September 3, 2009

Ocean observatories are planned

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution says it will soon begin construction of ocean observatories at various U.S. coastal sites and other locations.

An agreement concerning the project was signed Wednesday by officials of the institution, the National Science Foundation and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. The ocean observatories will be located off southern New England, Oregon and Washington, as well as at high latitude open ocean sites in the Atlantic, Pacific and Southern Oceans. The observatories will be built during the next five years.

The project is part of the Ocean Observatories Initiative that's funded by the National Science Foundation and managed by the consortium.

Officials said the project will establish a network of global, regional and coastal observatories that are linked by a system-wide cyber-infrastructure to observe complex ocean processes such as climate variability, ocean circulation and ocean acidification across a range of spatial scales at critical coastal, open ocean and seafloor locations.

Woods Hole Director Susan Avery said, With an interactive connection to the ocean and near real-time access to data from hundreds of sensors at key locations around the globe. we believe this project will lead to major advances in our understanding of essential Earth processes, such as the global carbon cycle, and help us address global scientific and societal issues including climate change, changing ocean chemistry, and the health of our oceans and marine ecosystems.