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Ocean Observatories


New Robot Sub Surveys the Deep off the Pacific Northwest

Scientists and engineers from WHOI and the University of Washington have successfully completed the first scientific mission with Sentry, a newly developed robot capable of diving as deep as 5,000 meters into the ocean. The vehicle surveyed and helped pinpoint several proposed deep-water sites for seafloor instruments that will be deployed in the Ocean Observatories Initiative.

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Scientists Gear Up to Launch Ocean Observing Networks

Scientists Gear Up to Launch Ocean Observing Networks

Oceanography is on the verge of a revolution. Scientists and engineers have been dreaming up networks of permanent observing outposts that could probe from the sea surface to the seafloor from many different locations in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans. And that dream may take a big step toward reality if Congress agrees to the National Science Foundation’s six-year Ocean Observatories Initiative.

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What Could a Tsunami Network Look Like in the Future?

What Could a Tsunami Network Look Like in the Future?

The Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting (DART) system is battle-tested and operational, so it makes sense to use such buoys to address the immediate need for a tsunami network. Researchers at WHOI are concentrating on the next generation of multidisciplinary ocean observing platforms.

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The New Wave of Coastal Ocean Observing

The New Wave of Coastal Ocean Observing

Estuaries are the borderlands between salt and freshwater environments, and they are incredibly diverse both biologically and physically. The diversity and the high energy of the ecosystem make estuaries remarkably resilient. With a better understanding of these systems, we can reverse

their decline and restore the ecological richness of these valuable, albeit muddy, environments.

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Seeding the Seafloor with Observatories

Seeding the Seafloor with Observatories

Scientists extend their reach into the deep with pioneering undersea cable networks

H2O (Hawaii-2 Observatory) – In 1998, scientists used the remotely operated vehicles (ROV) Jason and Medea to create the pioneering long-term seafloor observatory called H2O (Hawaii-2 Observatory). They spliced an abandoned submarine telephone cable into a termination frame. The frame relays power and communications to a junction box, which serves as an electrical outlet for scientific instruments.

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Offshore Air-Sea Interaction Tower Expands Research Capabilities of the Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory

Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and their colleagues will gain critical environmental information from the Air-Sea Interaction Tower (ASIT) being built off the south shore of Martha’s Vineyard. Construction of the tripod-shaped tower began in August and is expected to be completed in late September. The tower will be linked to the Institution’s Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO), which was built and installed several years ago off South Beach near the Katama Airfield.

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New Coastal Observatory Is Born

New Coastal Observatory Is Born

The Martha’s Vineyard Observatory will have sensors mounted on two seafloor nodes, at depths of about 5 and 15 meters, respectively, connected to a shore station via a buried cable. Instruments mounted on the nodes will continually monitor mean sea and wave heights, current strengths, seawater turbulence, subsurface sediment movement, sunlight intensity, and the temperature, salinity, and carbon dioxide levels of the ocean?s waters.

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Putting H2O in the Ocean

Putting H2O in the Ocean

A major obstacle impeding our ability to understand many of the earth’s fundamental, ongoing dynamics–quite frankly–has been a dearth of electrical outlets and phone jacks on the seafloor.

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Seeding the Oceans with Observatories

Seeding the Oceans with Observatories

Ship-borne expeditions have been the dominant means of exploring the oceans in the 20th century. Scientists aboard ships made the observations and gathered the data that confirmed the revolutionary theory of plate tectonics, which demonstrated that the earth is a complex, multi-faceted system that changes over time. But that revelation also exposed a major shortcoming of the ship-based exploratory approach: its very limited ability to quantify change.

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NEPTUNE: A Fiber-Optic ‘Telescope’ to Inner Space

NEPTUNE: A Fiber-Optic 'Telescope' to Inner Space

NEPTUNE is a proposed system of high-speed fiber- optic submarine cables linking a series of seafloor nodes supporting thousands of assorted measuring instruments, video equipment, and robotic vehicles that could upload power and download data at undersea docks. Unlike conventional telephone cables, which supply power from shore in a straight line, end to end, NEPTUNE would operate like a power grid, distributing power simultaneously and as needed throughout the network. Working much like a campus data network (with nodes analogous to buildings and each instrument like a workstation), NEPTUNE would provide real-time transmission of data and two-way communications.

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Seafloor to Surface to Satellite to Shore

Seafloor to Surface to Satellite to Shore

The next great leap in our understanding of the earth-ocean system will require us to put our “eyes” and “ears” in the ocean to observe the dynamic processes going on there as they are happening, in real time.

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Plugging the Seafloor with CORKs

Plugging the Seafloor with CORKs

Hidden beneath the seafloor throughout most of the world’s oceans lies a massive, dynamic plumbing system that is a central component of our planet’s inner workings.

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Outposts in the Ocean

Oceanographers and climatologists have something in common with politicians and stock market analysts: They are all trying to get a grasp on a complex, ever-shifting system.

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Ocean Seismic Network Seafloor Observatories

Ocean Seismic Network Seafloor Observatories

Our knowledge of the physical characteristics of Earth’s deep interior is based largely on observations of surface vibrations that occur after large earthquakes. Using the same techniques as CAT (Computer Aided Tomography) scans in medical imaging, seismologists can “image” the interior of our planet. But just as medical imaging requires sensors that surround the patient, seismic imaging requires sensors surrounding the earth.

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