A Multi-Scale Observatory

The OOI infrastructure will allow sweeping improvements to the rate and scale of oceanographic data collection. Its network of observatory nodes on multiple scales will address interrelated global, regional, and coastal science questions.

The Global Scale Nodes

  • Vision: Air-sea, water-column, and seafloor sensors operating in remote but scientifically important locations beyond the reach of cabled observatories.
  • Science drivers: Air-sea interactions and gas exchange; access to high latitudes; global carbon cycle; ocean acidification; trophic structure; global geodynamics; ocean circulation and climate.
  • Current technology: Wave-following discus buoys or subsurface moorings capable of one-year deployments in moderate ocean conditions, some with low-bandwidth telemetry.
  • Observatory state of the art:  Advanced buoy and mooring designs will enable research needs at each site: Discus buoys with power generation via solar, wind and (optionally) fuel cell technology, acoustic and inductive telemetry links to subsurface instrumentation, hybrid profiler moorings capable of spanning the full water column, and additional fixed and mobile assets to provide a horizontal "footprint."
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The Regional Scale Nodes

  • Vision: Oceanic plate-scale studies of water column, seafloor, and sub-seafloor processes using high-powered, high-bandwidth instrument arrays cabled to shore.
  • Science drivers: Deep and shallow structure of Earth’s crust; geophysics of subduction zones and transform faults; seismicity, magmatism, and deformation across the Juan de Fuca Plate and Cascadia Subduction Zone; water, heat, and chemistry fluxes of hydrothermal systems; circulation and mixing at gyre boundaries; water column biogeochemistry and ecosystem dynamics.
  • Current technology: Other than single-node prototypes in relatively shallow water, no existing observatory can provide the same diversity and scale of measurements as the regional cabled observatory.
  • Observatory state of the art: A transformative network of diverse instruments spanning much of the Juan de Fuca Plate in the northeast Pacific. Primary nodes on the cabled observatory will receive 10 kW power and gigabit bandwidth, which they will distribute to instrument arrays or nearby secondary nodes. Sensors on water-column profilers will measure variables such as temperature, conductivity, currents, dissolved oxygen, nitrates, fluorescence, chlorophyll, and carbon dioxide. Other sensors may include acoustic tomography arrays, broadband seismometers, and pressure and hydrophone sensors for tsunami detection.
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The Coastal Scale Nodes

  • Vision: Long-term and high spatial-resolution sampling to understand the physics, chemistry, ecology, geology, and climate science of the societally important coastal regions.
  • Science drivers: Variability in major currents such as the Gulf Stream and California Current; nearshore fisheries and regime shifts; coastal carbon budget; land-ocean transport of carbon, nutrients, sediments, and fresh water; shelf, shelfbreak, and slope exchanges; coastal hazards such as storms, tsunamis, and harmful algae.
  • Current technology: Dispersed, non-networked installations of instrumented buoys and shallow-water observatories.
  • Observatory state of the art: Surface and subsurface buoys with capabilities for power generation and satellite communications, cabled moorings, and profiling moorings. Fleets of autonomous underwater vehicles will augment coastal observatories, providing spatial coverage unachievable with stationary assets. There are two configuration types: (1), the relocatable Pioneer array placed around a region of interest for intensive studies lasting up to five years; and (2), the Endurance array, composed of permanent cross-margin lines of three to six moorings, some cabled to shore, to support sustained, high-frequency observations.
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  • Vision: An interactive ocean laboratory enabled by a common cyberinfrastructure that integrates three observatories, thousands of instruments, tens of thousands of users, and terabytes of data.
  • Science drivers: Allow interaction with the ocean through real-time command and control of sensors; provide models with a continuous data feed; automate data quality control and calibration; and support novel approaches to data management, analysis, and visualization.
  • Current technology: Project-specific data networks handling a comparatively low data volume with little two-way connectivity.
  • Observatory state of the art: A comprehensive, scalable architecture that supports interactivity, accommodates new hardware and software, and can integrate data from other observatory networks such as the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). Standardized system monitoring, control, and collaboration interfaces; metadata definition; automated archiving, quality assurance/quality control, and data manipulation options.
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