and (3) an expanded network of coastal observatories. The OOI also includes project management, data dissemination and archiving, and edu- cation and public outreach components essential to the long-term success of ocean observatory science. The National Science Board of the NSF has approved consideration of the OOI for a Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) project for a future NSF budget request. The research-focused observatories enabled by the OOI will be net- worked with and become an integral part of the proposed Integrated and Sustained Ocean Observing System (IOOS) (Ocean.US, 2002a). The IOOS is an operationally-focused system, (in the same sense as the weather forecasting system) and is supported by several U.S. agencies. IOOS is a key U.S. contribution to the international Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), which is designed to improve weather forecasts and climate predictions. The observatory network proposed under the OOI will provide new, cutting-edge capabilities to the IOOS and to the research community. In particular, the OOI will enable the collection of time-series data at critical sites that have not previously been occupied due to the lack of systems capable of operating in severe environments. In addition, the OOI will provide previously unimagined levels of power and data bandwidth for arrays of instruments on the seafloor and in the water column. These fixed observatory sites will complement other elements of the IOOS and will expand the area of the ocean and seafloor now accessible with exist- ing time-series sampling methods. STUDY SCOPE In the spring of 2002, the NSF asked the NRC to address issues related to the implementation of a seafloor observatory network for multidisci- plinary oceanographic research. In particular, the NRC was asked to: · provide advice on the design, construction, management, opera- tion, and maintenance of the network, including the need for scientific
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 3 oversight and planning, appropriately phased implementation, data man- agement, and education and outreach activities; · examine the effects of ocean observatories on the University-Na- tional Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) fleet and current sub- mersible and remotely operated vehicle (ROY) and autonomous under- water vehicle (AUV) assets in the research community; and · examine the potential role for NSF's research-based observatory network within IOOS as well as other international efforts being devel- oped and implemented primarily for operational purposes. The NRC Committee on the Implementation of a Seafloor Observa- tory Network for Oceanographic Research (Appendix A) was appointed in August of 2002 to carry out this charge. In arriving at its findings and recommendations, the NRC Committee was to consider various reports on future ocean science research priorities, ocean observatory planning documents, recommendations from several recent workshops, and input from the ocean research community. KEY ISSUES The establishment of ocean research observatories represents a major, long-term investment on behalf of the oceanographic research commu- nity. It is essential that this investment is made wisely and that these facilities support the highest quality scientific research and the most inno- vative educational and public outreach efforts. There are a number of issues that must be addressed in order to successfully implement a sea- floor observatory network for ocean research (Box ES-1. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The following findings and recommendations are based on a detailed consideration of the issues listed above. These findings and recommenda- tions are discussed in greater detail throughout this report, particularly in Chapter 7. A list of acronyms and a glossary are available for reference (Appendix B). On the Role of Research-Driven Ocean Observatories The NSF's OOI will facilitate research across a broad cross section of the ocean sciences and is part of a broader national and international effort to establish a global ocean-observing system. Ocean observatories will provide the infrastructure to collect long-term time-series data criti- cal for assessing global oceanographic issues (e.g., climate change, the
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4 ENABLING OCEAN RESEARCH IN THE 2 lST CENTURY ocean's role in the global carbon cycle, plate motions, and deep Earth structure) as well as regional issues (e.g., sediment transport, health and sustainability of fisheries, ecosystem dynamics, and interactions between organisms and their environment). Findings · By exploiting rapid advances in the development of computa- tional, robotic, communications, and sensor capabilities, the NSF's OOI will provide the infrastructure to enable a new era of ocean research in the 21st century.
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 5 · The network of research-driven ocean observatories envisioned by the OOI would facilitate major advances in basic knowledge of the oceans at a time when there is an increasing need to understand the oceans in order to address important societal concerns such as climate change, natural hazards, and the health and viability of the ocean's living and non-living resources. · The OOI will greatly improve the ability of operational ocean- observing systems such as IOOS and COOS to observe and predict ocean phenomena. Recommendations · The NSF should move ahead with funding for the OOI and estab- lish the infrastructure for a network of ocean observatories for research. · Coordination among the OOI, IOOS, and other national and international observatory efforts will be critical in the areas of infra- structure development, instrumentation, ship and ROV utilization, data management and technology transfer. Mechanisms should be put in place through the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) to facilitate coordination among the different U.S. agencies supporting ocean-observing systems. Readiness of Scientific Planning The OOI is the outgrowth of a number of discipline-based and in- terdisciplinary community-wide scientific planning efforts that have oc- curred over the past decade. It builds upon experience with existing observatories as well as several successful pilot projects. The three com- ponents of the OOI (global, regional, and coastal) are in different stages of scientific planning. Findings · The scientific motivations and benefits of research-based ocean observatories are well-defined in existing workshop reports and related documents for the three major components of the OOI: global observa- tories, regional observatories, and coastal observatories. · Scientific planning to define the location, experiments, and instrument requirements of specific observatories varies significantly among the three OOI components, and additional planning is needed before the design of these systems can be finalized. · There is currently no community consensus on the appropriate balance among relocatable observatories (Pioneer Arrays), cabled obser-
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6 ENABLING OCEAN RESEARCH IN THE 2 lST CENTURY vatories, and long-term time-series measurements needed for coastal ocean and Great Lakes research. Recommendation · A process should be instituted immediately by NSF through the Dynamics of Earth and Ocean Systems (DEOS) Steering Committee, or the OOI Program Office, once it is established, to define better the scientific goals, locations, instrument, and infrastructure requirements of specific observatories. In addition, a consensus needs to be devel- oped within the coastal research community on the appropriate balance between relocatable observatories (Pioneer Arrays), cabled observato- ries, and long-term moorings that best meet the largest range of specific requirements for coastal and Great Lakes research. Management of Observatory Construction, Installation, and Operation The OOI is an interdisciplinary and technologically complex program that will require central program management to provide coordinated, program-wide scientific planning and oversight; provide fiscal and con- tract management of observatory design, installation, maintenance and operation; establish standards and protocols for data management; and coordinate program-wide education and outreach activities. Findings · NSF policies and procedures for the MREFC account require that a single entity have overall financial and management accountability for the program. Thus, although the OOI encompasses a diverse group of researchers from many different disciplines working in both the coastal and open ocean, management of ocean observatory construction, installa- tion, and operation will have to be done through a single Program Office. · The maintenance and operation costs of the infrastructure associ- ated with the OOI could run $20-30 million annually (not including ship time). With ship time included, these costs could double, approaching $50 million per year. There are concerns in parts of the community that these costs could drain resources from other areas of ocean science and monopo- lize assets such as ships and ROVs, or that overruns in the construction and installation costs of more technically advanced observatory systems could impact the acquisition of other observatory components. · The capabilities of some proposed observatory systems raise national security issues that will need to be addressed before these systems are installed.
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Recommendations · A management model for the OOI based on that used success- fully for many years by the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) should be adopted, with some modifications. The program should be managed by a community-based organization, preferably with experience in man- aging large oceanographic research and operational programs. · The OOI Program Office, once established, should conduct a thorough systems engineering design review of each of the three OOI components; develop a detailed implementation plan and risk assess- ment for each observatory system; produce detailed cost estimates for construction, installation, maintenance, and operations; have these plans reviewed by an independent panel of experts; and put in place oversight mechanisms and fiscal controls to ensure that implementa- tion tasks are completed on time and within budget. · The OOI Program Office should develop an operations policy that addresses allocation of research time, bandwidth, and power usage among potential users for each of the three OOI components. Prioritization of proposed experiments should be based on the quality of the proposed science as judged by a peer-review process. · A successful observatory program will require sufficient fund- ing for both the operation and maintenance of the observatory infra- structure and for the science that this infrastructure will enable. The NSF needs to take appropriate steps to ensure that sufficient resources are available to meet these needs by the time the observatory infrastruc- ture is in place. · The NSF should work with the appropriate staff from the Office of the Secretary of the Navy in cooperation with the National Ocean Research Leadership Council (NORLC) to establish, as soon as pos- sible, policies addressing the national security issues raised by the potential capabilities of ocean observatories. Impact on the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System Fleet and Deep Submergence Assets The installation, operation, and maintenance of ocean observatories raise a number of issues, including the impact on the academic research fleet, the availability of deep submergence facilities and the role of indus- try in providing these assets. The primary support within the academic community for ships and ROVs is UNOLS, an organization comprised of several universities and national laboratories joined for the purpose of coordinating ship schedules and facilities for oceanographic research. Once installation has been accomplished, observatory infrastructure will require a long-term commitment of resources in order to keep it main- tained and operating.
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8 Findings ENABLING OCEAN RESEARCH IN THE 2 lST CENTURY · Ocean observatories will require substantial amounts of ship and ROV time for installation, operation, and maintenance, and will place particular demands on the scheduling of UNOLS vessels for regular servicing of observatory nodes in remote ocean locations. · There are insufficient large global-class vessels and ROVs in academia to support ocean observatory installation and maintenance needs while continuing to meet on-going expeditionary research requirements. Without a commitment from NSF to augment ship and ROV capabilities to meet these needs, the scope and success of the ocean observatories program could be jeopardized and other types of ocean research requiring these assets could be negatively affected. · The offshore energy and telecommunications industries have extensive experience in the design, deployment, and maintenance of submarine cables and large, moored platforms, and have assets (ROVs, cable laying vessels, heavy-lift vessels) that could be used for ocean observatory installation and maintenance. Recommendations · UNOLS and its Deep Submergence Science Committee (DESSC) should develop a strategic plan that identifies the most cost-effective options for supplying the required ship and ROV assets for observatory operation and maintenance and NSF should commit the necessary funds to acquire these assets. This plan should consider both the addition of new vessels and ROVs to the UNOLS fleet and the contracting or long- term leasing of commercial vessels or ROVs for observatory operations. Technical and Engineering Development Needs The infrastructure provided to research scientists through the OOI will include the cables, buoys, moorings, and junction boxes required to provide power and two-way data communication to a wide variety of interdisciplinary sensors at the sea surface, in the water column, and at or below the seafloor. The technology and engineering needed to implement the OOI is in different stages of development for the global, regional, and coastal components. Findings · The infrastructure requirements of the different OOI components (global, regional, and coastal) share many common elements, but also have important differences due to factors such as proximity to land, power and data telemetry requirements, and maintenance logistics.
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 9 · The technology already exists for certain types of observatories (e.g., low-bandwidth deep-sea buoys, coastal moored observatories, simple cabled observatories) and deployment of these systems can begin as soon as funding is available. Next-generation observatories (e.g., multi-loop, multi-node cabled observatories; high-bandwidth electro- optical-mechanical, cable-linked moorings; Arctic and Southern Ocean observatories, relocatable coastal observatories) require additional prototyping and testing of critical sub-systems, but should be technologi- cally feasible within the five-year time frame of the OOI (2006-2010~. · The availability of retired telecommunication cables may repre- sent a significant opportunity for ocean observatory science. Because the availability of these cables is a relatively recent development, it has not been factored into earlier planning of the OOI. Recommendations · In order for the more advanced moored buoy and cabled obser- vatory systems to be ready for installation in the 2006-2010 time frame, the NSF will need to provide significant levels of funding over the next 2-3 years for completion of prototyping and testing of critical sub- systems, and for the establishment of testbeds where the performance of these systems and new observatory instrumentation can be evaluated. · The technical feasibility, costs, and benefits of using retired tele- communication cables to provide power and bandwidth for some pro- posed OOI sites should be fully explored by a committee with appro- priate scientific and technical expertise. Sensors and Instrumentation for Ocean Observatories The development, calibration, and maintenance of new sensors and instrumentation for quantifying physical, chemical, biological, and geo- logical processes operating in the oceans will be a critical element in achieving the true interdisciplinary promise of ocean observatories. Sen- sors deployed at ocean observatories will need to be able to collect accu- rate, long-term data with infrequent servicing and may be required to function in extreme environments such as the Southern Ocean or the Arctic. Because of the long lead-time needed for the development and production of new sensors, this effort will need to begin well in advance of the completion of observatory installation. Findings · While a number of observatory-capable physical, geophysical, and big-optical sensors are available, a very limited number of sensors
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10 ENABLING OCEAN RESEARCH IN THE 2 lST CENTURY exist for making chemical and biological measurements at ocean obser- vatories, or for making observations in more challenging environments such as the Southern Ocean or the Arctic. Biofouling and corrosion remain major impediments to making long-term unattended measure- ments in the oceans. · The total investment in sensors and instrumentation that will eventually be made for use with the observatory systems acquired through the OOI over its first decade of operation could approach the cost of the basic infrastructure itself. The core suite of instrumentation that will be funded through the MREFC will represent only a small portion of this total. · To ensure the comparability of measurements made at different OOI observatories, and to realize their full potential for research and to observing networks, observatory sensors will need to be calibrated according to international standards. · The installation and maintenance of ocean observatories, and the conduct of complementary studies, will require a number of highly trained marine technical support staff that greatly exceeds existing per- sonnel resources. In addition, observatory operation will place signifi- cant demands on instrumentation inventories and resources, including maintenance and calibration facilities. Recommendations · A core suite of instruments should be installed on every observa- tory node and funded as part of the basic observatory infrastructure, not only to test system functionality, but also to provide the essential scientific context for the observatory's effective use in basic research. · A separate, well-funded observatory instrumentation program at the NSF, and contributions from other agencies with an interest in ocean research, will be required to obtain the full suite of sensors and instru- ments needed to fully exploit the scientific potential of the ocean obser- vatory infrastructure. · The NSF should augment its programs in instrumentation devel- opment, support, and calibration for observatory-capable sensors, includ- ing increasing grant duration to ensure that instrumentation groups have the capability to support the needs of the OOI. High priorities include the development of chemical and biological sensors, sensors less subject to biofouling and corrosion, sensors capable of surviving in more extreme environments, and more accurate sensors. · The NSF should work with other agencies engaged in long-term ocean observations to ensure that the national resources for instrumen-
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1 1 tation, maintenance and calibration facilities, and technical staff are in place and have the necessary funding stability to support the OOI. Data Management for Ocean Observatories The instruments deployed on ocean observatories are expected to collect vast amounts of data, which must be transferred back to shore in an efficient, reliable, and timely manner. The effective use of ocean obser- vatories for research, education, and public outreach will require a sys- tem for acquiring, processing, distributing, and archiving vast volumes of data from many different disciplines, much of it in real-time. Finding · While archive centers exist for some data types that will be col- lected by ocean observatories, they do not exist for others. Without a coordinated data management and archiving system, data obtained at ocean observatories may not be generally available due to a lack of data standards, quality control, or centralized archives, and the great scientific and educational potential of ocean observatories may not be realized. Recommendations · The NSF should work with other interested agencies in the U.S. and other nations that are involved with establishing ocean-observing systems in order to ensure that centers are established and funded to process and archive data collected by ocean observatories, and to make these data readily accessible for basic research, for operational needs, and to the general public. · The OOI program should have an open data policy with data from all core instrumentation and community experiments made pub- licly available in as near real-time as possible. · Standards for data interchange, for data and metadata formats, and for archiving methods should be established for all types of ocean observatories and should be coordinated and integrated with other research-based international observatory efforts, IOOS, and COOS. Education and Public Outreach for Ocean Observatories There is a critical need to improve the science literacy of the general public and to improve the teaching of science at grade levels K-12. The multidisciplinary nature of ocean science provides a wonderful opportu- nity to illustrate basic science principles and their application to problems
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12 ENABLING OCEAN RESEARCH IN THE 2 lST CENTURY of broad societal interest, such as the ocean's role in climate change. Ocean observatories, with their advanced instrumentation and capacity for real- time data transfer, offer excellent opportunities for public outreach and innovative educational programs. They also offer the chance to foster interdisciplinary research for a new generation of students and ocean scientists. Finding · Seafloor observatories will provide unique opportunities for education and public outreach (EPO) by utilizing real-time data through the interactivity of the Internet to help students, teachers, and the gen- eral public understand the relevance and excitement of ocean research to their everyday lives. Recommendations · Education and public outreach activities for observatory science should be coordinated at the program level by a professional staff sup- ported by funding at both the program and project level. Observatory education programs should be designed to meet National Science Education Standards, and carried out as a collaborative effort with the National Sea Grant Program and with the Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence (COSEE). · The NSF or the OOI Program Office, once it is established, should solicit proposals for a workshop to address the EPO issues raised in this report and to develop a specific EPO implementation plan for ocean research observatories, including recommending a budget for EPO activities.
Representative terms from entire chapter: