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Who Builds Them?

Several universities, institutions, government agencies, and researchers have built or are in the process of building ocean observatories, observing systems, and pieces of such infrastructure. Those programs are funded primarily by governments—particularly the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration—though some of the costs are shared by states or provided by private donors and investors.

Major Observatory Projects and Programs

OOI - Ocean Observatories Initiative
The Ocean Sciences Division of the National Science Foundation has developed the six-year, $309 million Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) to help the research community build the infrastructure required to make sustained, long-term, and adaptive measurements of the fundamental processes at work in the oceans. The OOI is an outgrowth of many years of community-wide scientific planning efforts, both nationally and internationally, and builds upon recent technological advances, experience with existing observatories, and several successful pilot and testbed projects. NSF and the Bush Adminstration have proposed to start funding for OOI in the 2007 fiscal year.
» Read an NSF article about OOI

Oceans.US and IOOS - Integrated and Sustained Ocean Observation Systems 
Oceans.US was created by the National Oceanographic Partnership Program to coordinate the development of an operational, integrated, and sustained ocean observing system. One of its principal roles is to provide guidance and coordination for IOOS, which is spearheaded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and includes several federal agencies. IOOS is focused on environmental monitoring that can immediately serve national needs for: detecting and forecasting oceanic components of climate variability; mitigating natural hazards; facilitating safe and efficient marine operations; ensuring national security; ensuring public health; managing resources for sustainable use; and preserving and restoring healthy marine ecosystems.
» Visit the Oceans.US web site

GEOSS - Global Earth Observation System of Systems  
In 2005, 61 countries agreed to a 10-year plan to revolutionize our understanding of the earth, oceans, and atmosphere and how they interact. GEOSS is envisioned as a large national and international cooperative effort to bring together existing and new hardware and software and to make the environmental data and information compatible.
» Visit website

NOPP - National Oceanographic Partnership Program 
NOPP is a collaboration of fifteen federal agencies to provide leadership and coordination of national oceanographic research and education initiatives. NOPP facilitates interactions among federal agencies, academia, and industry; increases visibility for ocean issues on the national agenda; and coordinates efforts across the broad oceanographic community.
» Visit the NOPP website

Laboratories and Groups Developing Observatory Technology

COSMOS - WHOI Center for Ocean, Seafloor, and Marine Observing Systems
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution established COSMOS to provide systems engineering, administrative, and management oversight for large observing system projects.  Building on decades of experience in designing, constructing, deploying, and operating marine observing systems, COSMOS will coordinate diverse Woods Hole efforts to develop new observatory sensors and systems while fostering collaborations between research labs around the world. The center is particularly focused on the Ocean Research Interactive Observatories Network (ORION) and on developing and supporting coastal observatories and observing systems in the Northeastern United States.

LOOKING - Laboratory for the Ocean Observatory Knowledge INtegration Grid
is a collaborative effort between the University of Washington, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and the University of California-San Diego to identify, synthesize, and assemble existing and emerging technologies into cyberinfrastructure design. The goal is to create a fully autonomous sensor network capable of evolving and adapting to changes during the life cycle of an ocean observatory.
» Visit website

NEPTUNE Data Communications Project   
Led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, this group is working to design and implement the undersea data communications network that will meet the communications requirements for the NEPTUNE observatory.
» Visit website

New Approaches for Coastal Observatories  
The U.S. Geological Survey and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution--in cooperation with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, and RD Instruments--are developing a low-cost system for retrieving oceanographic data from instruments in the coastal ocean.
» Visit website

Center for Earth Observations and Applications   
Led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, CEOA is working to coordinate and integrate research projects in the natural, physical, and social sciences, engineering, and information technology at several California-based institutions.

Ocean Observatories at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Through projects such as MARS and the Monterey Ocean Observing System, MBARI is working to integrate and coordinate the simultaneous use of moorings, cabled observatories, and autonomous underwater vehicles while developing novel chemical and biological sensors and platforms for ocean observing.
» Visit website

Researchers and crew members struggle to deploy a spar buoy in rough seas during a January 2006 cruise of R/V Atlantis in the North Atlantic. The buoy measured the exchange of heat and moisture between the atmosphere and the ocean. (Photo by Terry Joyce, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
In 2003, the Hawaii-2 Observatory got its first renovation. The manipulator arm on the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Jason plugs in an instrument to the observatory's junction box. (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the BBC Natural History Unit, courtesy of the WHOI Advanced Imaging and Visualization Laboratory and Johnson-Sea-Link submersible, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution)
Crew members of the University of Washington's R/V Thomas Thompson deploy the junction box that provided electrical outlets for scientific instruments at the Hawaii-2 Observatory (H2O), the first long-term, midocean seafloor observatory. The junction box was spliced to a retired submarine telephone cable, which provided power to the instruments and allowed data to be transmitted in real time from seafloor to shore. (Photo by Julie Allen, WHOI)