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Center for Ocean, Seafloor, and Marine Observing Systems (COSMOS)

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Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory

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At WHOI’s Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO), Jay Sisson, Hugh Popenoe, and Jared Schwartz (left to right) switch out part of a “node,” a device that connects several ocean-monitoring instruments. Regular maintenance like this ensures that MVCO’s offshore nodes provide uninterrupted data exchange and power to support increasingly sophisticated coastal ocean research. WHOI’s Center for Ocean, Seafloor, and Marine Observing Systems (COSMOS) oversees MVCO and other regional ocean observing efforts at WHOI. (Photo by Jayne Doucette, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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» Center for Ocean, Seafloor and Marine Observing Systems (COSMOS)

The Center for Coastal Ocean, Seafloor and Marine Observing Systems (COSMOS) works to further research at WHOI relating to ocean observatories and observing systems.

This year COSMOS oversaw the second year of the Massachusetts Technological Collaborative John Adams Innovation Institute (MTCJAII) grant with three components. First, this grant has enabled enhancements to the Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO) including a new landing at the offshore tower and upgrades to the communications and power capabilities. These upgrades made it possible to install a new radar system for remote sensing of waves and currents, and a more capable CO2 measurement system at the tower. The MTCJAII grant also supports activities to integrate acoustic communications systems with remote sensors and data couriers. This is significant because MVCO is the testbed for evaluating the reliability and range of the acoustic signals sent through the water between “nodes”— geographically separate installations of ocean-monitoring instruments, part of the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) funded by the National Science Foundation. The third MTCJAII component has led to upgrades to National Data buoy Center buoys at various sites in state waters; these standard national weather buoys now also carry a WHOI-developed system for long wave and short wave radiation measurements that will help provide improved weather forecasts and other important data-related products for a variety of users.

The MVCO has hosted several projects this year. In one of these, Jim Edson (at the University of Connecticut) and colleagues in the Upper Ocean Processes Group at WHOI conducted an experiment on the offshore tower. They added a meteorological mast to hold a suite of sensors that measure wind, temperature, humidity and more, near the ocean surface—and put the same sensor suite on a buoy deployed southwest of the tower. The objective of the experiment was to improve the motion correction algorithms, computational procedures used to compute heat, mass, and momentum fluxes from measurements taken at the buoy, through direct comparison with fluxes computed at the tower. The new algorithms will be used to improve the flux estimates in studies of the North Atlantic and for climate models.

Rob Olson and Heidi Sosik (Bio) continued to use MVCO to support their time series research on processes that affect phytoplankton blooms in New England waters. Their work involves a combination of instrument development activities and scientific study of effects of environmental factors that change with seasons and from year to year. 2010 was a notable year because of phytoplankton bloom differences linked to the warmest spring water temperatures in the MVCO record to date. In addition, Olson and Sosik achieved a record long 11-month unattended deployment of their in situ imaging flow cytometer.

With the enhanced power capabilities now available at MVCO, Anthony Kirincich (PO) has installed three high-frequency (HF) radar systems to make continuous measurements of the speed and direction of surface currents over a 15 by 20 km area south of Martha's Vineyard at spatial resolutions of 300 m. The output from this unique system will be used to determine the effects of spatial variability on circulation and exchanges of a host of factors including heat, mass, water, and more, and will be integrated into the existing HF radar system network along the New England and Mid-Atlantic coastlines.

COSMOS has been involved in several regional and national meetings. Director, Heidi Sosik attended meetings for NASA’s mission on Geostationary Coastal and Air Pollution Events (GEO-CAPE) to partake in discussions of one of its goals—to understand the short-term dynamics of coastal ecosystems—and to plan for continued remote sensing validation activities at MVCO. 

Building on the success of the MTCJAII grant, Heidi Sosik, spearheaded a proposal to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to further improvements to MVCO, upgrade more NDBC meteorological buoys, advance acoustic and optical underwater communications, enable longer endurance for remote underwater vehicles, and create new moorings that will extend information from the Pioneer Array (an OOI node consisting of instrumented moorings to be installed off the New England coast) to the MVCO. The specified projects would enhance partnerships with industry in the state of Massachusetts and provide broader opportunities for the marine industry sector

In conjunction with this proposal, COSMOS hosted a visit to WHOI by Gregory Bialecki, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This visit highlighted business growth of marine sector technologies and new business start-ups resulting from WHOI’s implementation of coastal and global ocean observatories, as part of NSF’s OOI.

Looking to the future, COSMOS will continue to play a role in creating scientific access to the coastal ocean and to observing systems, and to foster creative new ways to study the ocean

Last updated: June 8, 2011

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