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50 Years of Ocean Discovery: National Science Foundation 1950—2000
foremost as the guiding principle of our endeavors that advancing knowledge of the oceans was the central objective of the research discussed at this symposium.
I found it difficult to define the boundaries of chemical oceanography when preparing this review. Early in the process of preparing this paper, I realized that this was not an important aspect of the undertaking. The record of accomplishments using chemistry to understand the oceans and oceanic processes involves research efforts by individuals and groups who may be primarily self-identified or generally recognized as physical oceanographers, biological oceanographers, or marine geologists. My colleague, Dr. James R. Luyten, Senior Associate Director and Director of Research at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), brought to my attention a recent editorial in Science "How to Change the University" (Hazzaniga, 1998). A quote from this editorial is thought-provoking and has implications in the world of research and scholarship in general: "The modem university is partitioned along academic lines that no longer truly reflect today's intellectual life." (p. 237). Perhaps this was what the organizing committee for this symposium had in mind when it set forth the charge of "discoveries at the intersections of disciplines."
I believe that those of us studying the oceans should continue to be vigilant and take heed that we do not allow organizational boundaries among or within disciplines to frustrate significant advances in our knowledge of the oceans. Sverdrup, Johnson, and Fleming (1942) with their powerful, wide-ranging (and now venerable) text set the example for us to follow:
Oceanography embraces all studies pertaining to the sea and integrates the knowledge gained in the marine sciences that deal with such subjects as the ocean boundaries and bottom topography, the physics and chemistry of sea water, the types of currents, and the many phases of marine biology. The close interrelation and mutual dependence of the single marine sciences have long been recognized. (Sverdrup, Johnson, and Fleming, 1942, p. 1)
This is the appropriate place to acknowledge the lasting contributions of Richard H. Fleming, Professor of Oceanography, University of Washington, and the co-author of The Oceans, who was a leader in pioneering studies setting the scene for the post-1950 studies of the chemistry of the oceans.
A detailed assessment of progress in chemical oceanography for the past three decades—essentially for the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s—was assembled recently in an effort funded by the National Science Foundation called Futures of Ocean Chemistry in the United States—an effort with the clever acronym FOCUS. Many excellent chemical oceanographers, marine chemists, and geochemists contributed to the FOCUS report and it is available on the World Wide Web (FOCUS, 1998). The 1970s through 1990s received an extensive treatment by these experts. I concentrate my effort here on the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s because this is the time period during which several of the most important contributions and activities occurred over the past 50 years. In fact, I will go back a bit before 1950 to set the scene, and then provide a thread of continuity from this paper to the FOCUS report by a limited discussion of important research efforts from the 1970s into the 1990s.
The Ocean Studies Board of the National Research Council organized this event, and it is appropriate to note that staff of this board and its predecessor boards and committees have provided invaluable service at the interface between the scientific community in general and the federal agencies since the early 1950s. Richard C. Vetter was a key staff person for these boards and committees, serving as Executive Secretary of the Committee on Oceanography during a significant portion of this time. When Dick retired, he advertised on an OMNET (electronic mail) bulletin board that he had a small collection of reports, books, and news clippings to be made available to anyone who would pay for the shipping and promise to keep the collection together and make it available to students in particular, as I recall. I was fortunate to be the selected recipient. This collection contained a copy of the June 1, 1964, weekly professional magazine of the American Chemical Society, Chemical and Engineering News. A part of a featured special report was "Chemistry and the Oceans."
There is an interesting statement in that report: "Chemical oceanography is an old science recently revitalized." (p. 6A) Some may question this since several folks think of oceanography as a relatively young science. Many chemical oceanography texts—for example, a compilation of papers Chemical Oceanography edited by J.P. Riley and G. Skirrow (1965); The Sea, Volume 5: Marine Chemistry, edited by Professor Edward D. Goldberg (1974) and used as keystone learning and reference guides by my generation of chemical oceanographers; and the recent text of Professor Michael E.Q. Pilson (1998)—provide guidance about the history of chemical oceanography and marine chemistry. Wallace (1974) provides a very thorough and highly recommended review of the history of chemical analysis of seawater up to the mid-1900s and then continues with a thorough review as these analyses pertained to chlorinity and salinity determinations well into the 1960s. Comprehensive reviews of various topics in chemical oceanography have been assembled by leading researchers in the volumes of Chemical Oceanography edited by J.P. Riley and R. Chester beginning in 1975 (Riley and Chester, 1975).
CHEMICAL OCEANOGRAPHY PRIOR TO 1950
In the next three paragraphs, I paraphrase or quote from the texts cited above (Riley and Skirrow, 1965; Goldberg, 1974; Wallace, 1974; Pilson, 1998).
Aristotle expounded on the possible origins of the salt in the sea (Wallace, 1974). Since Aristotle's contribution,