Funded by the National Science Foundation, OOI was designed as a long-term project to collect ocean data for up to 25 years or more. This longevity makes it possible to measure and directly observe both short-lived episodic events and longer term changes occurring in the ocean. Such data makes it possible to better understand ocean processes and how the ocean is changing.
The OOI consists of five arrays that are continually collecting data about ocean conditions. These marine arrays are outfitted with some 800 instruments — of 36 different types — measuring more than 200 different parameters. The instrumented arrays gather physical, chemical, geological, and biological data from the air-sea interface to the seafloor, providing a wealth of information for research and education.
The data collected are transmitted through a cyberinfrastructure, making it possible for anyone with an Internet connection to download ocean data in real time.
As an open community resource, researchers are encouraged to add instrumentation to OOI arrays and to write data-driven proposals that use OOI data to help answer research questions.
The OOI is facilitating fundamental, interdisciplinary research that is contributing to advancing knowledge and understanding of the changing ocean, including:
- Climate variability, ocean food webs, and biogeochemical cycles
- Coastal ocean dynamics and ecosystems
- Global and plate-scale geodynamics
- Turbulent mixing and biophysical interactions
- Fluid-rock interactions and the sub-seafloor biosphere
A complete review of the history of the OOI can be found here.