On Dec. 13, the OOI launched its new website and made all OOI Cruise Data available to the public.  Key resources on the new website include the OOI Data page detailing individual data tools, data products, and quality control information; the Researchers page where scientists can learn more about submitting OOI-related proposals, science workshops, and the observation and sampling approach; and The Observatory page detailing all infrastructure, instruments, and technology used in the OOI.

Updates continue on the Cyberinfrastructure software and graphical user interface (the OOI Data Portal).  Last night the OOI Cyberinfrastructure software underwent a successful upgrade of its asset management system.  These updates were made to correct some of the issues found during the Dec. 4th upgrade, including updates to data description mapping and system stability. With this upgrade in place, the OOI Data Portal will be moved onto the production server today to undergo load testing.  Upon successful testing, the OOI Data Portal will be made available to the public next week.

The OOI Data team continues to evaluate data streams to ensure that the data processing software and conversion algorithms are functioning properly and that delivered data products accurately reflect the telemetered and recovered data collected by the deployed instrumentation.  Preloaded NetCDF files for essential ocean variables are being created and will be available for download in their entirety from a THREDDS server in the coming weeks. Evaluations of data science quality are ongoing and will continue over the next several months.

Next week, Jan. 5-7, the OOSC and UNOLs will host a workshop on OOI Coastal Data at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, VA.  The goal of this public workshop is to provide a forum for potential users to further their understanding of the capabilities of OOI, and to learn possible approaches for accessing the data.

We continue to provide interim delivery of the Cabled Array seismometer and bottom pressure data through IRIS http://www.iris.edu/hq/.  Delivery of Cabled Array tilt meter and co-located temperature plots continue through Dr. Bill Chadwick’s website.

You can subscribe to a mailing list to received updates and notification as additional data and functionality becomes available. We also look forward to your feedback as well as suggestions on the tools that would increase the efficiency of synthesizing the diverse data collected by the program.

For specific questions, please contact the HelpDesk.

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Testing over the weekend of the Cyberinfrastructure software upgrade identified some key issues that prevented the software from being released today as planned.

As the CI team works to resolve these issues, they will be able to make available incremental releases of data through the OOI website. The first of these releases should occur early next week. Details of each incremental release will be posted on the OOI website, including which data are available and instructions of how to access and download these data. Users can expect to see expanded data availability on a continuous basis with delivery accelerating as the software issues are resolved.

The OOI is successfully receiving data streams from deployed assets at all seven arrays. Those data are being archived within the OOI CI and the historical data sets will be made available upon release of the OOI Data Portal. Historical datasets begin in 2013 for the Pioneer Array, the Cabled Array, and Station Papa; in 2014 for Endurance Array and the Irminger Sea Array; and in 2015 for the Argentine Basin and Southern Ocean Arrays.

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Fall 2015 marked the completion of the build and deployment phase of all OOI marine infrastructure, including 7 arrays, 59 instrumented sites, 36 mobile assets, and over 800 instruments. The OOI Cyberinfrastructure system handles observatory mission command and control, management of data streams, and facilitates data download via an online user interface. The COL team has been focused on readying this CI for public access.

Cyberinfrastructure is undergoing a large software update that is currently in process.  The software update is critical for access, as it provides essential bug fixes in data processing identified during internal system testing, as well as key enhancements to the user interface.  The OOI CI system will be made available to the public on Monday, December 7.  Expanded details about the specific roll-out schedule will also be posted on the OOI website early next week.  

For specific questions, please contact the HelpDesk –  help@oceanobservatories.org

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Ocean robots installed off the coast of Massachusetts have helped scientists understand a previously unknown process by which warm Gulf Stream water and colder waters of the continental shelf exchange. The process occurs when offshore waters, originating in the tropics, intrude onto the Mid-Atlantic Bight shelf and meet the waters originating in regions near the Arctic. This process can greatly affect shelf circulation, biogeochemistry and fisheries.

In 2006, scientists using satellite imagery observed an elongated body of warm water from a Gulf Stream warm-core ring intruding along the shelf edge, extending hundreds of miles from Massachusetts towards Cape Hatteras, NC.

“A lot of people were surprised by this,” said Weifeng ‘Gordon’ Zhang, associate scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), and lead author of the study published today in Geophysical Research Letters. “Normally, the Gulf Stream water, which is very warm and buoyant, doesn’t come in direct contact with the water on the continental shelf, which is much colder. There is a cascade of potential implications that need further study.”

Until now, scientists had been unable to study the phenomenon because satellites can only sense the ocean surface, and no data about the structure of the intrusion water below the surface were available. However, in April 2014, water column data in this area became available from preliminary deployments from the National Science Foundation-funded Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI). Specifically, autonomous vehicles called “gliders” that collect data along a pre-defined path in the ocean, were deployed at the OOI Pioneer Array site south of Cape Cod. Zhang and his colleagues used preliminary glider data, collected from April through June 2014 and publicly available on the OOI website, to generate the first profile of the complex, layered masses of water at this vital point in the ocean.

“The edge of the continental shelf is a key location where dense, nutrient rich water ‘upwells’ to the surface, stimulating growth at the base of the food web,” said co-author Glen Gawarkiewicz, a senior scientist at WHOI. “This water is normally sandwiched between colder, fresher water on the shelf and warmer Gulf Stream waters offshore. Understanding changes in this region has important societal and economic implications.”

Satellite imagery shows five similar-looking intrusion events have occurred between 2007-2014 in the winter and spring seasons. Zhang and Gawarkiewicz have dubbed the events “Pinocchio’s Nose Intrusions” (PNI) because the warm water intrudes onto the shelf and continues to “grow” for hundreds of miles, moving in the opposite direction from the northeastward movement of the Gulf Stream.

Until this new research was conducted, one proposed explanation was that the warm waters were swept up in the shelf break jet, a current that moves toward the southwest direction along the shelf edge. Zhang calls this “the deception or lie” of the Pinocchio’s Nose Intrusion. “If the intrusion was caused by the shelfbreak jet,” said Zhang, “this feature would most likely be a very thin, superficial feature on the surface.” In contrast, thanks to the data collected by the OOI Pioneer Array gliders before and after the PNI formed, the scientists determined these intrusions are nearly 100 meters deep, extending almost to the seafloor.

Rotating warm core rings form in the deep ocean and eventually pinch off from the Gulf Stream, heading in a northwest direction onto the shallower continental slope. The outer limbs of the rings hit the slope first, and are squeezed by the rising sea floor. Once reaching the shelf, they follow the shelf edge extending to the southwest forming the long nose shape. Eventually, the extension stops, and thin filaments coming out of the north side of the nose penetrate further onto the shelf.

The OOI Pioneer Array data also allowed scientists to understand the complexities of what is driving the density of the various water masses at this unique location. Under normal conditions, the density in the region is controlled by the salinity. The shelf water is fresher than offshore water and therefore more buoyant than saltier offshore water. However, during a PNI event, the shelf water is less buoyant than the offshore water because of a huge temperature difference–approximately 25-30 degrees Fahrenheit–between the shelf waters and the intrusion waters.

“Because the Gulf Stream water is so outrageously warm, density now is controlled by the temperature, and the intrusion water is more buoyant, despite being saltier,” said Zhang.

The changes in temperature, density and circulation all have major implications for the fisheries in the area.

“I showed the glider data to a group of commercial fisherman back in April, in Rhode Island, and they were very surprised,” said Gawarkiewicz. “They couldn’t believe the temperature can change by that much, that quickly.”

The scientists believe the PNI process might assist in the transport of young fish, like American eel, across the shelfbreak barrier and onto the shelf, where they can swim toward coastal estuaries. For American eels, this is an important step of their reproductive migration journey and crucial for their survival. The baby eels have to make it from the spawning ground in the tropics to their estuarine and freshwater habitats on the US northeast coast in the first year of their life. The direct intrusion of the Gulf Stream water onto the shelf can help them reach their destination without being swept away, and may increase their survival rate. But for other species, the intrusion might bring in the low nutrient Gulf Stream surface water and suppress the upwelling of cold, dense, nutrient-rich water, and thereby reduce biological productivity in a region that is otherwise known for its fertile fishing grounds.

“I just find it extraordinary that the Pioneer Array gliders were out for a month, and we have already identified a new shelf break exchange process,” said Gawarkiewicz. “It just goes to show how much more we have to learn in the shelf-wide ecosystem.”

“I am very proud of our WHOI scientists, Weifeng Zhang and Glen Gawarkiewicz,” said Representative William Keating (D-MA). “Their discovery serves as a reminder of the critical need for continued and more frequent ocean observation, as well as the interconnectedness of the health of our oceans and the health of our marine ecosystems. WHOI has long been an international leader in oceanography, with groundbreaking research unveiling countless discoveries that have changed the field. This breakthrough is no different. As we continue to study and understand the magnitude and impacts of the changes of ocean temperatures and circulation, WHOI’s research and resources will be invaluable.”

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The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. For more information, please visit http://www.whoi.edu.

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The second annual Our Ocean 2015 Conference was held in in Valparaiso, Chile on October 5-6, 2015. 

This year, more than 400 leaders dedicated to protecting the ocean participated in the conference with the goal for each to commit to concrete actions to protect ocean areas and marine resources.

Secretary of State John Kerry gave opening remarks at the conference alongside of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile, Heraldo Munoz and the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet. In his opening remarks, Secretary Kerry highlighted the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) as one of the United States projects committed to preserving the ocean.  He pointed out that not only is the OOI important in terms of its breadth of the infrastructure, but also in its’accessibility to the public:  “[W]e’ll be putting all of the information that we collect online – much of it in real time – so that the public or anybody who wants to can better understand ocean acidification and other changes taking place – and ultimately, better address and adapt to them.”

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