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WHOI tapped by NSF to lead OOI Program Management for an Additional Five Years

El Gordo hydrothermal chimney El Gordo hydrothermal chimney is photographed by ROPOS from the view point of the digital still camera. Also visible in the picture, attached to the chimney, are the intakes for the mass spectrometer and fluid and microbial DNA sampler. (Photo Credit: NSF-OOI/UW/ISS; Dive R1839; V15.)

September 21, 2023

Woods Hole, Mass. — The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that it has awarded a coalition of academic and oceanographic research organizations a second, five-year contract to operate and maintain the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI). The coalition, led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), and including the University of Washington (UW) and Oregon State University (OSU), will continue operations of the OOI, a science-driven ocean observing network that delivers real-time data to address critical science questions regarding the world's oceans.

WHOI has led the operations and management aspects of the OOI since 2018 and will continue to serve as the home for the next five years of the OOI Project Management Office, led by Principal Investigator James B. Edson and Sr. Program Manager Paul Matthias.

The OOI collects and serves measurements from more than 900 autonomous instruments on the seafloor and on moored and free-swimming platforms that are serviced during regular, ship-based expeditions to the array sites. Data from each instrument are transmitted to shore and are freely available to users worldwide, including scientists, policy experts, decision-makers, educators, and the public.

surface buoy

Jim Ryder and Kris Newhall complete assembly of At-Sea Test 3 surface buoy to be deployed at new Pioneer Mid-Atlantic Bight location this month. The test moorings will confirm the design of the systems to be implemented within the new array in Spring 2024. (Credit: Jared Schwartz© Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Under this new $220 M investment, each institution will continue to operate and maintain the portion of OOI assets for which it is currently responsible: WHOI will operate the Pioneer Array in the mid-Atlantic Bight off the North Carolina coast, subject to environmental permitting, and the Global Arrays in the Irminger Sea off the southern tip of Greenland and at Station Papa in the Gulf of Alaska; UW will operate the Regional Cabled Array that extends across the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate and through the overlying ocean; and OSU will operate the Endurance Array off the coast of Washington and Oregon. OSU also houses and operates OOI’s Data Center that ingests and delivers all OOI data.

“WHOI is honored to have been selected to continue the mission of the OOI, which is providing valuable ocean data at a time when it is critically needed,” said Peter de Menocal, President and Director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “The continued extreme weather events reinforce the importance of this ocean monitoring program to provide science-based data that is accessible to researchers, modelers, agencies, and the public, and we look forward to being part of the continued scientific advancements from this transformational program in the years ahead.”

“OOI has proven to be an exceedingly valuable source of information about the ocean,” said NSF Program Officer for OOI George Voulgaris. “Its freely available data are contributing to better understanding of ocean processes and how the ocean is changing. Scientists are using OOI data as the source of cutting-edge scientific discoveries—everything from getting close to predicting underwater volcanic eruptions to changing ocean circulation patterns that have real life implications for weather and fishing patterns. OOI data also are serving as inspiration for students in the classroom, who are excited about learning about the ocean with access to real-time ocean data. We at NSF are proud of our continued investment in making these data available.”

The Project Management Office at WHOI collaborates with NSF to provide high-level oversight and financial management of the project. In addition, the office coordinates with partner institutions to establish annual priorities for each of the arrays individually and for the network. “The WHOI team and our partners at UW and OSU have learned a great deal over the past five years and are grateful that our efforts to perfect OOI and its data delivery system have been recognized,” said WHOI Senior Scientist Jim Edson, lead principal investigator on the OOI. “We look forward to the next five years where we can continue to perfect our collection and serving of data, while encouraging it increased use and collaboration among ocean scientists funded by NSF and other agencies.”


About the Ocean Observatories Initiative

The Ocean Observatories Initiative is a science-driven ocean observing network that delivers real-time data from more than 900 instruments to address critical science questions regarding the world's oceans. The National Science Foundation has funded the OOI, under Cooperative Agreement No. 1743430, to encourage scientific investigation. OOI data are freely available online to anyone with an Internet connection.

The U.S. National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency that supports science and engineering in all 50 states and U.S. territories. NSF was established in 1950 by Congress to: Promote the progress of science, and advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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