The mandate of the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) is to provide data to the scientific community, Tim Cowles, Vice President & Director of Ocean Observing at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, stressed while providing an OOI update to members of the community attending the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, Calif., this month.
Participating in a scientific session on Dec. 7 about Sustained Ocean Observation, Cowles reported the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded OOI project is now in year three of a five-and-half-year construction phase and over the past year considerable progress has been made across the program in getting the complex architecture in place. While many milestones of the past year have been focused on hardware procurement, development and testing, Cowles assured the audience that every action the project team takes is aimed at providing the user community with high quality data.
“We’re very excited about the progress being made on the OOI,” Cowles said. “But I want to stress that this project is not just about building and installing hardware. It’s about providing data to the community. Our mandate is to provide you with data, and it will be open access data. The user experience, or the front end of what you’ll see when we’re open for business, is designed to be simple. You will ask for data, you will get data.”
The baseline architecture for the OOI consists of two regional cable study sites, two coastal arrays, four global arrays, a cyberinfrastructure and software interfaces necessary for education tools. Cowles said it’s important to recognize that the OOI has one large overarching objective, to deliver the data and data products that will address large-scale science issues from climate to ecosystem health to sea floor dynamics and water column processes. Those critical questions, he added, require sustained observation of high quality. That is being done with the OOI and the architecture will be able to expand over time as technical enhancements become available over that 25-year-plus time period.
The OOI presents an “exciting opportunity for our community to extend our ability to conduct expeditions and other types of oceanic research by providing a temporal and spatial context for focused observations,” Cowles noted. While the project is focused on building this revolutionary observation architecture, the real pioneers will be the future user community.
“The project team is building the infrastructure, we wear the hardhats,” Cowles remarked. “We don’t control your access. Our mandate is to facilitate your access. You, the community, will use, interpret and publish the data.”
When the OOI is operating, simple data paths will be in place. For example, telemetry from a buoy would be transported via satellite and downloaded to the cyber point of presence, or “cyber pop” and travel through the cyberinfrastructure to a point where a user has entered a request and there will be a data receipt interface.
The OOI presents a range of opportunities for those in the user community. Cowles encouraged members of the community with science ideas that they want to develop with colleagues to discuss those ideas with their program managers and develop workshop proposals for NSF support. The OOI project also will hold small technical workshops to address technical issues. Over the next couple of years, the project will host workshops on mobile platform strategies, data quality and sampling scenarios.
Those interested can track progress of the OOI by visiting the OOI Website. Detailed information on the OOI equipment and sensors and their date products can be found on the OOI Instrument Table Section of the website as well. Click here to see an OOI Station Map.
The OOI Program is managed and coordinated by the OOI Project Office at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, in Washington, D.C., and is responsible for construction and initial operations of the OOI network. Four major Implementing Organizations are responsible for construction and development of the overall program. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Oregon State University and Scripps Institution of Oceanography are responsible for the coastal and global moorings and their autonomous vehicles. The University of Washington is responsible for regional cabled seafloor systems and moorings. The University of California, San Diego, is implementing the cyberinfrastructure component. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is providing the education and public engagement software infrastructure.