After ten weeks of preparation, two weeks of isolation, documentation of negative COVID-19 tests, temperatures taken, and personal protective gear in place, nine science team members from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) will depart on the R/V Neil Armstrong from Woods Hole, MA on Sunday 7 June 2020 for an 11-day expedition to service the Pioneer Array, a collection of ocean observing equipment off the New England coast, about 75 nautical miles south of Martha’s Vineyard.
The Pioneer mission is the first science expedition to leave Woods Hole following a “pause” in research expeditions imposed in March by UNOLS (University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System). UNOLS coordinates the U.S. academic research fleet ship schedules and has established guidelines for COVID prevention and mitigation aboard these ships. The journey aboard the R/V Neil Armstrong is the second UNOLS science expedition to leave port with new stringent COVID-prevention protocols in place.
“We’ve worked extremely hard to implement measures that will help ensure the safety and health of our scientific party and crew members aboard the R/V Neil Armstrong,” said Al Plueddemann, chief scientist for the Pioneer Array expedition and a research scientist at WHOI. “It’s been an extensive planning and re-planning effort as our procedures had to adapt to changing circumstances.”
“We’ve had to reduce our scientific team significantly to ensure there is enough social distancing room aboard the ship, and condense the work into one cruise leg instead of two, which forced us to scale back the scientific mission, as well. But with the extensive precautionary measures in place, we are able to provide much needed service to the array, while also ensuring the cruise is sufficiently low risk to all personnel involved.”
The Pioneer Array is a collection of long-term oceanographic observing equipment that provides continuous ocean measurements over a period of years. The data collected are sent via satellite to a network server on shore for use by scientists, educators, and others. The data are available for everyone to use in as near real-time as possible. These long time-series data are helping to advance ocean research, understanding of ocean processes, and the changing ocean. The equipment requires regular maintenance to ensure that it can continually collect and disseminate biological, physical, and chemical ocean observations for the the oceanographic community and others who have come to rely on it. The Pioneer Array is one of five ocean observing arrays collecting real-time ocean data as part of the National Science Foundation funded Ocean Observatories Initiative.
Extensive precautionary measures were necessary to enable the ship and its passengers to conduct the science mission safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Preparations began with trying to figure out the appropriate length and circumstances under which the scientific party and crew members could quarantine prior to heading out to sea, then evolved into gaining access to COVID-19 testing and labs to process the results, determining how to house the scientific party while in quarantine and onboard the vessel, and defining social distancing and protective gear that would be needed while at sea,” said Derek Buffitt, program manager for the Coastal Global Scale Node arrays, which includes the Pioneer Array.
Once such decisions were made, other practical considerations were tackled, such as how to:
- store used personal protective gear while at sea for onshore disposal,
- arrange bunks to minimize shared space,
- feed passengers and maintain social distances in shared common spaces,
- maintain the operational safety of the smaller science party,
- prioritize the scientific objectives to ensure the most effective use of the ship time, and
- respond if someone presented COVID-19 symptoms while at sea.
“The Pioneer expedition departure on Sunday will represent the successful culmination of preparations for the new normal of conducting research at sea during a pandemic,” added Plueddemann.Read More
In July, OOI will launch the Beta version of our new and improved data discovery tool. We are asking for the community’s help in naming the tool, which will make it possible to:
- search and download cabled, uncabled, and recovered data from for in situ physical, chemical, geological, and biological observations
- compare datasets across regions and disciplines
- generate and share custom data views
- download full data sets using ERDDAP
Want to take a crack at coming up with a name? The selected winner will receive an OOI hat in recognition of his/her creativity. If there is more than one winner, each will receive an OOI hat.
The deadline for submission is 15 May 2020. Please submit your nominations to email@example.com, with subject line: “I deserve a hat!Read More
The University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS), which coordinates oceanographic ships’ schedules, recommended on 17 March 2020 that cruise activities be paused for 30 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On 30 March UNOLS extended its guidance to suspend research cruises to July 1 2020. This action is designed to protect the health and safety of the crews and scientific parties.
The planned spring operation and maintenance (O&M) cruise to the Endurance Array in March was affected by the original 30-day guidance. The upcoming O&M cruises for the Pioneer, Irminger, and Papa Arrays aboard R/V Neil Armstrong and R/V Sikuliaq are impacted by this latest guidance.
The OOI is working with UNOLS and ship operators to find potential opportunities to complete the scheduled cruises and conduct needed maintenance on the arrays. In the meantime, there’s been no interruption in OOI data. OOI data continue to be collected and made available for use by the scientific and educational communities.Read More
OOI data team members have developed a new toolbox for downloading data from the Machine-to-Machine (M2M) interface using MATLAB, making data access as easy as 1, 2, 3. The work expands on the existing tools available on OOI. This new toolbox covers data from moorings, gliders, and profilers in the OOI Coastal Arrays and can easily be extended to other research platforms. A video tutorial on how to use this new tool is provided above. (A pdf of the tutorial is provided below).
In three short steps – define the mooring, node, and instrument – users can easily and quickly access relevant OOI data. “This new approach eliminates some steps and makes it easy for anyone to find and access data they are looking for, “said Jonathan Fram, OOI Endurance Array Project Manager at Oregon State University (OSU). “We found this new approach really streamlined data access using the M2M interface and we are certain other OOI data users will find it similarly helpful.”
Developed by OOI OSU team members, Craig Risien and Russ Desiderio, these new tools are part of our ongoing effort to simplify access to OOI data to encourage its broader integration into scientific research and classroom content. A tutorial showing how to use MATLAB to access OOI data can be viewed here.
Other members of the OOI OSU team, Chris Wingard and Ian Black, are testing Python and R tools to explore OOI data, as well. Once the tools have been tested and vetted, they will be available along with other community-generated tools here.
This new tutorial adds to others that have been developed to help users integrate OOI data into their science.Read More
Dr. Jonathan Fram, project manager for the Endurance Array, is quoted in this Eos article about the potential implications of the cancellation of the spring cruise to recover and redeploy equipment at the Endurance Array:
With research cruises postponed, scientists are trying to get home safe, and others worry about the fate of their instruments left at sea.
Past Plans Scrapped…
Scientists around the world are scrambling to adjust to a rapidly changing environment. Researchers are shuttering their labs, switching to remote observing on telescopes, and learning to present their work virtually.
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“Just like lightning,” in one-minute presentations, 15 scientists shared amazing ways they are using OOI data in scientific investigations and in the classroom. This round of lightning talks capped the Ocean Observatories Initiative Facility Board’s (OOIFB) Town Hall at the 2020 Ocean Sciences Meeting on 20 February, demonstrating the multiple and creative ways OOI data are being used to answer key science questions in a changing environment.
The presentations ranged from how students are using real-life and real-time OOI data to advance their understanding of scientific principles to how researchers are using OOI data to identify the presence of marine life by sound to how modelers are making OOI data more accessible and useable.
“We were simply thrilled by the depth, breadth, and range of applications of OOI data shown during this lightning round,” Kendra Daly, chair of the OOIFB. “We were pleased so many presenters were willing to accept the challenge. This enthusiastic response clearly shows that OOI data are being used to help answer important science questions.”
Brief summaries of the talks are presented below.
Isabela Le Bras, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, reported on a recent article in Geophysical Research Letters, where she and her colleagues describe how they used data from the Irminger Sea Array moorings (2014–2016) to identify two water masses formed by convection and showing that they have different rates of export in the western boundary current. Upper Irminger Sea Intermediate Water appears to form near the boundary current and is exported rapidly within three months of its formation. Deep Irminger Sea Intermediate Water forms in the basin interior and is exported on longer time scales. The subduction of these waters into the boundary current is consistent with an eddy transport mechanism. The eddy transport process is more effective for the waters cooled near the boundary current, implying that cooling near boundary currents may be more important for the climate than has been appreciated to date.
Since 2017, Clare Reimers and Kristen Fogaren, Oregon State University, have been working to assess seasonal variability in benthic oxygen consumption and the contribution of benthic respiration to the development of hypoxic conditions in the northern California Current, using time series data from the OOI Endurance Array. Reimers and Fogaren measured benthic oxygen consumption rates using in situ eddy covariation techniques and ex situ core incubations, during a series of ten cruises that allowed sampling near the Endurance Oregon Shelf and Inshore stations, in all seasons. During these cruises, the researchers used real-time data provided by the Endurance Array to optimize the settings for their eddy covariance deployments. They are now examining property-relationships in discrete bottom water samples collected during the cruises and using data from OOI assets to help separate influences of mixing and biochemical processes in the water column and sediments. The researchers are also synthesizing benthic flux measurements and placing these rates in the context of cross-shelf glider measurements and benthic node time series.
Adrienne Silver, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth provided details about how she is using Pioneer Array data to learn more about the influence of warm core rings on Shelf break circulation. Results from a 40-year Warm Core Ring census show a regime shift in warm core ring formation at 2000, with the number of rings doubling from an average of 18 rings per year (during 1980-1999) to 33 rings per year (during 2000-2019). This regime shift creates a large increase in the amount of warm salty water being transported northward toward the shelf from the Gulf Stream. The preferred pathway of these rings, or the Ring Corridor seem to indicate their proximity to the shelf break and the Pioneer array during their lifetime. The goal of Silver’s project is to understand how these warm core rings affect the shelf break exchange while traveling along the shelf. A large focus of the study will be on the salinity intrusion events which might be sourced from these warm core rings.
Liz Ferguson, CEO and founder of Ocean Science Analytics, is using data from OOI’s Coastal Endurance and Regional Cabled Arrays to determine the variables that are most useful for assessing the ecosystem of this region and obtaining baseline information on marine mammal acoustic presence for use in monitoring. Using long term physical and biological data provided by these arrays, Ferguson is assessing long-standing shifts in the ecology of this coastal and offshore environment by associating physical oceanographic variables with the vocal presence of marine mammals using the broadband hydrophone data. Temporal changes in the occurrence of marine mammal species such as killer whales, sperm whales and dolphins can be used as an indicator of ecosystem shifts over time. She is analyzing passive acoustic data provided by the OOI arrays to determine the presence of vocally active marine mammal species, identify their spatial and temporal use of these sites, and combining this information with the physical oceanographic variables to assess the ecological characteristics associated with marine mammal occurrence.
Sam Urmy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) also is using OOI acoustical data in his research. Using an upward-looking echosounder and a high-frequency hydrophone at MBARI’s Monterey Accelerated Research System, Urmy showed how small animals in the epipelagic and mesopelagic altered their behavior in response to predators. These responses included abrupt dives during bouts of foraging by dolphins, changes in depth to avoid predatory fish schools, and dramatic alterations to daily vertical migratory behavior. Continual observations of the mesopelagic with active and passive acoustics are revealing several dynamic predator-prey interactions in an ecosystem that is typically thought of as relatively slow and static.
Veronica Tamsitt of the University of New South Wales used the OOI’s Southern Ocean mooring and the Southern Ocean Flux Site (SOFS, in the Southeast Indian) to study the Sub Antarctic Mode water (SAMW) formation. Tamsitt’s and her colleagues findings were reported in the Journal of Climate in March 2020. Using data from the two mooring locations, the researchers were able to compare and contrast characteristics and variability of air-sea heat fluxes, mixed-layer depths, and SAMW formation. The researchers found that inter mixed-layer depth anomalies tended to be intermittent at the two moorings, where anomalously deep mixed layers were associated with anomalous advection of cold air from the south, and conversely shallow mixed layers correspond to warm air from the north. Both the winter heat flux and mixed-layer depth anomalies, however, showed a complex spatial pattern, with both positive and negative anomalies in both the Indian and Pacific basins that Tasmitt and colleagues relate to the leading modes of climate variability in the Southern Ocean.
Editor’s note: The Southern Ocean Array was decommissioned in January 2020. Its data, however, are still available for use by researchers, students, and the public.
Bringing OOI data into the classroom
Sage Lichtenwalner, Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey reported on the progress of the Ocean Data Labs Project. This project is a Rutgers-led effort to build a “Community of Practice” to tap into the firehose of OOI ocean data to support undergraduate education. To date, the project has hosted four “development” workshops that introduced participants to the OOI, conducted data processing with Python notebooks, and shared effective teaching strategies, in addition to a series of introductory workshops and webinars. As part of the development workshops, 56 university, college, and community college faculty designed 19 new “Data Explorations,” featuring web-based interactive “widgets” that allow students to interact with pre-selected data from the OOI. The project also sponsors a series of webinars, a fellowship program, and is compiling a library of resources (including coding notebooks, datasets, and case studies in teaching) to help the community.
Cheryl Greengrove, University of Washington Tacoma, summarized an article in the March issue of Oceanography that she and colleagues from across the United States wrote detailing ways to integrate OOI data into the undergraduate curriculum. The wealth of freely-accessible data provided by OOI platforms, many of which can be viewed in real or near-real time, provides an opportunity to bring these authentic data into undergraduate classrooms. The TOS article highlights existing educational resources derived from OOI data that are ready for other educators to incorporate into their own classrooms, as well as presents opportunities for new resources to be developed by the community. Examples of undergraduate introductory oceanography OOI data-based lessons using existing interactive online data widgets with curated OOI data on primary productivity, salinity, and tectonics and seamounts are presented, as well as ways to use OOI data to engage students in undergraduate research. The authors provide a synthesis of existing tools and resources as a practical how-to guide to support new resource development and invite other educators to develop and implement new educational resources based on OOI data.
Matthew Iacchei, Hawaiʻi Pacific University, presented how he has been integrating OOI data explorations to supplement his upper division oceanography lecture and labs with real data from around the world. Last semester, he had students explore patterns of dissolved oxygen and impacts of anoxia at the coastal endurance array in Oregon and compare that data to dissolved oxygen data the students collected in Kāneʻohe Bay, Hawaiʻi. This semester, students are working through two exercises with OOI data as part of their primary productivity lab (perfect, as it is now online!). Students will compare vertical profiles from Hawaiʻi with seasonal variations across the world, and will compare latitudinal drivers of primary production using data from a time-series from the Southern Ocean Array.
Strengthening OOI data usability
Wu-Jung Lee, a senior oceanographer at the Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, is using data collected by the OOI to develop new methodologies for analyzing long-term ocean sonar time series. In a project funded by the National Science Foundation, she and her colleagues show that unsupervised matrix decomposition techniques are effective in discovering dominant patterns from large volumes of data, which can be used to describe changes in the sonar observation. Their preliminary analysis also show that the summaries provided by these methods facilitate direct comparison and interpretation with other ocean environmental parameters concurrently recorded by the OOI. A parallel effort that spun out of this project is an open-source software package echopype, which was created to enable interoperable and scalable processing of biological information from ocean sonar data.
As part of the Rutgers Ocean Modeling Group, in conjunction with University of California Santa Cruz, John Wilkin and Elias Hunter are delivering a high-resolution data assimilative ocean model analysis of the environs of the Pioneer Coastal Array, including a systematic evaluation of the information content of different elements of the observing network. The project uses the Regional Ocean Modeling System with 4-Dimensional Variational data assimilation. To produce a comprehensive multi-year (2014-2018) analysis required them to assimilate all available Pioneer CTD data, with quality checks, in a rolling sequence of data assimilation analysis intervals. They used three days of data in each analysis, which required queries to with a time range constraint and relevant platform (i.e. glider, profiler, fixed sensor), migrating all Pioneer CTD data (wire following profilers, gliders, fixed sensors, plus ADCP velocity) to an ERDDAP server. The simple graphing capabilities in ERDDAP allow quick browsing of the data to trace quality control or availability issues, and ERDDAP provides a robust back-end to other web services to create more sophisticated graphical views, or time series analysis. Using the ERDDAP Slide Sorter tool, they operate a quick look Control Panel to monitor the data availability and quality.
Mitchell Scott and colleagues Aaron Marburg and Bhuvan Malladihalli Shashidhara at the University of Washington, are studying how to segment macrofauna from the background environment using OOI data from the Regional Cabled Axial Seamount Array. Their long-term goal is to use an automated approach to study species variation over time, and against other environmental factors. Their initial step focuses specifically on scale worms, which are very camouflaged, making them difficult to detect. To address this, the researchers initially used a deep learning model, called U-Net, to detect and localize the scale worm locations within an image. To address the high rate of false positives using this model, they added an additional classifier (a VGG-16 model) to verify the presence of scaleworms. This combined, applied approach proved feasible for scale worm detection and localization. Yet because the environment of the Axial Seamount is so dynamic due to the growth and decay of chimneys at the site and resulting changes in bacteria and macrofauna present, they found the performance of the model decreased over time.
Weifeng (Gordon) Zhang of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has been using Pioneer Array data to understand the physical processes occurring at the Mid-Atlantic Bight shelf break, including the intrusion of Gulf Stream warm-core ring water onto the shelf and the ring-induced subduction of the biologically productive shelf water into the slope sea. His findings were reported in a Geophysical Research Letters paper where data from the Pioneer Array moorings and gliders demonstrated the anomalous intrusion of the warm and salty ring water onto the shelf and revealed the subsurface structure of the intrusion. Zhang also shared findings reported in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans where data from the Pioneer Array showed a distinct pattern of relatively cold and fresh shelf water going underneath the intruding ring water. These results show the subduction of the shelf water into the slope sea and a pathway of shelf water exiting the shelf. In both instances, Zhang and his colleagues used computer modeling to study the dynamics of these water masses. These two studies together suggest that shelf break processes are complex and require more studies in the region.
Hilary Palevsky of Boston College presented results from an ongoing project funded by the National Science Foundation’s Chemical Oceanography program, using biogeochemical data from the OOI Irminger Sea Array. Analysis of dissolved oxygen data on OOI Irminger Sea gliders and moorings from 2014-2016 showed the importance of biogeochemical data collected over the full seasonal cycle and throughout the entire water column, due to the influence of subsurface respiration and deep winter convection on biological carbon sequestration. The OOI Irminger Sea array is the first source of such full-depth year-round data in the subpolar North Atlantic. To quantitatively evaluate the annual rate of carbon sequestration by the biological pump and the role of deep winter convection, Palevsky and colleague David Nicholson of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution collaborated with OOI to improve the calibration of oxygen data at the Irminger Sea array by modifying the configuration of glider oxygen sensors to enable calibration in air each time the glider surfaces, which improves the accuracy and utility of the data collected both from gliders and from moorings. Palevsky presented preliminary results demonstrating successful glider air calibration at the Irminger array in 2018-2019 as well as work by student Lucy Wanzer, Wellesley College, demonstrating the importance of well-calibrated oxygen time series data to determine interannual variability in rates of subsurface respiration and deep winter ventilation in the Irminger Sea.
The spring 2020 OOI Endurance Operations and Management (O&M) turn cruise has been canceled due to travel and personnel restrictions imposed to stem the spread of the virus COVID-19. The 16-day cruise was set to depart on 31 March from Newport, Oregon aboard the R/V Sikuliaq to service the array off the Oregon and Washington coasts.
Jonathan Fram, Program Manager of the Endurance Array, explains in this EOS article some of the possible implications of the cancellation, which may range from some of the moorings losing power, to the gliders running out of batteries, to possibly missing the recording data documenting the coastal ocean’s transition from winter to spring.
The fall 2020 Endurance turn cruise (currently scheduled for September) is expected to take place.Read More
Five years of data have made a significant difference in understanding of the complex processes occurring in the remote and hostile conditions of the Southern Ocean. In its five years of deployment, OOI’s Southern Ocean Array has provided critical data that enhanced weather modeling and forecasting, while providing means to study the mechanisms behind Southern Ocean warming and the storage of carbon at depth.
Four OOI moorings were deployed in February 2015 in a very sparsely sampled area in the Southern Ocean (55 degrees South, 90 degrees W) with the goal of helping modelers, forecasters and scientists understand this dynamic and volatile environment. One mooring was decommissioned in 2017. Two bottom halves remained in place through 2018 and a single surface mooring remained in place through January 2020. Collectively, these deployments provided a continual treasure trove of data to scientists, modelers, and forecasters.
This data stream is particularly important because the Southern Ocean is not only warming faster than other parts of the world ocean, it has also been implicated as the major region for ocean uptake of carbon dioxide.
“Collecting continuous data in this sparsely sampled region has provided a groundtruth point to help refine climate models and weather forecasts, and better understand complex processes occurring in the Southern Ocean,” said Dr. Sheri N. White, lead systems engineer for the Coastal Global Scale Nodes of OOI at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and chief scientist on the 2018 and 2020 OOI expeditions that recovered the Southern Array.
The benefits of deployment were evident. When the moorings were first deployed in 2015, data were not initially integrated into the World Meteorological Organization’s Global Telecommunication System (GTS). In August 2017, when the data were added to the GTS, making them more easily accessible for weather forecasters and modelers, they had an almost immediate impact on forecasting by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). In August 2017, for example, OOI’s Surface Buoy picked up a low-pressure system moving through the area. Integrating these data into forecast models, researchers filled in some key spatial gaps in their observational coverage, reducing the error in 24-hour forecasts. With improved data, ECMWF was better able to forecast the next huge Southern Ocean storm with a central pressure around 955 mb that had simultaneous major impacts on southern South America, Drake Passage, and the Antarctic Peninsula.
The Southern Ocean Array also provided a platform for interagency and interdisciplinary collaborations. The National Science Foundation and its UK counterpart, the National Environmental Research Council joined forces to support two expeditions in 2018 and 2020. The 2018 expedition recovered the bottom halves of the moorings, while outfitting the surface mooring with equipment to measure silicate and nitrate using “lab-on-a-chip” technology (miniaturized analytical devices that integrate laboratory operations into a single chip on a very small scale.) This work was an investigation undertaken by Dr. Adrian Martin of the UK’s National Oceanography Centre and an investigator for CUSTARD (Carbon Uptake and Seasonal Traits in Antarctic Remineralisation Depth). The sensors and the surface mooring were recovered during the 2020 expedition.
“CUSTARD focuses on how interactions between marine organisms, nutrients in the water and the ocean circulation control the storage of carbon at depth. To do so requires information through the year because of the boom and bust seasonal cycle of phytoplankton,” explained Martin. “The mooring gave us both a variety of important data as well as a platform to deploy some of our own sensors year-round in the challenging environment of the Southern Ocean. The CUSTARD project benefited immensely from our collaboration with OOI. “
The OOI moorings also provided scientists with a means to study the mechanisms behind Southern Ocean warming. In a study led by Sarah Ogle of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, scientists found that just a few extreme storm events drive most of the mixed-layer deepening, suggesting that air-sea heat exchange is a highly episodic process.
“Only the largest storm events each year are able to mix the upper ocean enough to influence the ocean interior,” said Dr. Sarah Gille, also of Scripps and a member of OOI’s Facility Board. “With the removal of OOI, we’ve lost one window into these big events, but from the OOI data, we’ve gained some perspective on what types of measurements need to be collected to understand air-sea exchange in the region. In the future, I hope that we’ll be able to make use of newer autonomous systems to continue the research started in the Southern Ocean with OOI.”[media-caption type="vimeo" path="https://vimeo.com/398932101" link="#"] Crew members recover the last Southern Array Surface Mooring (9000+ lbs) aboard the RRS Discovery, operated by the Natural Environment Research Council.Video courtesy of Dr. Adrian P. Martin, National Oceanography Centre [/media-caption] Read More
The spring 2020 OOI Endurance Operations and Management (O&M) turn cruise has been delayed for at least 30 days due to travel and personnel restrictions imposed to stem the spread of the virus COVID-19.
The 16-day cruise was set to depart on 31 March from Newport, Oregon aboard the R/V Sikuliaq to service the array off the Oregon and Washington coasts. The R/V Sikuliaq is part of the US academic research fleet managed by UNOLS (the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System). UNOLS imposed a 30-day suspension in fleet operations on 13 March to help ensure the safety of the ship’s crew and science party and to mitigate the risk of virus spread. Rescheduling of activities will commence once the situation stabilizes and UNOLS sees a path forward to re-start research vessel operations safely.
Upcoming O&M cruises for the Pioneer, Irminger, and Papa Arrays also are scheduled aboard UNOLS vessels (R/V Neil Armstrong and R/V Sikuliaq). These cruises fall outside of the UNOLS current 30-day suspension so cruise preparation continues.
We do not anticipate that cruise schedule changes will affect the collection nor dissemination of OOI data, which will continue to be available for users here.