Summary

The United States has jurisdiction over 3.4 million square miles of ocean in its exclusive economic zone, a size exceeding the combined land area of the 50 states. This expansive marine area represents a prime national domain for activities such as maritime transportation, national security, energy and mineral extraction, fisheries and aquaculture, and tourism and recreation. However, it also carries with it the threat of damaging tsunamis and hurricanes, industrial accidents, and outbreaks of waterborne pathogens. The 2010 Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami are vivid reminders that ocean activities and processes have direct human implications both nationally and worldwide, understanding of the ocean system is still incomplete, and ocean research infrastructure is needed to support both fundamental research and societal priorities.

In 2004, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy report, An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century, called for “a renewed commitment to ocean science and technology” to realize the benefits of the ocean while ensuring its sustainability for future generations. Since the release of the Commission’s report, federal agencies have been working together through the National Science and Technology Council’s Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology (SOST), which has the mandate to identify research priorities, facilitate coordination of ocean research, and develop ocean technology and infrastructure. This study was initiated to assist SOST in planning for the nation’s ocean research infrastructure needs in 2030 by identifying major research questions anticipated to be at the forefront of ocean science in 2030, defining categories of infrastructure that should be included in next-generation planning, providing advice on criteria that could be used to set priorities for asset development or replacement, recommending ways in which the federal agencies could maximize the value of ocean infrastructure investments, and addressing societal issues. It is also intended to complement efforts in support of the National Ocean Council, which was established to implement the National Ocean Policy outlined in the Final Recommendations of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force (Executive Order 13547, July 19, 2010).

Ocean research infrastructure supports both fundamental and applied scientific research that addresses urgent societal concerns such as climate change, human health, domestic offshore energy production, national security, marine shipping, tsunami detection and severe storm tracking, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture growth, and changes in marine ecosystem services. However, significant components of national infrastructure are aged, obsolete, or insufficient to meet growing societal demand for scientific information to enable safe, efficient, and environmentally sustainable use of the ocean. A comprehensive range of ocean research infrastructure will be needed to overcome these challenges, and more interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research will require a growing suite of infrastructure. Current institutional barriers have inhibited collaborative efforts among federal agencies to plan for the operation and maintenance of major, high-cost, critical infrastructure assets such as ships, satellites, and global observing systems.


Recommendation: Federal ocean agencies should establish and maintain a coordinated national strategic plan for critical shared ocean infrastructure investment, maintenance, and retirement. Such a plan should focus on trends in scientific needs and advances in technology, while taking into consideration life-cycle costs, efficient use, surge capacity for unforeseen events, and new opportunities or national needs. The plan should be based upon a set of known priorities and updated through periodic reviews.

SETTING PRIORITIES AND MAXIMIZING INVESTMENTS

Prioritization of ocean infrastructure investments involves choosing optimal combinations of assets within certain budget constraints to maximize benefits. The committee



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Summary The United States has jurisdiction over 3.4 million the Final Recommendations of the Interagency Ocean Policy square miles of ocean in its exclusive economic zone, a size Task Force (Executive Order 13547, July 19, 2010). exceeding the combined land area of the 50 states. This ex- Ocean research infrastructure supports both fundamental pansive marine area represents a prime national domain for and applied scientific research that addresses urgent societal activities such as maritime transportation, national security, concerns such as climate change, human health, domestic energy and mineral extraction, fisheries and aquaculture, offshore energy production, national security, marine ship- and tourism and recreation. However, it also carries with it ping, tsunami detection and severe storm tracking, sustain- the threat of damaging tsunamis and hurricanes, industrial able fisheries and aquaculture growth, and changes in marine accidents, and outbreaks of waterborne pathogens. The 2010 ecosystem services. However, significant components of Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the 2011 national infrastructure are aged, obsolete, or insufficient to Japanese earthquake and tsunami are vivid reminders that meet growing societal demand for scientific information to ocean activities and processes have direct human implica- enable safe, efficient, and environmentally sustainable use of the ocean. A comprehensive range of ocean research tions both nationally and worldwide, understanding of the infrastructure will be needed to overcome these chal- ocean system is still incomplete, and ocean research infra- lenges, and more interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary structure is needed to support both fundamental research and research will require a growing suite of infrastructure. societal priorities. In 2004, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy report, Current institutional barriers have inhibited collaborative An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century, called for “a re- efforts among federal agencies to plan for the operation and newed commitment to ocean science and technology” to real- maintenance of major, high-cost, critical infrastructure assets ize the benefits of the ocean while ensuring its sustainability such as ships, satellites, and global observing systems. for future generations. Since the release of the Commission’s Recommendation: Federal ocean agencies should es- report, federal agencies have been working together through tablish and maintain a coordinated national strategic the National Science and Technology Council’s Subcommit- plan for critical shared ocean infrastructure investment, tee on Ocean Science and Technology (SOST), which has the maintenance, and retirement. Such a plan should focus mandate to identify research priorities, facilitate coordination on trends in scientific needs and advances in technology, of ocean research, and develop ocean technology and infra- while taking into consideration life-cycle costs, efficient structure. This study was initiated to assist SOST in planning use, surge capacity for unforeseen events, and new op- for the nation’s ocean research infrastructure needs in 2030 portunities or national needs. The plan should be based by identifying major research questions anticipated to be at upon a set of known priorities and updated through the forefront of ocean science in 2030, defining categories periodic reviews. of infrastructure that should be included in next-generation planning, providing advice on criteria that could be used to set priorities for asset development or replacement, recom- SETTING PRIORITIES AND MAXIMIZING mending ways in which the federal agencies could maximize INVESTMENTS the value of ocean infrastructure investments, and addressing societal issues. It is also intended to complement efforts in Prioritization of ocean infrastructure investments in- support of the National Ocean Council, which was estab- volves choosing optimal combinations of assets within cer- lished to implement the National Ocean Policy outlined in tain budget constraints to maximize benefits. The committee 1

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2 CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE FOR OCEAN RESEARCH AND SOCIETAL NEEDS IN 2030 to society. The importance of these questions demands devised criteria that could be used to help federal agencies continued investment in ocean research infrastructure. and others develop a prioritization scheme. These criteria In order to address the most important and societally rel- encompass a wide range of issues, including whether specific evant questions, U.S. ocean research infrastructure will infrastructure can help address multiple scientific questions be required to serve a broad set of needs. Many of these or needs; data quality and continuity; future technology trends; balance between risk and benefit; and national stra- questions are presently relevant in 2010 but are not simple tegic or economic importance. From an economic viewpoint, issues that will result in solutions with a few more years of this type of prioritization needs to acknowledge uncertain- intensive effort. Instead, they reflect challenging scientific ties regarding the ability of future ocean science research problems that will likely take decades to solve, especially if to produce information relevant to critical ocean-related only limited resources are available. These include the need societal issues. for a global observational framework with sustained ability to monitor change in the ocean and enhance prediction of Recommendation: Development, maintenance, or re- the coupled ocean-atmosphere system, a capability to focus placement of ocean research infrastructure assets should on process studies that improve understanding, a focus on be prioritized based on (1) usefulness for addressing environmentally sensitive regions or areas of national secu- important science questions; (2) affordability, efficiency, rity, and the flexibility to deploy infrastructure during events and longevity; and (3) ability to contribute to other mis- or emergencies. sions or applications. Such prioritization will maximize societal benefit for the nation. OCEAN INFRASTRUCTURE CATEGORIES Federal agencies can optimize investments in ocean In this report, U.S. ocean research infrastructure is research infrastructure by following a number of best prac- defined as “the full portfolio of platforms, sensors, data tices: effectively and efficiently managing existing resources; sets and systems, models, supporting personnel, facilities, providing broad access to data, information, and facilities; and enabling organizations that the nation can bring to bear fostering collaboration at multiple organizational levels; to answer questions about the ocean, and that is (or could facilitating the successful transition of infrastructure from be) shared by or accessible to the ocean research commu- research to operational use; and ensuring the next generation nity as a whole.” The committee focused on ocean research of ocean science infrastructure. A coordinated, adaptable, infrastructure that could be considered community-wide or long-term strategy for usage of shared, federally funded shared assets, in that they are available to the ocean science infrastructure assets, with possibilities to include locally and community as a whole. The wide array of infrastructure state-funded infrastructure, and periodic reviews of ocean assets currently in use and needed for 2030 include mobile infrastructure are needed to fully capitalize on investments and fixed platforms, in situ sensors and sampling, remote made by individual agencies. sensing and modeling, and data management and communi- cations. In addition, enabling organizations will be necessary Recommendation: National shared ocean research infra- to foster technology innovation and to help train the future structure should be reviewed on a regular basis (every ocean science workforce. 5-10 years) for responsiveness to evolving scientific needs, An examination of trends revealed that, in the past two cost effectiveness, data accessibility and quality, timely decades, the use of floats, gliders, remotely operated vehi- delivery of services, and ease of use in order to ensure cles, autonomous underwater vehicles, and scientific seafloor optimal federal investment across a full range of ocean cables has increased; the use of ships, drifters, moorings, and science research and societal needs. towed platforms has remained stable; and the use of human occupied vehicles has declined. Based on these trends and on the major science questions for 2030, it is anticipated that MAJOR RESEARCH QUESTIONS IN 2030 utilization and capabilities for floats, gliders, remotely oper- The committee identified four major themes that are of ated vehicles, autonomous underwater vehicles, submarine compelling interest to society and that will drive scientific scientific cables, and moorings will continue to increase research for the next two decades: enabling stewardship of significantly for the next 20 years. Ships will continue to the environment, protecting life and property, promoting be an essential component of ocean research infrastructure; economic vitality, and increasing fundamental scientific however, the increasing use of autonomous and unmanned understanding. Utilizing strategic planning documents, assets will broaden the demands for a wide range of ship ca- current literature, and community input, the committee con- pabilities. Many sensor capabilities have increased: longev- verged upon 32 major research questions that they anticipate ity, stability, data communications, adaptability, and access will be at the forefront of scientific and societal importance to harsh environments. These improvements are mostly in 2030. The scientific questions that will drive research in dependent on innovations occurring outside the ocean sci- 2030 are rich and diverse and are of compelling interest ence field, and the oceanographic community will continue

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3 SUMMARY • upport continued innovation in ocean infrastruc- S to benefit from innovations in sensor and other technologies ture development. Of particular note is the need to across many fields. develop in situ sensors, especially biogeochemical Recommendation: To ensure that the United States sensors. has the capacity in 2030 to undertake and benefit from • ngage allied disciplines and diverse fields to E knowledge and innovations possible with oceanographic leverage technological developments outside research, the nation should oceanography. • ncrease the number and capabilities of broadly I • mplement a comprehensive, long-term research I accessible computing and modeling facilities with fleet plan to retain access to the sea. exascale or petascale capability that are dedicated • ecover U.S. capability to access fully and par- R to future oceanographic needs. tially ice-covered seas. • stablish broadly accessible virtual (distributed) E • xpand abilities for autonomous monitoring at E data centers that have seamless integration of fed- a wide range of spatial and temporal scales with eral, state, and locally held databases, accompany- greater sensor and platform capabilities. ing metadata compliant with proven standards, • nable sustained, continuous time-series E and intuitive archiving and synthesizing tools. measurements. • xamine and adopt proven data management E • aintain continuity of satellite remote sens - M practices from allied disciplines. ing and communication capabilities for oceano- • acilitate broad community access to infrastruc- F graphic data and sustain plans for new satellite ture assets, including mobile and fixed platforms platforms, sensors, and communication systems. and costly analytical equipment. • xpand interdisciplinary education and promote E a technically skilled workforce.

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