In early 2021, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Ocean Observatories Initiative Facilities Board (OOIFB) initiated a process to decide if, and if so where, the Pioneer Array might be relocated to answer pressing science questions and gather data from a new important region. To facilitate community input, NSF and OOIFB held a two-phase Innovations Lab series between January and June of 2021, to determine where the Array might be located and how it might be configured to answer science questions.
After a thorough review of multiple locations, workshop participants recommended the Southern Mid-Atlantic Bight between Cape Hatteras and Norfolk Canyon for the new location. This region offers opportunities to collect data on a wide variety of cross-disciplinary science topics including cross-shelf exchange, land-sea interactions associated with large estuarine systems, a highly productive ecosystem with major fisheries, and carbon cycle processes. The location also offers opportunities to improve our understanding of hurricane development, tracking and prediction, and offshore wind partnerships.
On April 30,2021, NSF announced that the Pioneer Array would be relocated to the Southern Mid-Atlantic Bight area during 2024. The second of the two-phase workshops was held in June 2021 to help flesh out science questions, array configurations, and potential partnerships to help inform the necessary planning for a successful relocation.
Since June, members of the Coastal and Global Scale Nodes team at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have been actively working on planning the relocation. The team has launched a three-part process to ensure the array is ready for a move in 2024. Phase 1 is the planning phase (July 2021-April 2022). During phase one, the team is consolidating science themes and questions, building an instrumentation list, conducting site characterization, modeling, and an engineering assessment of the new site. The team is also determining what regulatory requirements exist for the new site and launching permitting applications, as needed.
Phase two is the engineering phase, which will run from May 2022-December 2022. The team will complete engineering of the moorings, instrumentation requirements, and mobile asset plans. They will also refine site modeling and characterization based on ongoing collection of site data and develop a procurement and build schedule.
The implementation stage is phase three, which will begin in January 2023 and end when the array is in place in its new location in April 2024. A great deal will be accomplished during this phase, including all regulatory submittals and approvals, procurement of materials and instruments, building of the moorings, and ultimately preparation for and execution of a cruise to put the moorings in place in the new location.Stories recounting the planning process and community input for the Pioneer Array Relocation are available here.
This array includes following research sites and platforms.