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Images: Seeding the Oceans with Observatories

In the midst of the vast ocean, a moored observatory does its work, continually taking measurements to track oceanic and air-sea processes that influence Earth's climate. (Roger Archibald.)

Seafloor observatories, like this one conceived for the NEPTUNE project, could host an array of sensors and serve as a base for robotic exploration.

The Hawaii-2 Observatory, the first longterm, mid-ocean seafloor observatory, was deployed in 1998, taking advantage of a retired trans-Pacific telephone cable.

Scientists at the Field Research Facility in Duck, North Carolina, use the Coastal Research Amphibious Buggy (CRAB) to deploy instruments for studies of the dynamic processes that shape beaches.

A prototype Argo float is tested in the Labrador Sea. Scientists hope to seed the oceans with 3,000 similar floats to measure oceanic conditions and transmit data to shore via satellite. (George Tupper)

A CORK (Circulation Obviation Retrofit Kit) sits in a seafloor borehole, measuring subseafloor fluid circulation processes that may affect earthquakes, ore formation, and subseafloor microbial communities.

Coastal observatories, like LEO-15 in New Jersey, are linked by submarine cable and augmented by robots, radar, and buoyed meteorological sensors.