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A New Era in Observing the Ocean

July 1, 2006

Marine scientists have their fingers crossed that a long-planned Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) will make it through the federal budget process this summer and fall and become a reality. OOI, supported by the National Science Foundation, will enable the ocean sciences research community to work together to create a permanent presence in the ocean via an integrated observatory network. Major components include a set of interactive moored buoys around the world, a regional cabled observatory off the Pacific Northwest coast covering an entire tectonic plate, and coastal ocean observatories with both fixed instrumentation and relocatable “Pioneer” mooring arrays. Researchers will be able to remotely control their instruments around the world and adapt to changing situations, perform experiments, and access data in near real-time from almost anywhere in the ocean.  If OOI passes, construction could start by the end of 2007.