[Senate Hearing 113-268]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
S. Hrg. 113-268
DEEP SEA CHALLENGE: INNOVATIVE PARTNERSHIPS IN OCEAN OBSERVATION
SUBCOMMITTEE ON OCEANS, ATMOSPHERE,
FISHERIES, AND COAST GUARD
COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE,
SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
UNITED STATES SENATE
ONE HUNDRED THIRTEENTH CONGRESS
JUNE 11, 2013
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SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
ONE HUNDRED THIRTEENTH CONGRESS
JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV, West Virginia, Chairman
BARBARA BOXER, California JOHN THUNE, South Dakota, Ranking
BILL NELSON, Florida ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi
MARIA CANTWELL, Washington ROY BLUNT, Missouri
MARK PRYOR, Arkansas MARCO RUBIO, Florida
CLAIRE McCASKILL, Missouri KELLY AYOTTE, New Hampshire
AMY KLOBUCHAR, Minnesota DEAN HELLER, Nevada
MARK WARNER, Virginia DAN COATS, Indiana
MARK BEGICH, Alaska TIM SCOTT, South Carolina
RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, Connecticut TED CRUZ, Texas
BRIAN SCHATZ, Hawaii DEB FISCHER, Nebraska
WILLIAM COWAN, Massachusetts RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin
JEFF CHIESA, New Jersey
Ellen L. Doneski, Staff Director
James Reid, Deputy Staff Director
John Williams, General Counsel
David Schwietert, Republican Staff Director
Nick Rossi, Republican Deputy Staff Director
Rebecca Seidel, Republican General Counsel and Chief Investigator
SUBCOMMITTEE ON OCEANS, ATMOSPHERE, FISHERIES,
AND COAST GUARD
MARK BEGICH, Alaska, Chairman MARCO RUBIO, Florida, Ranking
BILL NELSON, Florida Member
MARIA CANTWELL, Washington ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi
RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, Connecticut KELLY AYOTTE, New Hampshire
BRIAN SCHATZ, Hawaii DAN COATS, Indiana
WILLIAM COWAN, Massachusetts TIM SCOTT, South Carolina
TED CRUZ, Texas
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held on June 11, 2013.................................... 1
Statement of Senator Begich...................................... 1
Statement of Senator Wicker...................................... 3
Statement of Senator Cantwell.................................... 8
James Cameron, Explorer and Filmmaker............................ 4
Prepared statement........................................... 6
Dr. Susan K. Avery, President and Director, Woods Hole
Oceanographic Institution...................................... 9
Prepared statement........................................... 11
Captain Edward Page, Board Chair, Alaska Ocean Observing System
and Executive Director, Marine Exchange of Alaska.............. 19
Prepared statement........................................... 21
Jan Newton, Ph.D., Executive Director, Northwest Association of
Networked Ocean Observing Systems; Principal Oceanographer,
University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory; and
Affiliate Assistant Professor, University of Washington School
of Oceanography................................................ 23
Prepared statement........................................... 26
Hon. John Thune, U.S. Senator from South Dakota, prepared
Dr. Michael Heithaus, Associate Dean, College of Arts and
Sciences, Florida International University, Aquarious Reef Base
and Partnerships in Ocean Observations, prepared statement..... 41
Written Testimony from Julie Thomas, President, The IOOS
Letter dated June 18, 2013 from Jean Walat, Program Director,
Port Townsend Marine Science Center............................ 47
Letter dated June 18, 2013 from Martha Kongsgaard, Leadership
Council Chair, Puget Sound Partnership to Hon. Mark Begich and
Hon. Marco Rubio............................................... 48
Response to written questions submitted by Hon. Amy Klobuchar to:
Dr. Susan K. Avery........................................... 49
James Cameron................................................ 50
Response to written questions submitted by Hon. John Thune to:
James Cameron................................................ 51
Dr. Susan K. Avery........................................... 55
Jan Newton, Ph.D. and Edward Page............................ 59
DEEP SEA CHALLENGE: INNOVATIVE PARTNERSHIPS IN OCEAN OBSERVATION
TUESDAY, JUNE 11, 2013
Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 3 p.m. in room
SR-253, Russell Senate Office Building, Hon. Mark Begich,
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. MARK BEGICH,
U.S. SENATOR FROM ALASKA
Senator Begich. Thank you all for being here this
afternoon. Appreciate it.
This hearing will come to order. This is the Oceans
Subcommittee hearing on ``Deep Sea Challenge: Innovative
Partnerships in Ocean Observation.'' So, again, thank you all
very much for being here.
I will make a few opening comments, I will turn to Senator
Wicker, and then we will start with the panel. But, again, we
really appreciate you taking the time.
I was joking just a minute ago that it was like, when I
walked in, I saw the big line out there, I am glad I bought my
advance movie ticket to be here today.
Senator Begich. Otherwise, I am not sure I would have got
in. But I am glad I am here.
Again, I want to thank the witnesses for being here,
especially James Cameron.
Film director James Cameron is most widely known for taking
audiences truly out of this world in blockbuster hits like
``Aliens'' and ``Avatar,'' but it is his nonfiction endeavors
here on Earth that may be actually most alien to us. Last year,
in a partnership with the National Geographic Society and
Rolex, Mr. Cameron undertook the most difficult ocean dive
possible, descending to the Challenger Deep in the Pacific
Ocean's Mariana Trench.
The Challenger Deep is the deepest known part of the
Earth's oceans, more than 6.8 miles underwater. Mr. Cameron is
the first person to have undertaken the dive alone and is one
of the only three humans to ever reach that depth. By contrast,
more than 500 people have traveled into outer space.
It is astounding that, in many ways, we know more about the
final frontier than about our own oceans. Ninety percent of the
ocean floor remains uncharted, and recent estimates suggest
that we have only identified 20 to 25 percent of the marine
life in existence.
To further understanding of our oceans, Mr. Cameron
recently donated the submersible system and science platform
used in the dive, the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER, to the Woods Hole
Woods Hole, which I have been to more than once, is an
incredible facility. The President and Director, Susan Avery,
is here today, as well, and I look forward to hearing about the
institute's plan to use the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER to support ocean
But we cannot rely solely on the graciousness of
individuals to advance science. And the need for greater ocean
research and monitoring has never been clearer. Whether it is
ocean acidification, sea level rise, warming water
temperatures, or shifting fish populations, our oceans are
This is something felt most acutely in the Arctic and in my
state of Alaska, where the average temperature rises are rising
twice as fast than anywhere else and the sea ice is thawing at
If we are to prepare for these changes, we have to better
our understanding of the oceans. In 2009, Congress enacted
several pieces of legislation aimed at improving our oceans
research and observing capabilities.
The Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System Act
provided for the development of an integrated system of coastal
and ocean observations for the Nation's coasts, oceans, and
Great Lakes. Development of the Integrated Ocean Observing
System is ongoing but is already providing for better access to
the ocean data that is critical to respond to the coastal
events and changes to our oceans.
There is also the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and
Monitoring Act, championed by the late Senator Lautenberg,
which established a coordinated process for effectively
monitoring ocean acidification and its effects on marine
organizations and ecosystems.
Both Acts will be due for reauthorization at the end of the
year. And I look forward to hearing from the witnesses, Dr. Jan
Newton of the University of Washington and Ed Page from Alaska
Ocean Observing System. They represent regional partners on how
we can improve the ocean science and research coordination
through changes in both these bills.
Addressing the particular needs of the Arctic science is
also a top priority of mine, and I hope to hear from some of
the witnesses on how we can tackle the region's unique
My bill, the Arctic Research, Monitoring, and Observing
Act, is pending before this committee. It would support
hydrographic surveys, mapping sensitive habitats, collecting
weather data, expand ocean observational data, and other
activities needed to support increased activity and changing
conditions in the Arctic.
We also need to find innovative ways to develop ocean
research outside the Federal Government. Given the Nation's
current constraints on the budget, we should look for how we
can better foster partnerships with the academic institutions
as well as private entities for advancing ocean research.
There is a lot to cover in this hearing, but I really do
appreciate the witnesses' being here.
Let me first turn to Senator Wicker for his opening
statement. I know he has a tight schedule and will be unable to
stay the whole meeting, so we just appreciate that he is here
at the beginning.
STATEMENT OF HON. ROGER F. WICKER,
U.S. SENATOR FROM MISSISSIPPI
Senator Wicker. Thank you, Senator Begich, for scheduling
this hearing on the importance of partnerships in ocean
And, Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you personally for
holding this hearing today in 3-D. It means a lot.
Senator Wicker. I hope today's discussion facilitates a
constructive dialogue among ocean explorers, scientists, and
policymakers about the future of ocean observation
infrastructure, research, and education.
The ocean covers 71 percent of the Earth and contains more
than 97 percent of the world's water, and yet only a small
fraction of this vast and integral resource has been explored.
High rates of mandatory spending often limit the ability of the
Federal Government to invest in discretionary funding such as
So one way to optimize Federal investment in ocean
exploration and research is through the expansion and
leveraging of public and private partnerships. These
partnerships allow for privately funded groups to work with the
government and with academic partners to advance research and
The United States is home to many of the world's best ocean
scientists and explorers, and it is important for them to
remain in the forefront of research and development. As a
member of the Senate Oceans Caucus and as a senator from the
coastal state of Mississippi, I recognize the importance of
understanding and exploring our oceans.
I am proud to say that my home state is actively involved
in ocean research. The National Institute for Undersea Science
and Technology, which was created as a partnership between the
University of Southern Mississippi and NOAA, aims to discover
and apply new technologies toward our understanding of the
oceans. Its work includes the development of new
biotechnologies and undersea vehicles.
I want to thank our witnesses for testifying today. I have
had a chance already earlier to speak to Mr. Cameron and Dr.
Avery. I look forward to hearing their views and the views of
the other distinguished panelists on advancing ocean science.
And thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for holding the hearing.
Senator Begich. Thank you very much, Senator Wicker.
And what we will do is we will start with Mr. Cameron, and
then we will kind of go down, Dr. Avery and so forth down, if
that is OK.
And really do appreciate your time, all of you, for coming
to Washington and being able to share with us your views on
what more we can be doing and, in some cases, what we maybe
should not be doing.
So we will open it up, and we will start with Mr. Cameron.
STATEMENT OF JAMES CAMERON,
EXPLORER AND FILMMAKER
Mr. Cameron. Thank you. Good afternoon, Chairman Begich and
Senator Wicker. Thank you for allowing me to speak here.
This week, we brought to the Nation's capital a unique
symbol, one that demonstrates the power of curiosity and
imagination to surmount technical hurdles and explore the
unknown. The DEEPSEA CHALLENGER is the only human-occupied
vehicle that is currently able to access the deepest parts of
On March 26, 2012, I dove it to the bottom of the
Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench and reached a depth of
35,787 feet and explored the bottom for 3 hours. This set the
record for the world's deepest solo dive. In the weeks prior to
that, we used the sub to explore the New Britain Trench at
depths down to 5 miles, a previously completely unexplored
ocean trench system. And in both trenches, we found new life
forms unknown to science.
The DEEPSEA CHALLENGER is now the deepest-diving
operational man-submersible in the world, exceeding the depth
limit of the next deepest vehicle, the Chinese Jiaolong
submersible, by 9,000 feet.
Now, the ocean's trenches have a combined area larger than
North America, and they are the last frontier of exploration
here on planet Earth. I think of it as a dark continent still
unexplored because of the technical difficulty of building
machines to operate at the crushing pressure of those depths.
To withstand the pressure of 16,300 pounds per square inch
at the bottom of the Challenger Deep, my team needed to develop
new materials and an array of technologies that didn't
previously exist, including HD stereoscopic cameras, high-
intensity lights, thrusters, batteries, and electronics. No
commercially available products or systems were available that
could withstand that pressure.
Why should we care what is happening in these deep
trenches? Well, one reason is that the trenches are formed by
subduction, in which one plate of the Earth's crust is dragged
by tectonics underneath another, pulling it down, which is what
creates the extreme depth. And this releases tremendous energy
in the form of earthquakes, often generating the kinds of
tsunamis that devastated Indonesia and Japan in recent years,
killing hundreds of thousands of people and wrecking national
We need to put instrumentation down on the sea floor to
understand these forces and hopefully someday save lives
through predictive modeling. And that requires machines that
can operate at that depth.
DEEPSEA CHALLENGER was designed and built by a small,
privately funded team of young engineers, almost all of whom
had never worked on a sub before, and this allowed out-of-the-
box thinking and unbridled innovation. The sub was designed as
a science platform, not as a stunt vehicle to set records. It
can explore horizontally for miles over the sea floor,
collecting samples with a robotic manipulator arm, recording
data with a number of instruments, and gathering high-
definition 3-D video with multiple cameras.
Preliminary science results from our expedition were
presented by our joint team of researchers at the December
gathering of the American Geophysical Union. These results
included the discovery of 68 new species, including the deepest
examples of gigantism in amphipods, as well as images of the
deepest bacterial mats ever discovered, which may be a glimpse
into how and where life originally emerged on the Earth.
I have chosen to donate the sub and its attendant
technology IP to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, our
nation's premier center for ocean science and technology. They
will publish the new tech embodied in the sub, making it
available to the entire research community, and the technology
will be adapted to new vehicle platforms in the future, which
will include AUVs and ROVs.
We are at a critical time in oceanographic research. The
ocean is an engine that drives weather, including the higher
precipitation and extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy,
the severe droughts, and so on that are associated with climate
To understand weather and climate, we must understand the
oceans. And to do so, we can't just sense them from satellites.
They are a vast, three-dimensional volume that is opaque from
above. We need instruments and vehicles down there in the water
However, as we all know, Federal ocean science funding is
stretching thin as budgets come under pressure. Though a
private institution, Woods Hole Oceanographic is dependant for
the majority of its funding on grants from NSF and NOAA and
other Federal agencies.
We need to invest more in ocean research, not less, at this
critical moment in history when the ocean is rapidly changing
due to human impacts. Oceans are a major part of our life
support system here on Earth, even as our industrial society is
degrading and transforming them.
We need to understand how greenhouse heat is absorbed into
the ocean, how it is mixed by currents deep in the water
column, where the carbon is going, and how these changes affect
the hydrological cycle that provides rainfall to farms but also
devastating floods, such as those that are currently ravaging
Extreme weather events that used to happen every 100 years
are now happening every 5 years. The cost to the Nation will be
in the hundreds of billions. We need to understand all this.
Woods Hole's expertise in ocean science is the reason I
have agreed to join its new Center for Marine Robotics, which
aims to spur collaborations across government, industry, and
academia to advance ocean science and exploration through the
development of new marine robotic vehicles and technologies.
Over the past 10 days, the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER made its
cross-country trek from Los Angeles to Washington on its way to
its new home at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape
Cod. Along the way, the sub stopped to give young people a
chance to see and touch the sub and, more importantly, to
imagine themselves exploring the unknown, inspiring them, as I
was inspired as a kid by the space and ocean exploration of the
We have to inspire children to want careers in science,
technology, engineering, and math. STEM education is critical
to our future. Our planet is a big, complex system, and the
ocean is the most poorly understood part of it. That system is
under stress, and we need to improve our sensing and monitoring
of it for our own national security and economic strength. For
that understanding, we need a new generation of scientists,
engineers, and explorers to carry the investigation forward.
So many people think we live in a post-exploration age,
that is has all been seen and mapped. We brought the DEEPSEA
CHALLENGER to the Nation's capital to remind people of the
frontiers of exploration right here on Earth and to signal the
need for continued investment in ocean science and technology.
We live in a new age of exploration. We also live in an age
in which the impacts of human industrial civilization on the
natural world are becoming dire. Future policy regarding
climate, pollution, and depletion and their impacts on human
life and biodiversity must be informed by scientific fact.
Institutions such as Woods Hole Oceanographic are our only
pathways to a clearer understanding of the changes we see
happening around us every day.
Now, I will personally continue to support ocean science,
not because I need to as some sort of clever business model,
but because I believe in my heart that it is important, maybe
even crucial, to our way of life and the health of our world. I
urge you to continue the nation's investment in ocean science,
technology, and education. I believe the return on this
investment will provide benefits that are critical to future
[The prepared statement of Mr. Cameron follows:]
Prepared Statement of James Cameron, Explorer and Filmmaker
Good afternoon Chairman Begich and Members of the Committee. My
name is James Cameron, and I am an explorer and director. Thank you for
the opportunity to testify today about innovative partnerships in ocean
observing and exploration.
This week we brought to the Nation's Capitol a unique symbol--one
that demonstrates the power of curiosity and imagination to surmount
fantastic technological hurdles and explore the unknown. The DEEPSEA
CHALLENGER is the only human-occupied vehicle currently able to access
the deepest parts of the ocean. In 2012, I used it to explore the famed
Challenger Deep, in the Mariana Trench, as well as exploring the
previously unseen New Britain Trench. Far from being out of its element
on Capitol Hill, it serves as a stark reminder of a task that has
barely begun: the exploration of the deep ocean.
A dozen people have stood on the moon. Only three have made the
seven-mile descent to Challenger Deep. In fact, the vast majority of
the world's ocean trenches, comprising an area larger than North
America, remains virtually unknown to us.
Why? Because they lie beneath five to seven miles of water. The
deep ocean is a lightless, high-pressure region that, from a
technological standpoint, is exceedingly challenging to see through, to
get to, and to operate in.
Because we routinely travel four miles beneath the surface, the
depth other exploration vehicles are capable of reaching, people think
the extra three miles is not a significant challenge be a big problem.
But everything changes in attempting to reach hadal depths below 6,000
meters (20,000 feet), the deepest places in the ocean. At those depths,
from an engineering perspective, the performance-benefit ratio changes
in terms of flotation, pressure vessels, wall thickness, and other
components. Vehicles become very heavy and unmanageable. That not only
drives up the cost of hadal-depth vehicles themselves, it drives up the
cost of the ships used to launch and recover them, multiplying the at-
sea operational costs that have historically been prohibitive factors
to exploration. There are also limits in materials science that require
the creation of entirely new materials in order to build vehicles that
have the same agility and cost factors as those operating higher in the
water column. One goal of the DEEPSEA CHALLENGE Project was to
demonstrate a spectrum of new technologies in a relatively small manned
vehicle for full-ocean-depth science diving and at reasonable cost.
These challenges are largely responsible for the fact that hadal
depths are still relatively unexplored and why so little is known about
the biology and geology in hadal depths. Yet it is known that these
regions are geologically dynamic. In ocean trenches, where one tectonic
plate is subducting beneath another, causing a great deal of stress,
friction, and fracturing that result in earthquakes and submarine
landslides, which, in turn, are sources of the kinds of tsunamis that
devastated Indonesia just a few years ago, and recently dealt such a
horrific blow to the people and economy of Japan.
There is also intriguing evidence of a diversity of unusual and
unknown life forms. These life forms have unusual biochemical and
physiological adaptations to the exotic chemistry and extreme pressure
in hadal regions.
I was born in 1954 and grew up during an era of exploration. In the
1960s, the Apollo program was sending men to the moon. In 1964, the
deep-sea sub Alvin, operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution,
began bringing humans to the deep sea. These exploratory pursuits
inspired me at an impressionable age resulting in my later pursuit of
deep ocean exploration in parallel to my filmmaking work.
I assembled a team of engineers to build DEEPSEA CHALLENGER--to
push exploration into the deep sea, further and faster. A small,
private, international team of young engineers developed a vehicle that
was pioneering in several ways. It was able to dive to the deepest
place in the world's oceans, a feat that had only been accomplished
once before, by the historic dive of the Trieste bathyscaphe under U.S.
Navy authority in 1960. However the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER weighs less than
one-tenth of Trieste, and can be deployed like a contemporary science
submersible from the deck of a mid-sized research vessel, as opposed to
being towed to the site. In addition, the new sub is able to explore
horizontally for miles over the seafloor, collecting samples with a
robotic manipulator arm, recording data with a number of instruments,
and gathering high definition stereoscopic video with multiple cameras.
Preliminary science results of our 2012 expedition were presented by a
joint team of researchers at the December gathering of the American
Geophysical Union. These results included the discovery of at least 68
new species such as the deepest examples of gigantism in amphipods, as
well as images of the deepest bacterial mats ever discovered, which may
lead to an understanding of the origin of life on Earth.
However, despite being a small, international, privately funded
group, I want to emphasize that our team built on a monumental
foundation of prior ocean research and exploration funded by Congress
and a range of government agencies.
It should also be noted that DEEPSEA CHALLENGER was built by a
joint American/Australian team, with approximately one-third of the
work done in the U.S., by engineering companies in the Bay Area, and
two-thirds of the work done by a start-up company in Sydney. The
Australian government provides generous rebates to encourage research
and development, and this was a strong driver in my choice to site the
project primarily in Australia. I would strongly urge Congress to
establish new incentives, as well as enhancing existing ones, to
encourage R&D among small companies in the U.S., thus maintaining this
Nation's critical lead in engineering and science.
Now, the scientists and engineers at Woods Hole Oceanographic
Institution and ocean research centers across the Nation are poised to
take the technologies developed for DEEPSEA CHALLENGER submersible and
science platform to the next level, so that the knowledge gained in
this project can help advance ocean science.
This public/private collaboration is one of many that signal a new
path to supporting the R&D and education initiatives that are critical
to the future of the U.S. and global economies. I believe that advances
in ocean science and technology must be at the forefront of this
effort, given the growing recognition of the importance of ocean
processes and their influence on weather and climate and economic and
national security. Woods Hole's expertise in this area is part of the
reason I have agreed to join one of its new initiatives, the Center for
Marine Robotics, which aims to spur collaborations across government,
industry, and academia to advance ocean science and exploration through
the development and integration of new marine robotic vehicles and
technologies. Despite our best efforts, the ocean remains aqua
incognita to us--much the way the ground we're sitting on now was once
considered terra incognita by early explorers. There's much more we
need to know about how the ocean operates. We haven't invested nearly
enough in ocean research. And I think it's gong to come back to bite us
at this moment in history when we know that the ocean is rapidly
The only way we can learn about this vast and crucial part of our
planet is to submerge ourselves in it, using both human and remote
automated technology, which requires adequate funding, given the
difficulties of operating in the ocean, from the surface to the
During the past 10 days, DEEPSEA CHALLENGER made a cross-country
trek from Los Angeles to Washington on its way to its eventual home at
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod. Along the way, the
sub stopped to give young people a chance to see and touch the sub and,
more importantly, to imagine themselves exploring the unknown--
inspiring them, as I was inspired.
We need exemplars like this for young people to see that not only
is there much we haven't explored right here on our home planet, but
also that there is much we need to know about how our natural world
functions. Our planet is a big, complex, intricate system, and the
ocean is the most poorly understood part of it. That system is under
stress, and we need to improve our understanding of how it works so
that we can help preserve our home.
As the next generation of scientists, engineers, teachers, business
owners, and political leaders, their enthusiasm for exploration, for
taking risks, for solving problems, and pursuing knowledge is vital to
our continued international leadership, national security and economic
growth. To that end, the STEM programs are essential to give students
at impressionable ages the inspiration and skills to learn how nature
and technology works. Continued Federal investment in education at all
levels must remain a high priority.
So many people think we live in a post-exploration age--that it's
all been seen, and all been mapped. We brought the sub to the Nation's
Capitol to help dispel this myth, to communicate the need for greater
investment in ocean science and the technologies that make it possible.
DEEPSEA CHALLENGER proves that remote parts of the ocean are within our
reach. We live in a new Age of Exploration. We also live in an age in
which the impacts of human industrial civilization on the natural world
are becoming more dire. All future policy regarding the prevention of
dangerous changes to our climate and its impacts to human life and
biodiversity must be informed by scientific fact. That science must
include an understanding of the oceans and their role in the transfer
of heat, in the hydrological cycle, the carbon cycle, and in extreme
I will continue to support ocean R&D and build on the growing
number of public, private and philanthropic partnerships, and I
encourage Congress to capitalize on this opportunity by expanding its
investment in ocean science, technology and education. I believe the
return on this investment will provide benefits far beyond anyone's
Thank you again for this opportunity to address the Committee.
Senator Begich. Thank you very much.
Dr. Avery, before I go to you, I wanted to see if Senator
Cantwell had any opening comments before we continue with the
STATEMENT OF HON. MARIA CANTWELL,
U.S. SENATOR FROM WASHINGTON
Senator Cantwell. I just wanted to welcome Dr. Newton for
being here, obviously a regional expert from the University of
Washington. And I look forward to her testimony.
Senator Begich. Fantastic. Thank you.
I want you to know, Mr. Cameron, while you were speaking of
the donation, I saw Dr. Avery, she had the biggest grin on her
Senator Begich. It is like a new toy. You have no idea. I
mean, you have been to Woods Hole, you have seen----
Mr. Cameron. Yes.
Senator Begich.--the quarters they work in are sometimes a
little cramped. But their enthusiasm is unbelievable, and I was
feeling it as you were talking.
Senator Begich. Because I think she is ready to, like, go
outside now and start using it. I sense that.
Mr. Cameron. She is going to be in it sooner or later, sir.
Senator Begich. I have this feeling, as well.
Dr. Avery, President and Director of Woods Hole
Oceanographic Institution, thank you very much for being here.
Let me turn to you for your opening.
STATEMENT OF DR. SUSAN K. AVERY, PRESIDENT
AND DIRECTOR, WOODS HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION
Ms. Avery. Thank you. Thank you, Chairman Begich and
Senator Cantwell. Thank you for having this opportunity to
testify in support of the Nation's community of ocean
scientists and research institutions.
I would like to recognize Jim Cameron for his commitment to
helping advance ocean science exploration and education and his
willingness to share his team's work on the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER
with the science community, which Woods Hole Oceanographic
Institution will facilitate.
Jim is a visionary who looks beyond what we currently are
able to see. This is a particularly relevant skill since
looking beyond the ocean surface has always been a huge
challenge. For that reason, most people's perspectives are
Yet the ocean is Earth's most fundamental and life-
sustaining feature. It touches us every day wherever we live.
The ocean is the major transportation route for global trade
and a significant source of food and a major source of jobs.
The ocean is also our planetary reservoir and water pump. It
circulates heat and water around the globe to regulate climate
There is strong evidence that the ocean has been changing.
As the planet continues to warm, more heat means more water
vapor and more energy going into the atmosphere. That means
more extreme weather and more rainfall and flooding in some
areas, less rainfall and droughts in others. With rising sea
levels, it means higher probabilities of more devastating storm
surges, like we saw with Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.
Like any frontier, the ocean also holds untapped potential,
including new sources of energy, minerals, and medicines. In
addition to the deep ocean, there are other frontiers in the
ocean. We have barely gained access to explore the ocean
beneath our polar icecaps, at a time when the sea ice is
rapidly disappearing. This has profound implications for
Earth's climate, ocean ecosystems, and for access to new
shipping routes and natural resources.
There are reasons why Russia planted its flag at the bottom
of the Arctic Ocean in 2007 and why China has ramped up its
investments in deep ocean exploration.
There is also the microbial frontier. There are about
300,000 times more microbes in the ocean than there are
observable stars in the universe. They have evolved all sorts
of chemical pathways to live in extreme environments. Ocean
scientists have just begun to explore this universe of marine
microbes for unknown biochemical pathways and compounds, for
new antibiotics, and for novel treatments for diseases, such as
Alzheimer's and cystic fibrosis. These microbes also hold the
key to the healthy functioning of the ocean ecosystem, much as
our own microbiome in our body is critical to human health.
Then there is the frontier of climate. For atmosphere and
ocean, they are both fluids and they are both fluid dynamical
systems. The atmosphere works over days, weeks, and months. The
ocean is more lumbering but larger, a flywheel that works over
months, years, and decades.
The two systems, the atmosphere and the ocean, are
interwoven and inseparable. But while we have long established
extensive networks of meteorological instruments continually
monitoring our atmosphere, we have just begun to establish a
toehold of long-term observatories to understand and monitor
how the ocean operates.
Toward that end, I urge this committee to support the
First, the reauthorization of the Integrated Coastal and
Ocean Observation System Act. This legislation provides the
foundation for a national ocean observing system, one that
enhances those provided by states and other nongovernmental,
academic, and private entities. Such a network will give us the
ability to understand ocean processes and provide knowledge and
forecasts for fisheries, coastal residents, and shipping.
Second, reauthorize America COMPETES legislation to bolster
innovation, research and development, and STEM initiatives.
This will ensure our country has a ready supply of young people
with the inspiration to push the boundaries of knowledge and
gain the skills that our businesses require in their employees.
And, third, support the National Science Foundation, Navy's
Office of Naval Research, NOAA, NASA, and NIST, whose science
and technology programs are essential to pursuing new lines of
inquiry that can lead to new technologies, industries, jobs,
and ways to solve societal problems. We have to be brave enough
and smart enough to look beyond the next Fiscal Year and invest
in what we can't already see.
I conclude my remarks by highlighting the value of
partnerships to the future of R&D in this country. Jim
Cameron's partnerships with Woods Hole Oceanographic
Institution and also with Scripps Institution of Oceanography
are welcome examples of how public and private funding can
leverage each other. But I must emphasize that they are
partnerships. One doesn't replace the other. Neither adequately
does the job alone, and each augments and leverages the other.
In an almost poetic statement, the National Science
Foundation annual report from 1952 says, ``That which has never
been known cannot be foretold. And herein lies the great
promise of basic research. It enlarges the realm of the
It takes all of us together--private citizens and
foundations, academic scientists, industry, and government--to
explore the unknown and enlarge the realm of the possible.
I look forward to your questions. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Avery follows:]
Prepared Statement of Dr. Susan K. Avery, President and Director,
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Good afternoon Chairman Begich and Members of the Committee. My
name is Dr. Susan K. Avery, and I am President and Director of the
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today on behalf of our
nation's community of ocean scientists and research institutions. I'd
like to recognize Jim Cameron for his commitment to helping advance
ocean science, exploration, and education, and his willingness to
sharing his team's work on the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER with the science
community, which Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution will facilitate.
Importance of the Ocean
The ocean is the dominant feature on Earth. Removing all that water
away reveals some surprising things about our planet: There are
mountain ranges longer than anything on land, mountains higher than
Everest, and canyons deeper and grander than the Grand Canyon. And it's
all covered by a relatively thin skin of water. Despite this, the ocean
most people see is the surface. A sunset over a healthy ocean looks
just like one over a sick ocean. It is what happens underneath the
surface that is critical to humanity.
The importance of the ocean in daily life, whether you live on the
East Coast, the Great Plains, or the Mountain West, cannot be
oversimplified or understated. In short, it is one of the most
fundamental reasons why our planet is capable of supporting life and
why we are able to sustain the economy and way of life that are among
our national hallmarks. Our fate has always rested in one way or
another with the ocean and its interaction with the atmosphere, land,
and humanity. The ocean plays a critical role in governing Earth's
climate system helping to regulate global cycles of heat, water, and
carbon. The rates and regional patterns of land temperature and
precipitation depend on the ocean's physical and chemical balances. It
touches us every day, wherever we live through our climate and weather;
rainfall, floods, droughts, hurricanes, and devastating storm surges
such as what we witnessed with Hurricane Sandy.
The services the ocean provides--and that we often take for
granted--range from endless inspiration and deep-seated cultural
heritage to the very air we breathe and the rain that waters our crops.
Roughly half of the oxygen we breathe and about 80 percent of the water
vapor in our atmosphere comes from ocean processes. The ocean feeds us,
processes waste, holds vast stores of mineral and petroleum reserves,
and provides inexpensive transportation of goods and people. Its rich
biodiversity is a potential source for new medicines and an insurance
policy for our future. Many of these things it provides the planet
without our intervention; other things we actively seek and extract--
and we will continue to do so.
In 2010, maritime economic activities contributed an estimated $258
billion and 2.8 million jobs to the national economy.\1\ In addition,
roughly 41 percent of the Nation's GDP, or $6 trillion, including 44
million jobs and $2.4 trillion in wages, was generated in the marine
and Great Lake shoreline counties of the U.S. and territories.\2\ The
key for the future of the ocean and for humanity will be to learn how
to balance these economic activities with the natural functioning of
\1\ NOAA Coastal Services Center, NOAA Report on the Ocean and
Great Lakes Economy of the United States, 2012, http://
www.csc.noaa.gov/digitalcoast/_/pdf/econreport.pdf (accessed February
\2\ NOAA National Ocean Service, Special Projects Division, Spatial
Trends in Coastal Socioeconomics (STICS), 2013 http://
coastalsocioeconomics.noaa.gov/ (accessed February 2013); and NOAA
Office of Program Planning and Integration The Ocean and Coastal
Economy: A Summary of Statistics, 2013 http://tinyurl.com/p55na2q
(accessed June 2013).
We know that the ocean is taking up more than 80 percent of the
heat that is generated by rising levels of greenhouse gases in our
atmosphere.\3\ Excess carbon dioxide mixed into the upper ocean is
lowering the pH of seawater, making it more acidic and raising the
potential for large-scale change at the base of the marine food chain
and in the coral reef ecosystems that are considered the breadbasket of
the tropical oceans and an important source of biodiversity and income
for many regions. Excess heat is causing Arctic sea ice to retreat to
levels never before seen, setting up the likelihood of still further
melting driven by positive feedback loops, as well as disruptions to
the Arctic ecosystems that have evolved in an environment partly
reliant on ice cover for millions of years. Sea level is also rising,
both as a result of increased melting of terrestrial ice caps and of
thermal expansion of the seawater, resulting in higher probabilities of
more frequent and more severe storm surges such as those associated
with Hurricane Sandy. Our ability to build properly designed and
appropriately scaled adaptations into cities and societies around the
world is predicated on our ability to accurately predict how, when, and
how much the ocean will change in the future.
\3\ Levitus, S., J. Antonov, and T. Boyer, ``Warming of the world
ocean, 1955-2003,'' Geophys. Res. Lett. 32(2005), L02604, doi:10.1029/
For these reasons and many others, our nation must recognize that
the ocean is changing almost before our eyes. Perhaps the question is,
not how much can we afford to invest in research on the ocean, but
rather how can we afford not to?
Despite its importance, there remain many unanswered questions
about the ocean. It is far more difficult to observe than the
atmosphere. Because the ocean is opaque to most forms of
electromagnetic radiation, satellite observations are limited in the
type and resolution of information they can gather. We are capable of
monitoring many surface features, including waves, winds, temperatures,
salinity, carbon, color (a measure of biological productivity), as well
as some large-scale sub-surface features. But satellites cannot tell us
much about the diversity of life in the ocean or the many fine-scale
dynamic processes at work beneath the surface, nor can they tell us
much about the internal complex biogeochemistry that supports life.
Satellites can't show us the bottom of the ocean, where volcanic
hydrothermal vents sustain rich communities of exotic organisms--which
might answer questions about the early evolution of life. To learn more
about these important parts of the ocean system, we must have more and
better eyes in the ocean and, at the same time, work to surmount the
huge challenges of working in a cold, corrosive, and physically
Frontiers in the Ocean
Jim Cameron is a visionary who is capable of looking beyond what we
are currently able to see. Let me tell you about another visionary. In
the mid-1930s, a physicist from Lehigh University named Maurice Ewing
sent letters to several oil companies. He asked them to support a
modest research program to see whether acoustic methods used to probe
buried geological structures on land could be adapted to investigate
the completely unknown geology of the seafloor. Ewing later wrote:
``This proposal received no support whatever. I was told that work out
in the ocean could not possibly be of interest to the shareholder and
could not rightfully receive one nickel of the shareholder's money.''
\4\ Lippsett, L., ``At Deepwater Horizon, basic research was
applied,'' Oceanus 48(2011) http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/
viewArticle.do?id=116709 (Accessed June 2013).
Ewing did get a $2,000 grant from the Geological Society of
America, however, and he and his students came to Woods Hole
Oceanographic Institution to use its new ocean-going research ship,
Atlantis. The ship and the institution were launched by a $3 million
grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. The scientists launched novel
experiments using sound waves to probe the seafloor. To Ewing, the
ocean was annoyingly in the way. To study the seafloor, he and his
colleagues had to learn how to negotiate the intervening water medium.
In the process, they unexpectedly made profound and fundamental
discoveries about ocean properties and how sound propagates through
In 1940, on the eve of war, Woods Hole's director, Columbus
O'Donnell Iselin, wrote a letter to government officials, suggesting
the ways the institution's personnel and equipment could be better
utilized for the national defense. Soon after, one of Ewing's students,
Allyn Vine, began incorporating their newly gained knowledge to build
instruments called bathythermographs, which measured ocean properties.
Vine trained naval personnel to use them to escape detection by sonar.
It was the first among many subsequent applications of this research
that revolutionized submarine warfare.
Many scientists pursued the marine geophysics research initiated by
Ewing. Their work culminated in the late 1960s in the unifying theory
of plate tectonics. It transformed our understanding of continents,
ocean basins, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, and a host of other
geological phenomena--including significant oil reservoirs beneath the
seafloor--where oil companies now routinely drill and make money for
Al Vine remained in Woods Hole and spearheaded deep-submergence
technology, including the research sub Alvin, which was named after
him. Two years after it was completed, Alvin was applied to a national
emergency, locating a hydrogen bomb that accidentally dropped into the
Mediterranean Sea. A decade later, Alvin found seafloor hydrothermal
vents. To humanity's utter astonishment, the vents were surrounded by
previously unknown organisms sustained not by photosynthesis but
chemosynthesis. This discovery completely changed our conceptions of
where and how life can exist on this planet and elsewhere in the
Thirty-five years later, Alvin was again called into action to help
assess and monitor the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and its impacts in
the Gulf of Mexico, but at the same time, the ocean science community
was able to bring much more to bear in a time of national crisis. The
community's unparalleled response in the Gulf was enabled by more than
three decades of technological advancements related to development of
remotely operated and autonomous underwater vehicles and new sensors
and data assimilation techniques, and integrated networks of sensors,
vehicles, and platforms that have opened the ocean to the light of new
study, many of which were developed through novel partnerships with
Society has benefitted in the past from public-funded/private-
funded partnerships that advance research and development, probably
even before Queen Isabella financed Columbus's voyage of discovery in
1492. But I emphasize: It's a partnership. One doesn't replace the
other. Each augments the other. In an unexpected bit of poetry, the NSF
annual report from 1952 says: ``That which has never been known cannot
be foretold, and herein lies the great promise of basic research. . . .
[It] enlarges the realm of the possible.'' The bottom line question is:
How much are we willing to invest in enlarging the realm of the
Jim Cameron did that with DEEPSEA CHALLENGER. He enlarged the realm
of the possible by demonstrating that even the deepest part of the
ocean is not beyond our physical presence. Still other advances are
expanding the possible in many ways through the development and
deployment of novel sensors, autonomous vehicles, and new ways for
humans and machines to interact. There is a revolution in marine
technology underway that is positioning us to reach many unexplored
frontiers in the ocean--and the ocean has many. The deep ocean is only
We have barely gained access to explore the ocean beneath our polar
ice caps--at a time when rapidly disappearing sea ice has profound
implications for Earth's climate, for ocean ecosystems, expanded
shipping, oil and mineral resource development, and national security.
There is the microbial frontier, where 90 percent of the ocean biomass
resides and which is invisible to the human eye. There are about
300,000 times more microbes in the ocean than there are observable
stars in the universe.\5\ Ocean scientists have just begun to explore
this universe of marine microbes, which holds the key to healthy
biological functioning of the ocean ecosystem, much as the microbiome
in the human body is critical to our health. They are also searching
for unknown biochemical pathways and compounds, for new antibiotics,
and for novel treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer's and cystic
\5\ Mincer, T., personal communication, June 6, 2013.
Then there is the frontier of temporal and spatial scales that must
be overcome to monitor and forecast changes to the deep and open ocean.
The ocean exhibits large, basin-wide patterns of variability that
change over periods ranging from days and weeks to years, decades, and
longer. Understanding and observing these patterns, including El Nino-
Southern Oscillation (ENSO), offer potential for improved prediction of
climate variability in the future. For most of my career, I have been
an atmospheric scientist. The atmosphere and ocean are both fluids (one
that is compressible, the other incompressible). These two systems are
interwoven and inseparable.
But while we have long-established, extensive networks of
meteorological instruments continually monitoring our atmosphere, we
have just begun to establish a relative toehold of long-term
observatories to understand, and monitor how the ocean operates. To
truly comprehend Earth's dynamic behavior and to monitor how it affects
us back on land, scientists must establish a long-term presence in the
ocean, including platforms and suites of physical, chemical, and
biological sensors from which to view how the ocean and seafloor change
in fine resolution over seasons, years, and decades. This same
observing capability will provide the basis for improved forecasts from
models that incorporate data and observations from the ocean,
atmosphere, and land and that provide the basis for decision making by
national, state, and local agencies.
Variability such as weather events associated with ENSO has
significant societal and economic impacts in the U.S., and a
combination of a dedicated ocean-observing system in the tropical
Pacific plus models that forecast ENSO impacts is now in place to help
society adapt in times of increased variability. The promise of
additional benefits from observing, understanding, and predicting the
ocean and its impacts is real. Modeled reconstructions by Hoerling and
Kumar of the 1930s drought in the Central U.S. recently linked that
event to patterns of anomalies in sea-surface temperature far from the
U.S.\6\ The global scale of the circulation of the ocean and basin-
scale patterns of ocean variability on decadal and longer time scales
may present sources of improved predictive skill in future weather and
\6\ Hoerling, M and A. Kumar, ``The perfect ocean for drought,''
Science 299(2013):691-694 doi:10.1126/science.1079053.
Moving forward, we need to be even more adaptive and agile,
applying new technologies in ways that both make crucial observations
more effectively and make coincident observations of the biology,
chemistry, and physics of the ocean. At the same time we need at our
modeling and prediction centers to establish the resources and mindset
that will support testing and adoption of research results that lead to
We are on the edge of exploration of many ocean frontiers that will
be using new eyes in the ocean. Public-funded/private-funded investment
in those eyes is required, but will not be successful without adequate
and continuing Federal commitment to ocean science. Support such as
Jim's and the Schmidt Ocean Institute, which was founded by Eric
Schmidt and operates the research vessel Falkor, help fill gaps in
support for research and development or for access to the ocean.
However, the fact remains that Federal funding is by far the leading
driver of exploration, observation, and technical research and
development that has a direct impact on the lives of people around the
world and on U.S. economic growth and leadership. It also remains the
bellwether by which philanthropic entrepreneurs judge the long-term
viability of the impact their investment will have on the success that
U.S. ocean science research will have around the globe.
Recent Model Advances
Most advancements in global oceanographic and climate modeling in
the recent past have been incremental, but have proved crucial to our
greater understanding of Earth's ocean and climate as internally
complex and interlocking systems. Further work needs to be done to
provide greater insight into the workings of the ocean, atmosphere,
land, and human systems individually and as an integrated whole. At its
core, this requires enhanced observational infrastructure, as well as
better data assimilation and more robust statistical and dynamic
Over the past 30 years, one of the most visible examples of
breakthrough understanding of ocean processes related to climate and
weather has been the link between the El Nino-Southern Oscillation
(ENSO) and extreme weather events around the world, including patterns
of drought and hurricane frequency in the tropical Atlantic.
Understanding phenomena such as ENSO helps forecasters better predict
how Earth's climate will respond to changing conditions in the ocean
over seasonal to annual time scales. But such oscillatory behavior is
difficult to forecast under the changing conditions driven by increased
atmospheric greenhouse gases.
There are, however, several noteworthy advancements in the recent
New sea ice projections \7\
\7\ Overland, J.E. and M. Wang, ``When will the summer Arctic be
ice-free?'' Geophysical Research Letters 40(2013), doi:10.1002/
Loss of nearly all Arctic sea ice in the summer is now projected to
occur as early as 2050. An ice-free Arctic will have benefits for
transportation and natural resource extraction, but these, in turn,
will likely come at a cost. Territorial claims in the Arctic Ocean
could lead to tension among regional partners, but also present
opportunities for new avenues of international cooperation; and
extractive activities pose risk for accidental oil spills in remote and
hazardous locations. In addition, the loss of sea ice is a significant
disruption to the fragile and unique ecosystem of the Arctic Ocean for
which the implications, in the Arctic or beyond, are difficult to
Expanded Sea-surface Temperature Forecasts \8\
\8\ DelSole, T., J. Liwei, and M.K. Tippett, ``Decadal prediction
of observed and simulated sea surface temperatures'' Geophysical
Research Letters 40(2013), doi:10.1002/grl.50185.
It now appears possible to extend our ability to forecast some
variations in sea-surface temperature which could prove to be an
important tool for improving climate models. Research is focusing on
patterns of decadal variability in sea surface temperatures. However,
initialization data is very important to such a model, which means that
a comprehensive ocean observing system remains essential to
incorporating this potential advancement into future predictive
Improved horizontal resolution and improved model physics \9\
\9\ Polade, S.J., '' Natural climate variability and
teleconnections to precipitation over the Pacific-North American region
in CMIP3 and CMIP5 models'' Geophysical Research Letters 40(2013),
Higher resolution models are better able to incorporate the
physical, chemical, and biological processes. A new suite of climate
models known as CMIP5 is being used to prepare the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC AR5) and, along
with other developments, is helping provide better estimates of
precipitation over the continental U.S. under an evolving climate. This
comes at a time when evidence points to the fact that the water cycle
is intensifying under global warming \10\ and it is becoming
increasingly important to understand and predict the accompanying
intensification of droughts in dry regions and the incidence of floods
in wet regions. The ocean is the major source of most rainwater and
must be part of any effort to predict the future water supplies for
metropolitan, agricultural, and industrial regions of the U.S.
\10\ Durack, P.J., ``Ocean salinities reveal strong global water
cycle intensification during 1950 to 2000,'' Science 336(2012):455-458
Predicting long-term cycles \11\
\11\ MacDonald, G.M. and R.A. Case, ``Variations in the Pacific
Decadal Oscillation over the past millennium,'' Geophysical Research
Letters 32(2005) doi:10.1029/2005GL022478.
Regular changes in sea-surface temperature in the tropical Pacific
Ocean, such as the El Nino-La Nina cycle, influence precipitation and
extreme events over a wide swath of the globe. However, many other,
longer-term modes of ocean-temperature variability such as the Pacific
Decadal Oscillation (PDO) exist that can impact regional climate and
weather patterns far afield. Much of our understanding on these climate
modes is based on the instrumental record of temperature, but this only
extends back only a couple of centuries. Important new insights on past
climate variability and extremes is being discovered by analyzing tree
rings and other paleo-climate proxy records. Recent work also suggests
the presence of centennial-scale cycles in the Pacific, and researchers
are currently analyzing coral samples from remote islands of the
western Pacific for signs long-term variability in ocean temperature
that might confirm the presence of this and its current phase.\12\
\12\ Karnauskas, K.B., ``A Pacific Centennial Oscillation predicted
by coupled GSMs'' Journal of Climate 25(2012), doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-11-
Incorporation of biological processes into modeling and operational
\13\ Stumpf, R.P., et al., ``Skill assessment for an operational
algal bloom forecast system,'' Journal of Marine Systems 76(2009):151-
61, doiI: 10.1016/j.jmarsys.2008.05.016
Advancements in predictions of harmful algal blooms (HABs) in the
Gulf of Maine have reached a point where the research program will soon
transfer to operational forecasting. Forecasts of HABs are already
operational in the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Erie. The economic cost of
HABs to recreation, fishing, public health, and coastal monitoring in
the U.S. is estimated to be nearly $100 million annually. Forecasts of
the severity of HABs in recent years have allowed fisheries managers
and public health officials to take preemptive action that minimizes
costs associated with beach and shellfish bed closures or the treatment
of drinking water systems to remove cells and toxins. Recent research
and modeling also provided evidence that allowed for the 2013 opening
of clam harvesting on Georges Bank after being closed for 22 years.\14\
\14\ NOAA Fisheries Northeast Regional Office, ``New England
offshore areas will reopen for Atlantic surfclam and ocean quahog
fishing,'' December 18, 2012 http://tinyurl.com/nc2og8b (accessed June
Efforts to improve hurricane intensity prediction \15\
\15\ Owens, B. and S. Jayne, personal communication, June 6, 2013.
Accurate predictions of hurricane intensity prior to landfall are
significantly hampered by high-resolution observations of upper-ocean
heat content and mixing immediately upstream of a storm. Data collected
from NOAA ``Hurricane Hunter'' aircraft using airborne expendable
bathythermographs (AXBTs), which cost nearly $1,000 per instrument (not
including aircraft costs), are limited by the one-time nature of the
probes. Funding obtained through the Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill (HR-
41) will enable advancements in the technology behind the Argo
profiling floats that resulted in an air-deployable version of the
autonomous floats. When deployed from the same aircraft, a single float
should be able to make as many as 150 vertical profiles before, during,
and after the storm to provide a more complete picture of heat transfer
from the ocean that fuels a tropical storm like Sandy, at a cost of
roughly $40 per profile.
Observational Capability to Support Modeling
The process of expanding our understanding of the ocean system,
both alone and as it relates to other planetary cycles, is driven by
our ability observe marine processes near and far from shore, deep
beneath the surface, over large spatial expanses, and over long periods
of time. This, in turn, provides much needed data that enables
comprehensive modeling efforts to forecast natural and human-driven
changes far into the future and over time frames that support a wide
range of decision-making at the national, regional, and local levels.
Growth of our national modeling capability is inherently dependent
upon continued research and development of new observational
technologies, including autonomous tools and methods, and enhanced by
new data-handling and assimilation systems, as well as development of
new statistical and dynamical modeling capabilities. Four areas of
increased observational capability are needed:
1. Observations that support detailed studies that help capture
processes needed to improve models. To incorporate these
observations, models will need spatial resolution sufficient to
resolve these processes or, alternatively, the observations
will help develop parameterizations of these processes to
incorporate in models.
2. Ongoing broad-scale observations for initialization of modes.
3. Long-term, sustained observations that serve as reference
stations for model verification and validation, as well as
motivation for model improvement.
4. International collaboration on sustained observations and access
to the sea that capitalize on international assets in order to
enhance the collective global observation of the ocean. For
example, the access to the polar ocean regions would be better
achieved through operational collaboration between the U.S.,
Australia, Japan, and Norway--all of which are pushing
observing capabilities into high latitudes. This requires
member states of the Intergovernmental Ocean Commission, to
continue to take on responsibilities similar to what is done in
the World Meteorological Organization.
IOOS and the ICOOS Act
The networks and partnerships developed through the Integrated
Ocean Observing System (IOOS) have connected academics with managers
and other users of their work allowing co-development of projects and
products to provide user-driven, science-based solutions to real-world
problems. The reauthorization of the Integrated Coastal Ocean Observing
(ICOOS) Act of 2009 is critical to ensuring this continued success.
IOOS provides core infrastructure for coastal, ocean, and Great
Lakes research and discovery. Long-term, sustained observing systems
are critical to understanding natural variability in U.S. waters and
for rapidly detecting change that can have an impact on terrestrial and
marine activities. These same observing systems can also be leveraged
to allow more detailed studies, and novel sensors added to established
systems, when combined with IOOS observations, are providing critical
background and new insights on marine processes. Two examples in the
northeast include the Pioneer Array, which is a part of the NSF-funded
Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI), and the NOAA-, NIEHS-, and NSF-
funded Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) work.
The location of the Pioneer Array is particularly important in
understanding the important transports (nutrients, heat, etc.)
associated with the abundant fisheries over the continental shelf and
slope regions south of Georges Bank. Although a primary focus is on
research, the sustained observations over five years together with
partnerships with the fisheries industry will be mutually beneficial
and may lead to a much wider investment in operational monitoring in
this important economic area.
Coastal IOOS networks deliver key regional-scale information, both
observations and models that help place local process studies at the
Pioneer Array site into a regional context. Changes in regional-scale
circulation and water properties detected by IOOS observing systems
have proven an essential element to understanding and predicting HAB
severity each year. In 2014, WHOI scientists will deploy four
environmental sample processors, novel sensors capable of detecting HAB
species autonomously at the molecular scale. Never before have four
sensors been deployed at one time. This effort is part of an IOOS goal
to accelerate the deployment and integration of new technologies.
Coastal IOOS also operate regional modeling systems that act as
incubators for rapid advances in technology and methods. Through IOOS,
state-of-the-art forecast systems are being developed by researchers in
partnership with decision makers. Regional-and local-scale models are
run every day at academic institutions and delivered to a range of
agency and commercial users, including local Weather Forecast Offices
of the National Weather Service (NWS). Through IOOS partnerships, near-
street-level inundation forecast systems have been developed with and
for NWS forecasters and town emergency managers that often push the
envelope of what is capable of being modeled. At a larger scale,
similar rapid progress has been made with researchers and managers
through the IOOS Coastal Ocean Modeling Testbed, which has also focused
on research into how to disseminate and make accessible model output.
This efficient management and communication of data is another core
component of IOOS and OOI that is essential for its effective use by
For the most part, the ICOOS Act establishes an adequate structure
for IOOS, but inadequate funding and other issues remain that, if
solved, will help make the program more effective over the long-term.
The primary issue of concern with IOOS is the continued low, flat
funding of the program. The House version of the re-authorization
limits the funding to appropriated amounts, or $29.6 million. At this
level, the program will be forced to remove assets from the water and
will not be able to address the gaps in the coastal observing network.
In addition, the funding does not address the need to transition
programs from research to operations, as in the case of the impending
operationalization of HAB monitoring and forecasting in the Gulf of
Maine. This decade-long research program made heavy use of the IOOS
network. In addition, IOOS is an interagency program and many Federal
agencies benefit from IOOS data and products, but these same agencies
do not support the infrastructure; currently, NOAA is the only program
that supports the infrastructure.
Improving Research to Operations (R2O)
In 2010, the National Research Council's Committee on Assessment of
Intraseasonal to Interannual (ISI) Climate Prediction and
Predictability released a final report that addressed specific ways to
improve the operations and integration of the U.S. research and
forecasting communities. The committee identified three general areas
of improvement to advance ISI predictive capability: best practices,
building blocks of ISI forecast systems, and research for sources of
The Committee's 11 recommendations are outlined below. More detail
of each can be found in the Committee's final report.\16\
\16\ National Research Council of the National Academies,
Assessment of intraseasonal to Interannual Climate Prediction and
Predictability, Washington, D.C: National Academies Press, 2010.
Suggested improvements to best practices are focused on the
activities of the operational forecast centers and aim to improve the
delivery and dissemination of forecast information for both decision-
makers and researchers. Specifically, it is recommended that the
synergy between operational ISI forecasting centers and the research
community be enhanced and the public archives of data used by
operational ISI forecasting centers in forecasts be established. Data
includes observations, model code, hindcasts, analyses, forecasts, re-
analyses, re-forecasts, verifications, and official forecast outlooks.
Improvements to the building blocks of ISI forecast systems apply
to both the operational and research communities and focus on the
continued development of observations, statistical and dynamical
models, and data assimilation systems. Recommendations are targeted at
various improvements in models and model techniques, analysis and
interpretation of errors, and improved incorporation of physical
Improvements to research for sources of predictability are aimed
primarily toward the research community and provides a set of longer-
term research priorities based on a set of criteria indicating each has
an impact on ISI variability and predictability, contains gaps in
knowledge that prevents them from being exploited by ISI forecast
systems, and there is potential social value for gaining knowledge of
each as a source of variability. Key examples of key processes that are
likely to contribute to improved ISI predictions include the Madden-
Julian Oscillation, ocean-atmosphere coupling, stratosphere-troposphere
interactions, land-atmosphere feedback, and high impact events
affecting atmospheric composition.
Underlying all of these recommendations is the challenge that the
basic state of the ocean is changing on scales that are faster than our
development of the understanding of those changes and how they might
impact the processes that are needed to incorporate in models to
advance our predictive capabilities and decision-support information.
Conclusions and Recommendations
I conclude my remarks by highlighting the value of public-funded/
private-funded partnerships to the future of R&D in this country. In
addition to the above, I believe my recommendations will help U.S.
ocean science community be more competitive in the international
research arena for decades; will help advance national priorities in
the economic, security, and research arenas; and ensure future success
by bolstering STEM initiatives that keep students involved, interested
and inspired to push the frontiers of knowledge and exploration beyond
what we can imagine today.
Jim Cameron's partnerships with Woods Hole Oceanographic
Institution and also with Scripps Institution of Oceanography are
welcome examples of how public and private funding can leverage each
other. But I must emphasize that this partnership and others like it
are only one type that helps us all meet these important national
objectives. At the core must be a significant public commitment by the
Federal Government supporting exploration, research, and observing
infrastructure about our planet and the ocean processes that have a
very real and significant impact on all of us every day.
Toward that end, I urge this committee to support the following:
1. Fully fund NSF budget requests and support ocean science research
by Navy/ONR, NOAA, NASA, DOE, and NIST. The leadership these
agencies provide through their science and technology programs
is essential to pursuing new lines of inquiry that can lead to
new technologies, industries, and jobs, as well as novel ways
to solve societal problems. Given the current 15-to-20-year
time-frame for doubling the NSFs budget, and taking into
account inflation, support for the premier U.S. science agency
is actually in danger of significantly declining in constant
dollars over that same period. Even in the face of very
difficult budget constraints and sequestration, continued
investment in NSF will provide the unanticipated dividends that
have helped our Nation maintain its global economic
competitiveness and leadership. Support for the NSF also
enhances STEM initiatives, from K-12 through post-graduate,
which further ensure U.S. leadership and competitiveness for
2. Reauthorize the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation Act.
This legislation provides the foundation for a national ocean
observing system--one that enhances those provided by states
and other non-governmental, academic, and private entities--to
shed light on the oceans and provide knowledge and forecasts
for fisheries, coastal residents, and shipping. Even with the
existing and potential advances by IOOS assets, there is
currently very limited capacity to understand what is happening
below the surface of the ocean temporally or spatially. Broad
spatial and temporal observation of the ocean will complement
existing Earth-observing capacity that is currently dominated
by satellite observation of terrestrial and atmospheric
processes. Moreover, we are still learning about physical
processes within the ocean that have a direct impact on
humanity. This will require additional support for operational
ocean observing systems and, support for mission-driven
agencies such as NOAA, ONR, NASA, and other Federal agencies.
3. Reauthorize America COMPETES legislation to bolster innovation,
research and development, and STEM initiatives. Support science
(R&D) and education (STEM) funding in general and, increasing
understanding of the importance influence of ocean processes on
humanity, in particular, will ensure our country has a ready
supply of technological capacity and of young people with the
drive and inspiration to push the boundaries of knowledge and
gain the skills that will benefit the U.S. economy,
environment, and national security well into the future.
4. Continue to support and sponsor the lead role of the U.S. and its
ocean agencies on the critical international stage. The U.S.
has provided international leadership and funding in sustained
ocean observations, especially for the development and
operations of key networks including the tsunami observing
system, the TOGA array, the Argo float network, and OceanSites
array. Our declining leadership puts much of the existing ocean
observation networks at risk.
Thank you again for this opportunity to address the Committee.
Addendum: List of Supporting Material
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Overview
WHOI Vessels and Vehicles
Human Occupied Vehicle Alvin
WHOI Center for Marine Robotics (CMR) Overview
Oceanus Magazine, Volume 48, Number 3, October 2011
Deepwater Horizon: Mustering scientific muscle during a national crisis
News Release: Explorer and Filmmaker James Cameron Gives DEEPSEA
CHALLENGER Sub to Woods Hole, March 26, 2013
Consortium for Ocean Leadership Ocean Priorities
Senator Begich. Thank you very much, Dr. Avery.
Next we have Ed Page, Executive Director of Alaska Marine
Ed, good to see you again. Thanks for participating in our
effort a few months ago in Alaska on issues of the Arctic.
STATEMENT OF CAPTAIN EDWARD PAGE, BOARD CHAIR, ALASKA OCEAN
OBSERVING SYSTEM AND EXECUTIVE
DIRECTOR, MARINE EXCHANGE OF ALASKA
Captain Page. Well, thank you, Senator, and thank you,
Senator Cantwell, for allowing me the opportunity to testify
today regarding the Alaska Ocean Observing System and also the
Integrated Ocean Observing System.
I am providing a little different perspective than Mr.
Cameron. I stay on top of the ocean----
Captain Page.--and I am going to stay on top so we won't
have any competition down there.
For the last 45 years, I have been involved in the safety
of maritime operations, both as a Coast Guard captain and chief
of marine safety for the Pacific Area and captain of the port
and other functions and now presently as a mariner operating
commercial vessels and Executive Director of the Marine
Exchange of Alaska, which is a nonprofit maritime organization
providing information to aid safe, secure, efficient, and
environmentally sound maritime operations, as well as the Chair
of the Alaska Ocean Observing System.
I have sailed on Coast Guard vessels, tankers, container
ships, fishing vessels, offshore supply vessels, landing craft,
cruise ships, cargo vessels, whatever, throughout Alaska waters
dating back to 1973, when I first sailed to Alaska from Boston.
I can say from experience that operating in Alaska is a
very harsh, extreme environment with many challenges,
environmental challenges, and with new waterways opening,
thanks to the opening of the Artic or the ice between the
Arctic. And all of this requires good environmental information
for mariners to operate safely and to respond to emergencies.
Alaska is a huge state with 39,000 miles of shoreline, most
of which is remote, and mariners and sailing explorers have
limited communications. The Marine Exchange has been involved
in developing a vessel tracking system throughout the state in
hundreds of locations, from the Arctic out to the Aleutian
Islands, down southeast, where we track vessels.
But we also, through the partnership of AOOS, have been
able to bring the science to these vessel tracking systems and
adding weather sensors that can provide real-time information
to vessels and the National Weather Service. We are taking the
science information and providing it to mariners real-time to
aid maritime safety and efficiency and also aid emergency
This information is valuable to the maritime industry, to
the Coast Guard, to the state of Alaska, to NGOS who are doing
research on the environment, as well as other agencies,
Department of the Interior and others, who have a stake in
environmental protection in Alaska.
This is enabled through the AOOS partnership forum. The
meetings at AOOS are comprised of all these different entities
who pool their resources and, through leveraging their
resources, are able to provide much more capabilities in
detecting ice and reporting that information and weather
information. All of that is valuable to research but also the
day-to-day operations of vessels operating in our waters.
As you know, AOOS, or Alaska Ocean Observing System, is 1
of 11 regional systems that have partnered with 17 Federal
agencies and state agencies in the Integrated Ocean Observing
System. And AOOS is uniquely equipped to leverage public and
private observations, as has been done in Alaska, to meet
regional needs, improving the Nation's economy, navigation
safety, and ocean ecosystems.
The IOOS legislation provides a framework for building this
system of systems that links and enhances our existing
observing capacity. It is an innovative approach for leveraging
resources, one that relies on partnerships, being cost-
effective and responsive.
And it is working. Eleven regional systems, including AOOS,
rely on the partnership to address the societal needs of safe
commerce and navigation, climate variability, as we are
experiencing in Alaska, ecology, and environmental hazards. And
we do so in close partnership with the universities, private
companies, government agencies, and others. And IOOS links
together partners at the regional level and leverages resources
nationwide. It is cost-effective, flexible, responsive, and
And, of course, the systems and information provided by
IOOS have been used in the responses to Superstorm Sandy, the
Deepwater Horizon spill, and in search and rescue periodically
by the Coast Guard.
These are just a few examples of how IOOS is making a
difference. And we, accordingly, urge the reauthorization of
the ICOOS Act of 2009 to ensure that the Nation's ocean,
coastal, and Great Lakes observing systems are sustained and
I know we are here today to talk about deep sea challenges,
but I also have to talk about the challenge of operating
vessels on the surface of the ocean and how important IOOS is
to their safe operation.
And the rapid development that is occurring in Alaska
presents some unique challenges and also an opportunity for us
to set in place some responsible risk-reduction measures,
including observations communication products delivered from
observations, such as rain forecasts.
In closing, I urge the continued and expanded risk-
mitigating measures like the Arctic Research, Monitoring, and
Observing Act that you are proposing, Senator, as well as the
ICOOS Reauthorization Act.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak here today.
[The prepared statement of Captain Page follows:]
Prepared Statement of Captain Edward Page, Board Chair, Alaska Ocean
Observing System and Executive Director, Marine Exchange of Alaska
Chairman Begich, Ranking Member Rubio and Members of the
Subcommittee, thank you for inviting me here today to talk about
innovative partnerships in ocean observations and the Alaska Ocean
Observing System in particular. I am Ed Page, Chair of the Board of the
Alaska Ocean Observing System and Executive Director of the Marine
Exchange of Alaska.
During my 30+ years in the Coast Guard followed by 12 years as
executive director of the Marine Exchange of Alaska, I have sailed on
Coast Guard vessels, oil tankers, container ships, fishing vessels,
tugs, oil exploration and support vessels, oil spill response vessels,
cruise ships and cargo ships throughout Alaska. I can say from
experience that operating in Alaska presents unique challenges and
risks. Increases in vessel traffic, the opening of new waterways as ice
impacted waters recede and changing ocean conditions will only
intensify risks to all maritime operations. Today I am going to share
just one innovative partnership--between my organization and the Alaska
regional component of the national Integrated Ocean Observing System--
that both adds value and reduces risks in a notoriously harsh
Alaska is a huge state with over 39,000 miles of shoreline, most of
which is remote and mariners sailing these waters are mostly outside of
cell or VHF range. The Marine Exchange of Alaska was established in
2000 to bring the far-flung maritime community together to develop an
extensive network of over 100 Automatic Identification System (AIS)
receivers to track vessels operating in Alaska. I am proud to say that
my organization has helped prevent maritime accidents, assisted
emergency response efforts, and aided the maritime community to comply
with state and Federal regulations for vessel tracking; but that's not
why I'm here today. I am here today to tell you about what happened
when my organization began working with the Alaska Ocean Observing
AOOS is the Alaska component of the national Integrated Ocean
Observing System, which seeks not only to increase ocean observations
to meet societal needs to improve the Nation's economy, navigation
safety and ocean ecosystems, but also to integrate the plethora of
observations made by multiple state, federal, local and private sector
entities to aid stakeholder decisionmaking.
From the AOOS perspective, my organization is really just one
stakeholder group in the region. AOOS works with everyone: with
industry, state and Federal researchers to share data and observations;
with the National Weather Service to integrate real-time weather and
ocean observations to improve forecasts; and with the commercial
maritime industry, whom I represent, who also need environmental
information that aids safe, secure, efficient and environmentally sound
maritime operations. Partnering with AOOS didn't just help us to do our
job better; it brought us into a collaborative relationship with other
groups in our region to leverage our resources and cultivate mutual
Until the Marine Exchange of Alaska partnered with the Alaska Ocean
Observing System AIS communication with boats was one-way and the
information was strictly geographic. Search and rescue could track a
vessel in trouble, but there was no way to warn individuals at sea if
conditions or forecasts changed once a vessel went out of cell or VHF
Radio range. Listening to various stakeholders, AOOS identified a need
for real-time weather information while at sea. They approached us to
partner on a project using the AIS system to provide real-time weather
conditions to mariners. AOOS staff is now working closely with mariners
to deliver critical ocean and coastal information with this new
technology and exploring opportunities to enhance the delivery of real
time weather, ice and other environmental data as well as marine
forecasts. This private-public partnership delivers a cost effective
solution to a regional problem that no other government agency or
contractor was set up to do. Remarkably, it is one of over a dozen
similar projects this small but agile regional organization is able to
support throughout the state.
Another example of the AOOS private-public partnership is their
willingness to host the public access portal for all of the oil and gas
industry-collected data in the Chukchi Sea that is now available to the
larger scientific community as a result of the NOAA data sharing
agreement with Shell, ConocoPhillips and Statoil. The industry data,
valued at approximately $80 million, will be of tremendous value as
Federal and state managers make decisions about how best to manage oil
and gas development in the Alaska Arctic.
The Alaska Ocean Observing System model of regional collaboration
is one that should be replicated as the U.S. Arctic continues to open
up. I commend Senator Begich's Arctic Research, Monitoring and
Observing Act, which offers a roadmap to improve maritime safety and
advance marine science. For those of you who may be less familiar with
Senate Bill 272, this bill recognizes that the Arctic is undergoing
profound changes. The region is warming at twice the rate of the global
average and seasonal sea ice is diminishing both in area and volume.
Growing interest in oil and gas, commercial fishing, marine shipping
and tourism are also driving changes now and down the road. This
legislation would provide sustained support for long-term research,
monitoring and ocean observing programs in the Arctic Ocean, Bering Sea
and North Pacific. Long-term observations in particular are difficult
to fund; but they provide the backbone of most of the products--like
sea ice and weather forecasts and emergency response plans that so many
mariners and coastal residents rely on. We are especially supportive of
providing sustained funding for the Alaska Ocean Observing System to
provide the critical observations needed to sustain a healthy Arctic.
The Alaska Ocean Observing System is one of the 11 regional systems
that have partnered with 17 Federal agencies as part of the Integrated
Ocean Observing System--IOOS--to provide services to the entire
coastline of the U.S., including the Great Lakes. Regional systems like
AOOS are uniquely equipped to leverage public and private observations
to meet regional needs improving the Nation's economy, navigation
safety and ocean ecosystems. For that reason, we also are in support of
reauthorizing of the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observing System Act
of 2009 (ICOOS) that provides the foundation for our work in the
The Act provides the framework for building a ``system of systems''
that links and enhances our existing observing capacity. It is an
innovative approach for government, one that relies on partnerships to
be cost-effective and responsive. And, it is working. The 11 regional
systems, including AOOS, rely on partnerships to address the societal
needs of safe commerce and navigation, climate variability, ecology and
hazards. They do so in close partnership with universities, private
companies, government agencies and others. IOOS links together partners
at the regional level and leverages resources. IOOS is a cost-
effective, flexible, responsive and innovative.
These partnerships work:
Superstorm Sandy. During Superstorm Sandy, the marine
transportation industry in the New York/New Jersey area made
preparations based on forecast products derived from IOOS
observations. In the Port of NY and NJ, all vessels were moved
from anchorages in the Harbor. Over 6,700 containers were
diverted from the New York/New Jersey area to Virginia. The
cost estimate for these containers is approximately $1 Billion
(Marine Technology Society TechSurge Event 2012);
Deep Water Horizon Spill. The IOOS data management system
allowed for the seamless integration of data from non-federal
sources for use by the Unified Area Command. Prior to this,
valuable non-Federal information collected by universities,
state agencies or private companies was not accessible to
Federal responders. The IOOS data management system, based on
interoperable standards and services, now allows for the
integration of data from all relevant sources. In fact,
approximately 75 percent of the data now served by NOAA's
National Weather Service through the National Data Buoy Center
is from non-federal sources, most of which is directly
attributable to the work being done and supported by the
Much of the oil from the spill remained subsurface where,
despite the availability of technology, we lacked the ability
to readily monitor the flow of oil. IOOS, through its regional
network, redeployed several underwater gliders from around the
country to assist with subsurface monitoring efforts. This
unique and flexible capability is one of the hallmarks of the
Search and Rescue. The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that with
the use of IOOS data on real-time surface currents they can
reduce the search area for a distress call by two-thirds,
increasing the chances of safe recovery.
These are just a few of the many examples of how IOOS is making a
difference. We urge the reauthorization of the ICOOS Act of 2009 to
ensure that the Nation's ocean, coastal and Great Lakes observing
systems are sustained and enhanced.
We're here today to talk about Deep Sea Challenges, and the rapid
development that is occurring in Alaska does present challenges and
also an opportunity to set in place responsible risk reduction
measures, including both observations and communication of products
derived from observations, like marine forecasts.
I hope that my experience with the Alaska Ocean Observing System
illustrates the potential and the proven success of this innovative
approach and I hope that the folks in this room leave here today
feeling at least a fraction of the urgency that I feel about the need
to implement risk mitigating measures like the Arctic Research,
Monitoring and Observing Act and the ICOOS Act Reauthorization now.
Senator Begich. Thank you very much.
And next we have Dr. Newton, Senior Principal
Oceanographer, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of
Thank you for being here.
STATEMENT OF JAN NEWTON, Ph.D., EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
NORTHWEST ASSOCIATION OF NETWORKED OCEAN
OBSERVING SYSTEMS; PRINCIPAL OCEANOGRAPHER,
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON APPLIED PHYSICS
LABORATORY; AND AFFILIATE ASSISTANT PROFESSOR,
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON SCHOOL OF OCEANOGRAPHY
Ms. Newton. Thank you, Chairman Begich, and thank you,
Senator Cantwell, for this opportunity to testify with you here
today and to talk about innovative partnerships in ocean
observations, specifically the Northwest Association of
Networked Ocean Observing Systems, or NANOOS, which is part of
the United States Integrated Ocean Observing Systems, or U.S.
My name is Jan Newton, and I am a Principal Oceanographer
at the University of Washington, the Executive Director of
NANOOS, and also a University of Washington faculty member.
As a graduate student starting out studying ocean processes
on ships, I found so many of the research cruises, which are
conducted over the span of a few weeks, encountered what folks
said were anomalous conditions. And this repeated situation
spoke volumes to me that if so many cruises revealed the
unexpected, then maybe we really don't know that much about the
state of the oceans.
So it has been a logical passion for me to be one of the
many implementing IOOS and leading those efforts in the Pacific
Northwest via NANOOS.
I think the genius of IOOS is that it goes beyond just the
science, to bring ocean observations to all sectors of society
for diverse and compelling needs, such as safe maritime
transport, sustained health of natural resources, response to
extreme weather or tsunami events.
IOOS is a congressionally established, stakeholder-driven,
and science-based ocean analog of the National Weather Service.
It provides and enhances our nation's access to data from
oceans, coasts, estuaries, and Great Lakes. It was designed and
is implemented with both a Federal and a regional footprint,
allowing IOOS to connect with regional stakeholders while still
maintaining national consistency. IOOS is the essence of an
NANOOS is the regional association for the Pacific
Northwest, just as AOOS is for Alaska. We work with diverse
stakeholders in Washington and Oregon to understand their
information needs and to coordinate and support development,
implementation, and operation of a regional coastal ocean
observing system, the buoys, radars, models, and data
management capacity to provide data and data products on the
spatial and time scales that meet their needs.
Established in 2003, NANOOS is a growing partnership of
almost 50 entities, and that is industry, tribes, state, local,
Federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, education and
research institutions, who form our governing council. We work
with IOOS to implement national priorities on a regional scale
and to understand regional Pacific needs.
To build NANOOS, we integrated existing regional assets,
not only the technologies but also the people, in a sustained
way to build a network system, whereby at this very moment,
from our NANOOS data portal, I can click on buttons that tell
me the sea temperature 13 miles off La Push, Washington, the pH
in the seawater intake at Taylor Shellfish and Hatchery, the
oxygen at the bottom of Hood Canal, the sediment load in the
Columbia River, the offshore currents along the coast of
Oregon, and the predicted temperature of the coastal waters off
Those may sound like disparate and esoteric things to know,
but to shellfish growers who want to know whether to spawn
their oyster larvae, to the fisheries manager who wants to know
if fish are subject to additional stress from reduced oxygen
before setting fisheries catch limits, to the Columbia River
Bar pilot who wants to navigate the entrance channel safely, to
the true heroes of the Coast Guard who need to optimize the
effectiveness of their search and rescue operations, and to the
recreational tuna fishing captains who want to optimize their
safety and profitable local businesses, all of those data
inform decision points that NANOOS currently delivers to the
users. And each one of those is a real example I mention where
NANOOS is making a difference.
By building NANOOS, we have dramatically increased the
efficiency in how taxpayer-purchased ocean data, as well as
privately funded ocean data, reaches the hands of the public,
both regionally and nationally.
The Federal investment in NANOOS reaps substantial return.
For example, we partially support 19 data streams, yet through
partnerships we serve 176. And those additional ones are from
other Federal programs, as well as from state, tribal, and
industry data providers who want their data served in this
fashion. And, together, we have a better integrated picture of
IOOS builds communities of practice, and those are
communities of practice from disparate groups. So our data
management system was designed and implemented by a team from
three regional universities working with The Boeing Company.
The national high-frequency radars that the U.S. IOOS team has
over 10 years consolidated has gone from a handful of radars to
130, all operated as a single network with nationally
compatible data, operated by academic and industry partners,
led by IOOS.
The Federal investment in sustaining ocean observations
makes a difference and provides a significant return on
investment. Prior to 2010, we had no sustained observations of
subsurface water properties, like oxygen, nutrients, pH, off
the coast of Washington. Because IOOS investments in NANOOS are
used for jobs to sustain those regional observations, we were
able to obtain a $500,000 grant from the Murdock Charitable
Trust to build a state-of-the-art buoy and glider system,
yielding yet unprecedented data series with new scientific
discoveries like 40-meter internal waves and key data to assess
hypoxia and ocean acidification.
The IOOS observing system, including this buoy at La Push,
is being utilized to provide an early-warning system for ocean
acidification to support local shellfish growers and hatchery
owners, helping them to save over $35 million in 2011 alone.
And I would say that is a great return on investment for the $2
million budget awarded to NANOOS for the entirety of our
A local shellfish grower, Mark Wiegardt, co-owner of
Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery, said it this way: ``Putting
an IOOS buoy in the water is like putting headlights in a car.
It lets us see changing water conditions in real-time.''
We also interact with the Columbia River Bar pilots, like
Captain Dan Jordan, with now the ability to provide real-time
wave conditions and forecasts for the Columbia River system
that, alone, handles 300 million tons of foreign trade worth
$16 billion a year.
IOOS stimulates government efficiency, stimulates the
economy, provides jobs, and increases quality of life for the
nation. In short, IOOS works.
And I am grateful to our Washington State Senator, Maria
Cantwell, for her leadership in supporting IOOS and promoting
reauthorization of the ICOOS Act. The ICOOS Act of 2009, as you
heard, enables IOOS to be a Federal-regional partnership. And I
request the Committee's support for this.
You also asked for my input on the implications of climate
change on ocean waters, such as warming, altered productivity,
and ocean acidification. And I ask that we all take a breath
and then, after you do that, take another. Please understand
that the oxygen for every other breath that you take was
supplied by the ocean, the phytoplankton in the ocean, the
other being supplied by terrestrial plants. So the oceans are
critical to every other breath that we take.
Only 33 percent of the surface of the Earth is the part
that we live in--definitely the minority. I often reflect that
the sight of sea surface without any land visible is a foreign
sight to most of the population of our planet, yet truly that
is the most common sight of the Earth.
So, as we have changed the composition of our atmosphere,
these alterations have indeed heated the planet and increased
the concentrations of CO2 that diffuses into the
oceans. These have strong implications for the food web. And as
increased CO2 changes the pH, it shifts the ocean
waters toward a more acidified state. Species such as oysters,
pteropods, which are food for salmon, and of course ecosystems
such as coral reefs have less capacity to be formed or to be
competitive. And this effect is certainly being felt in the
It has been my honor to work with Dr. Richard Feely of
NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Lab researching OA in
Washington State. And, as a partner, NANOOS is making high-
quality measurements for assessing, modeling, and communicating
the regional status of ocean acidification. Via IOOS, NANOOS
works with the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program. And these
synergies assure the most effective use of limited ocean
I was one of seven scientists appointed to then-Governor
Christine Gregoire's Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification
to develop recommendations and actions needed to ensure the
health and economy of Washington State. It appears that some of
these recommendations may be funded at limited levels in the
next biennium through the Washington State legislature, actions
such as monitoring, forecasting, and food web impact
assessment. But I want you to know that these actions dovetail
extremely well with the Federal investments from NOAA's Ocean
Acidification Program and from U.S. IOOS in NANOOS.
So national leadership that can be implemented regionally
can only succeed when there is a strong community of practice
that builds an allegiance and the human network required to
assure that common methods and calibrations are implemented.
The reauthorization of both the Federal Ocean Acidification
Research and Monitoring, or FOARAM Act and the ICOOS Act will
assure that this will continue and in a cost-effective manner.
And I urge your actions on these both.
And I thank you for my time.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Newton follows:]
Prepared Statement of Jan Newton, Ph.D., Executive Director, Northwest
Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems; Principal
Oceanographer, University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory; and
Affiliate Assistant Professor, University of Washington School of
Good Afternoon Chairman Begich, Ranking Member Rubio, and members
of the Subcommittee. I want to thank you sincerely for inviting me here
to talk about innovative partnerships in ocean observations and
specifically, the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing
Systems, NANOOS, part of the United States Integrated Ocean Observing
System (U.S. IOOS) Program. My name is Jan Newton. I am a Principal
Oceanographer at the University of Washington Applied Physics
Laboratory and the Executive Director of NANOOS. I am also faculty in
the University of Washington's College of the Environment.
Introduction: U.S. IOOS and NANOOS
To give you context, as a scientist who trained to be an
oceanographer, I certainly did not set out to be an Executive Director
of anything. My path has evolved in a very logical way actually. As a
graduate student studying ocean processes via ships, I soon found that
so many of our research cruises, which are conducted over the span of a
few weeks, encountered what folks said were ``anomalous'' conditions.
This repeated situation spoke volumes to me that if every cruise seemed
to reveal the unexpected, then maybe we really don't know that much
about the state of the oceans. So, as a scientist wanting to understand
nature, it has been a logical passion for me to be one of the many
involved with implementing IOOS, helping to bring this system on-line,
and to lead those efforts in the Pacific Northwest via our NANOOS.
The genius of IOOS is that it goes beyond ``just the science'' to
bring ocean observations to all sectors of society for diverse but
compelling needs, such as safe maritime transport, sustained health of
natural resources, and response to extreme events. IOOS is a
congressionally-established, stakeholder-driven, and science-based
``ocean analog'' of the National Weather Service. It provides and
enhances our Nation's access to data from the oceans, coasts, estuaries
and Great Lakes. Because it is implemented with both a Federal and
regional footprint, this allows IOOS to connect with regional
stakeholders while maintaining national consistency. IOOS is the
essence of an innovative partnership. The U.S. IOOS Program Office
while housed at NOAA interacts with a broad Federal agency family, as
well as with a network of eleven non-federal Regional Associations. I
want to tell you more about how we implement IOOS through one of those
Regional Associations, NANOOS, in the Pacific Northwest.
For the states of Washington and Oregon, we at NANOOS work with
diverse stakeholders to understand their needs and to coordinate and
support the development, implementation, and operation of a regional
coastal ocean observing system- the buoys, radars, models and data
management capacity--to provide ocean data and data products to diverse
end users on the spatial and temporal scales that meet their needs.
While I say ``oceans'' . . . in the context of IOOS and NANOOS this
means the coastal ocean, which includes our estuaries, bays, and
How did NANOOS build its ocean observing system?
We formed a partnership of Pacific Northwest industry, tribes,
local, state, and Federal agencies, non-government organizations, and
educational and research institutions. Established in 2003, NANOOS is a
growing partnership of almost 50 entities now. The NANOOS system
encompasses not only ocean observations, but also data management,
modeling and analysis, generating useful information products,
providing outreach to various audiences to connect them with the
information they need, and increasing the region's ocean literacy. To
do this, we had two very simple yet compelling strategies for building
the system: 1) integrate the assets we had in the region and 2)
prioritize what we needed. With NOAA funds, NANOOS implements IOOS
regionally through its partnerships.
How does NANOOS decide where to make our investments?
The nearly 50 NANOOS member partners who have signed our Memorandum
of Agreement (MOA) appoint a person to our Governing Council and
annually establish NANOOS' regional priorities. Using the input from
our Governing Council, we have harnessed our infrastructure, the
technological observing capacity as well as the skilled workforce, to
build a networked system whereby at this very moment from our NANOOS
data portal I can click on buttons that tell me the sea temperature 13
miles off La Push Washington, the pH in the seawater intake at Taylor
Shellfish hatchery, the oxygen at the bottom of Hood Canal, the
sediment load in the Columbia River, the offshore currents along the
coast of Oregon, and the predicted temperature of the coastal waters
off Newport. These may sound like disparate and esoteric things to
know, but to the shellfish growers who wants to know whether to spawn
their oyster larvae, to the fisheries manager who wants to know if fish
are subject to stress from reduced oxygen before setting fisheries
catch limits, to the Columbia River bar pilot who wants to navigate the
entrance channel safely, to the true heroes of the Coast Guard who need
to optimize the effectiveness of their search and rescue operations,
and to the recreational tuna fishing captains who want to optimize
their safety and profitable local businesses, these data all inform
decision points that NANOOS currently delivers to these users. Each one
of those examples I mentioned is a real case showing how NANOOS is
making a difference through our partnerships.
What does NANOOS achieve for the Nation and the region?
By building NANOOS, we have dramatically increased the efficiency
in how tax-payer purchased ocean data as well as privately-funded ocean
data reaches the hands of the public, both regionally and nationally.
My two favorite words to describe IOOS and NANOOS are ``leverage'' and
``link,'' which we do in spades. The Federal investment in NANOOS reaps
substantial return, for example, we use our Federal dollars received
from the U.S. IOOS Program Office to partially, yes partially, support
19 data streams throughout Washington and Oregon. Yet because of the
partnerships we have made, our data portal makes 176 data streams
available to the public . . . nearly an order of magnitude more. The
balance are Federal assets (funded by other Federal programs) collected
throughout our region as well as private, state, tribal, or other data
providers who want the data services that NANOOS offers. As we collect
and integrate these disparate data streams, we are able to use them to
provide information products like the types I mentioned above.
There is a second efficiency in IOOS, and that is that we have
built a community of practice. We have integrated the people. This is
another aspect of innovative partnership that has paid off
Our data management system was designed and implemented by a
team from three regional universities, UW, OSU, and OHSU,
working the Boeing Company, an industry with a wide footprint
in our region. Each member organization came with a unique
perspective and capability, but together as a team they built a
system that has seen great success and has been shared with
other IOOS Regional Associations. The innovation that happens
at the regional level is shared with the national level and
vice versa; regional data systems are linked through standards
and protocols to the national system.
Our observational effort on water quality has integrated
university, federal, tribal, state, and industry scientists and
practitioners, to share practices and increase data quality.
Also, when a new and better sensor comes along, NANOOS can take
advantage of letting this network know about it, and if
adequately funded, NANOOS could provide the new sensors to our
partners to implement on their existing platforms.
NANOOS and the IOOS Regional Associations in California have
a Memorandum of Understanding with the West Coast Governors
Alliance to work collectively together and optimize efforts on
marine spatial planning, ocean acidification, marine debris,
and other priorities.
The NANOOS observing system sustains high-frequency radars
that measure surface currents off Oregon; NANOOS serves these
data directly to the U.S. Coast Guard to assist with search and
rescue. Our new NANOOS ``Maritime Operations'' portal,
developed with input from mariners, like the Marine Exchange of
Puget Sound, provides real-time wave observations offshore the
coast, high-resolution wave forecasts out to 84 hours in the
future, virtual wave stations showing changes in wave height
and where the waves are coming from, and high-frequency radar
surface maps of ocean currents. This is part of the national HF
Radar network, a direct result of U.S. IOOS. In 2002 there were
only a handful of radars; this has now grown to 130, all
operated as a single network with nationally compatible data.
Operation by 30 academic institutions nationwide in partnership
with a U.S. company (CODAR Ocean Sensors), all led by the U.S.
IOOS program is the kind of innovative partnering that
epitomizes U.S. IOOS.
NANOOS Successes from Innovative Partnering
The Federal investment in sustaining ocean observations makes a
difference and provides a significant return on investment. For
example, prior to 2010 there were no sustained observations of
subsurface water properties, like oxygen, nutrients, pH and chlorophyll
off the coast of Washington. We were able to obtain a $500K grant from
the Murdock Charitable Trust to build a state-of-the-art observation
system, with surface and profiling buoys and an autonomous Seaglider,
to yield 3-dimensional data through time. Our successful competition
for this award was in part because IOOS represented anticipated funds
for sustaining the operation of these assets well into the future. Now
three years in, we have an unprecedented data series, new scientific
discoveries such as 40 m high internal waves, as well as key data to
assess hypoxia and ocean acidification. It was obvious to the Murdock
Charitable Trust that NANOOS was well-networked within our region and
the payoff from the data would be shared, not only to regional
scientists but also so many others across society. We have partnered
with NOAA's Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary to add a current
meter they had onto our buoy, with the Quileute Tribe to optimize the
buoy's weather sensing, and with NOAA's Ocean Acidification Program and
NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory to work together
measuring variables to assess ocean acidification on this buoy, now
part of the NOAA Ocean Acidification Buoy Network. The IOOS observing
system, including this buoy, is being utilized to provide an early
warning system for ocean acidification to support local shellfish
growers and hatchery owners, helping them to save over $35M in 2011
alone. A local shellfish grower, Mark Weigardt, co-owner of Whiskey
Creek Shellfish Hatchery said it this way: ``Putting an IOOS buoy in
the water is like putting headlights on a car. It lets us see changing
water conditions in real time.''
Some of our other successes:
NANOOS assisted Oregon and Washington state agencies with
the development of a Pacific Northwest tsunami evacuation
portal and mobile app; a visual representation of the expected
inundation of coastal areas and communities from a worst-case
locally generated tsunami (similar magnitude to the 2011 Japan
earthquake), as well as from a distant event adjacent to the
Aleutian Islands. Users search by street address to determine
if they are in the tsunami hazard zone, and plan an escape
route accordingly. The portal also provides direct links to the
West Coast Alaska Tsunami warning center, notifying users of a
tsunami watch or warning.
NANOOS supports the collection of beach information--
flooding, erosion, and seasonal sand changes--along the Oregon
and Washington coasts. These data are being used by engineers
and resource managers to assist with the design and permitting
of coastal engineering structures, to understanding the rates
and patterns of coastal change, and to support FEMA.
Now Columbia River bar pilots, like Captain Dan Jordan, a
NANOOS advisor, can access real-time wave conditions directly
offshore of the Columbia River's mouth--a busy port of entry
with hazardous currents and large waves--to assist with the
safe passage of vessels. The Pacific Northwest, home to more
than 20 ports supporting commercial, fishing, transportation,
security, and recreational activities, benefits from this
information service. The ports connect the U.S. with foreign
markets and with a fishing industry worth about $800 million in
personal income annually. The Columbia River system handles 30
million tons of foreign trade and $16 billion in value each
I think these examples show how IOOS and NANOOS are good
government, implement national priorities on a regional scale,
stimulate the economy, provide jobs, and increase quality of life for
While there are many successes, we could do much more. For example,
you will notice I said ``NANOOS observing system sustains high-
frequency radars that measure surface currents off Oregon.'' NANOOS
sustains these systems, originally purchased through research grants
through the National Science Foundation. NANOOS has proposed to build
similar capacity in Washington, but funding allocated to the IOOS
program has not been sufficient to allow us to do so. Elsewhere such
surface current data are used in combination with computer-run models
to predict the movement of water, tracking associated items such as
marine debris and harmful algal blooms. We do not have this capability
in Washington state, and I know many of the other IOOS Regional
Associations face similar inequities in their regions. Our nation
deserves a contiguous capacity along all its coasts for measuring
surface currents through this proven technology.
The Future for IOOS and the ICOOS Act Re-authorization
The IOOS Program stands on the shoulders of great visionaries, such
as Admiral Watkins. U.S. IOOS was recommended by both the Ocean
Commission established by former President Bush, the Pew Commission
which stills calls for its full implementation, and the importance of
sustained observations is called out in President Obama's National
Ocean Policy. The Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observing System (ICOOS)
Act passed by you and signed into law by President Obama has been a
strong tool to advance U.S. IOOS. Administered by NOAA as the lead
Federal agency, the U.S. IOOS Program has been well conceived and, I
believe, very well implemented. The success stories I shared here are
repeated many times over within NANOOS, but also within the other ten
Regional Associations of IOOS, comprising the entirety of the United
States, including its Great Lakes, Caribbean and Pacific Islands, and
three continental coastlines, Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific. IOOS has
stimulated green U.S. jobs and technology innovation. In short, IOOS
The ICOOS Act of 2009 enables IOOS to be a federal-regional
partnership that connects with regional stakeholders while maintaining
national consistency and addressing national priorities at the regional
level. I strongly urge you to re-authorize the ICOOS Act so that this
successful example of governmental efficiency and innovative federal-
non-federal partnership can continue and grow. The IOOS distributed
system, as witnessed by the diverse membership of its 11 Regional
Associations, by its NOAA leadership and the U.S. IOOS Program Office,
the Interagency Ocean Observing Systems Committee, and by the nearly
200 individuals who attended the IOOS Summit held in Reston VA in
November 2012 and signed its Declaration from which I quote: ``Now,
more than ever, the United States requires a sustained and integrated
ocean observing system.'' I am grateful to our Washington State Senator
Maria Cantwell for her leadership in supporting IOOS and promoting the
re-authorization of the ICOOS Act.
I want to underscore the importance of Congress' funding of IOOS at
levels that do not jeopardize the sustained operation and expansion of
IOOS. I applaud the Senate for your leadership on this to date. Without
your action in 2012 and 2013, I potentially faced having to cut the
program by $250K. With a program so highly leveraged already, my
decision for a cut of that magnitude was to either eliminate support
for our data delivery system, or estuarine observations in Puget Sound
and the Columbia River, or observations on the WA and OR outer coast,
or observations of the shorelines. Given the input from our Governing
Council I honestly did not know how to make that decision. I thank you
for preventing me having to face that.
Climate Change and the Oceans
You have also requested my input on the implications of climate
change on ocean waters, such as warming, altered productivity, and
ocean acidification. As a teacher, it is my honor to comment on the
importance of these ocean issues. First I ask that we all take a breath
. . . and after you do that take another. Please understand that the
oxygen for every other breath you take is supplied by algae,
phytoplankton, in the worlds' oceans, with the other breath from
terrestrial plants, trees and grasses. With Earth's land masses being
productive, yet in the minority . . . only 33 percent of the surface of
the earth . . . we absolutely depend on the oceans for our very life. I
often reflect that sight of the sea surface without any land visible is
a foreign sight to most of the population of our planet, yet it truly
is the most common sight on planet Earth.
As humans have changed the composition of our atmosphere, these
alterations have indeed heated the planet and increased the
concentration of CO2 that diffuses into the oceans. These
changes have very strong implications for the plankton at the base of
the ocean food web and all that depend on these organisms. As the
heating changes the temperature of seawater and its density layering,
this inhibits the ability of the ocean to supply nutrients upward and
to ventilate its deep waters with oxygen; these changes have
implications to select for an ocean that does not support the same life
in exactly the same way we are accustomed to. While there will
undoubtedly be as yet unpredicted consequences there are some things we
do know that are well established scientifically. As the increased
CO2 changes the pH of the ocean waters towards a more
acidified state, this selects for what life forms can thrive. Species
such as oysters, pteropods (food for salmon) and of course ecosystems
such as coral reefs have less capacity to be formed or be competitive.
It has been my professional honor to work with Dr. Richard Feely of
NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and his group
researching ocean acidification in the local waters of Washington
State. It has also been my responsibility to direct the capacity of
NANOOS to participate in making high quality measurements for
assessing, modeling, and communicating the status of ocean
acidification in the Pacific Northwest. NANOOS works via IOOS with the
NOAA Ocean Acidification Program (OAP), whose mandate is to provide the
Nation with high quality data and leadership on this issue. Two of
NANOOS' offshore buoys, one off Newport and one off La Push, receive
OAP funding to be part of our Nation's Ocean Acidification Buoy
Network. The synergies between these Federal programs and NANOOS have
assured the most effective use of limited ocean observing resources and
also provide free data access to our regional citizenry via the NANOOS
data portal. While local data access is important, another true wisdom
of IOOS is its nested design, such that any data stream NANOOS serves,
such as Taylor Shellfish pH data from Puget Sound, immediately is
available through the national IOOS data portal and available to the
global community as well.
The issue of ocean acidification is not only central to the
vitality of our thriving shellfish industry, but also to the tribes who
have treaty rights to sustained natural resources that have fed their
culture for thousands of years. Additionally, seafood such as oysters
and salmon are healthful foods that support our populace not only
regionally but also, via export, nationally and internationally.
I was one of seven scientists appointed to Governor Christine
Gregoire's Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification. Our panel
consolidated and reported what was known in our region regarding ocean
acidification, what information was missing, and what recommendations
and actions were needed to insure the health and economy of Washington
State. It appears that some of these recommendations will be funded
through the Washington State legislature, actions such as monitoring,
forecasting, and food-web impact assessment. These actions dovetail
extremely well with the Federal investments from NOAA's OAP and from
U.S. IOOS in NANOOS. National leadership that can be implemented
regionally can only succeed when there is a strong community of
practice that builds an allegiance and the human network required to
assure that common methods and calibrations are implemented. The NOAA
OAP has been adept at partnering with IOOS Regional Associations
throughout our Nation to expand their network several-fold in a highly
cost effective manner, yet with consistent methodology. NOAA's
leadership on this is to be commended. The re-authorization of the
Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring (FOARAM) Act will
assure this will continue and I urge your action to make this so.
I hope my testimony has illustrated the critical importance of the
oceans to so many of our daily practices, from breathing to shipping
cargo, and the great successes IOOS has already realized in serving to
bring ocean information to the public. I hope you share my view that
this system has an even greater potential to build on the innovative
partnerships we have established, if adequately funded, but that the
reauthorization of the ICOOS Act is essential. I hope I have
underscored in your minds the importance of the oceans' health. The 30
percent increase in ocean acidity we have achieved to date is not the
direction our children will appreciate from us. The reauthorization of
the FOARAM Act is imperative to guide the legacy we will want to leave.
I thank you for your leadership to our country and for this opportunity
to convey how urgent I think these two Acts are for our nation.
Senator Begich. Thank you very much.
Let me turn to Senator Cantwell, and I want to--Senator
Cantwell, we have been notified of 4 o'clock votes, so we will
have about 20 minutes here.
So let me turn to Senator Cantwell. We will start with 5
minutes. We may be a little flexible because----
Senator Cantwell. OK.
Senator Begich.--we are both here.
Senator Cantwell. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thanks
for holding this important hearing.
And from our part of the country, definitely these are
very, very important issues. So thank you to all the witnesses
And, Dr. Newton, thank you for bringing up that quote. That
was actually, I think, Bill Taylor--maybe you said that--from
Taylor Shellfish, about putting headlights on the cars.
And, certainly, to me, this is about information that we
now can acquire about the oceans. In fact, my staff was just
showing me this particular app that has a link to every buoy
that the fishermen then can link to and see wave, temperature,
all of these various things. So not only are we collecting the
information, we are making it available to people.
So my first question is, what do we need to do--I mean, in
the case of shellfish, that was real information on ocean
acidification that allowed them to do seeding at a different
time to be successful.
How many ocean acidification sensors are deployed today?
And what else do we need to do to build that network?
Ms. Newton. So I would say, nationally, I actually don't
know the number. I know that NOAA's Ocean Acidification Program
probably has on the order of, I am going to guess, 20
nationwide, but I will get back to you on that. But, in our
region, we really only have two. And I think that this is very
much underestimating the situation.
We have been very successful with those two offshore buoys,
one off La Push that I mentioned and one off Newport, because
it tells the nearest shore growers when ocean acidification
events are coming. But when you look at the inland waters, such
as Puget Sound or the Columbia River, we know that very
different conditions exist.
And so my examples are all from the Pacific Northwest, but
this is certainly true for Alaska, certainly true for the
Caribbean and the Northeast and all of the areas around our
So I see that we need a significant investment in expanding
these observations, but the great thing about IOOS is that the
platforms are there. It is not like we need to be putting a
whole bunch of new buoys in the water, because we have a lot of
buoys which could be adapted to be ocean acidification
monitoring buoys. And we have the human infrastructure, and we
have the data delivery systems. The app that you saw that
NANOOS produced is also mirrored by other regional associations
and by IOOS.
So I think we have some of the picture, but we need the
sustained support and the way to grow it.
Senator Cantwell. I have been a big fan of using our new
high-tech Doppler radar system to get a better weather-ready
nation, in the context that so much can be known about these
storms now. There are all sorts of algorithms that if people
would just put high-power computing time behind, they would
tell us some of the potential damage that we are looking at
coming at us and give us better preparation.
Do you think using high-frequency radar with the buoy
system and combining all this data under NOAA in a forecasting
situation would be good for us as it relates to hurricanes and
some of the events that we are seeing, maybe some that we see
in the Northwest but certainly other parts of the country see
way more frequently than we do?
Ms. Newton. I absolutely do. And I know that during
Superstorm Sandy that was actually put to test. And the HF
radar measurements that were made by MACOORA on the middle
Atlantic helped the weather forecasting capacities.
I think these are critical. As Dr. Avery mentioned, the
oceans and the atmosphere intimately work together. And if we
have better weather-over-water measurements, those can aid the
forecasts. The HF radar that measure the surface currents can
be used to improve ocean circulation models. And so that is
really critical for getting the weather right.
So, absolutely, I believe that what you said is critical
for a better weather-ready nation. And I think we have pieces
there. We have HF radars in Oregon; we don't have them in
Washington. And I know that is true around the nation. There
are places that have it and places that don't. I think we need
to fill in that system. I think the system is already
integrated with modeling efforts. I think we need to sustain
and expand those efforts.
Senator Cantwell. But it is a resource issue, right, not a
technology issue? The technology exists.
Ms. Newton. Absolutely.
Senator Cantwell. It is about measuring----
Ms. Newton. Technology is being used today successfully.
Senator Cantwell. Mr. Cameron, what about this issue, the
larger issue of ocean acidification? And, you know, I know
there is an XPRIZE that has been announced to try to tackle
I mean, should we be looking to the private sector--you
have done a lot, but should we be looking to the private sector
to try to stimulate more investment here as it relates to
solving some of these problems?
Mr. Cameron. I think we can. I think the prize model is a
good model, but somebody has to put up the prize money, so, you
know, this is still going to come back down to the bottom line.
I think there are incentives that you might consider for
innovation and for partnership. A good example is the Center
for Marine Robotics at Woods Hole Oceanographic. This is a
place where we are hoping to have the oil and gas industry,
especially offshore, and other extraction industries come to a
common development place with academia, including Woods Hole
but also some other academic partners that specialize in
robotics but not necessarily ocean robotics. So, putting a
group together where money can be brought into it that doesn't
necessarily have to come from the Federal Government.
But, on the other hand, we need to stimulate the, let's
say, offshore oil and gas industry to want to come to do this
and develop common-platform technology that could be used both
for research and for commercial survey work, for example.
And this would apply, Senator Begich, to your issues in
Alaska working underneath the ice, looking forward 10, 15, 20
years to the leases on the continental shelf and so on. To be
able to do those surveys currently, we have to work under ice
that is seasonal that will continue to retreat over time.
And so this is an area where we need new oceanographic
tools, advanced robotics, abilities to communicate over long
distance under water, artificial intelligence to be able to
home those robots back to their base stations to work
autonomously, and so on.
And, you know, we believe that we can create some common
technology that can be used by industry commercially, can be
used by the science community. The science community doesn't
have the resources always to create these new toolsets, so this
is a way to do that. If there is a way that you guys can
imagine that can stimulate that so that it is, you know,
private-sector money moving into essentially the research
community, with some kind of rebate system or something like
that, that would be, I think, very helpful.
For example, I built the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER submersible in
Australia. We had an American component to the team; they
provided about a third of the sub. But the assembly and most of
the R&D work was done in Australia because Australia has a
rebate system there for pure R&D.
So entrepreneurs who want to create new technology can
create that technology and they can receive a rebate from the
government. That was significant to me, to the tune of about
half a million dollars. And on a small project like that, that
made a difference.
So that type of thing should be considered, as well. And it
might play hand-in-glove with the kinds of things we are
proposing with the Center for Marine Robotics.
Senator Cantwell. Thank you. That is very interesting.
I see my time has expired, and unfortunately I have to go.
But, Mr. Chairman, I think this is a very important issue, in
the sense of I think we need to identify the issues.
Mr. Cameron brought up this notion of the technology and
getting a consensus between the public and private sector. You
know, when we had our big Gulf oil spill, we realized we didn't
even have, you know, the way the Coast Guard was on cleanup, we
didn't even have an agreed-upon list of technology that we
really were pursuing as the next great thing. So then there was
a whole big debate about, well, what level of technology should
we be adhering to?
So I think oceans, among many things, where it suffers
because it is, you know, out of a lot of people's view sight,
is the issue of how much technology really could give us
information and data that could be so critical to our ocean,
economy, and the fishermen, to science, to safety, to all of
But it just, like so many things with the oceans, falls
between the cracks of various organizations and agencies, and
there is no prioritization of that next step in technology. So
I certainly want to work with you, and I applaud you for having
Senator Begich. Thank you, Senator Cantwell.
You know, I was talking to a group of fishermen in Alaska
on Friday and it is always the case that when it comes to the
oceans or what comes out of the oceans--for example, we debated
the Farm bill for 2\1/2\ weeks, very little about fish is in
there. But if we would take that bill and call it the fish bill
and have those same things----
Senator Begich.--it would be an incredible opportunity for
our fishermen. But it is created kind of as a secondary
thought, even though the only difference is the farm bill you
harvest from the land, fisheries harvest from the oceans. That
is the only difference.
And it is an amazing way the oceans are treated in our
overall view and economy. And kind of to your point, it is
always kind of the second-class citizen. Can you imagine if we
were to spend half as much as we spend on exploring space, if
we spent on oceans, where we would be today?
I noted your comment, when you were a young boy you saw
NASA, you saw that, but you also got intrigued by the oceans. I
mean, just imagine what that difference would be today.
Acidification wouldn't be starting to be studied; we would know
a lot about it today. Not worrying about two buoys; we would
have plenty out there.
I mean, that is how I visualize this. So your point is
well-taken. This is going to be one of many kind of discussions
we have through this committee.
Mr. Cameron, I want to follow up on that thought you had.
And maybe all of you could comment on it since you feel
How do we inspire that next generation to really--I mean,
you got inspired through a variety of reasons, and you were
intrigued by the oceans, and now you have taken it to a whole
new level. But how do we get young people to see the oceans, as
we see the Arctic, for example, as the last frontier?
I joked when I go back home that I think most people around
Washington have discovered we have an ocean in the Arctic now.
Senator Begich. And it is not because they were looking it
for it. It is because we are talking about it.
Mr. Cameron. Right.
Senator Begich. Which is amazing to me, when you think
about the size and vastness of just that component of our
And maybe others might have some thoughts on this. But, to
me, how do we really get young people to think this is an
incredible field to go into? Obviously, some of the work you
are doing now is intriguing in itself.
So I don't know if you have any comment on that, but----
Mr. Cameron. Well, thank you.
You know, obviously the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER was designed as
a science platform and it had a significant science yield, but
I think its biggest long-term effect will be what I call the
inspiration dividend. Because what I have found is that when
young kids get a chance to see this up in person and ask
members of the expedition how it was done and so on, they get
very, very excited. It really unleashes their curiosity and
And we just came here from showing the sub publicly to a
couple of hundred kids from schools around D.C., and they were
so engaged. And they came up to me, and their questions, even
the younger ones, 7, 8, 9 years old, were so perceptive. And
you could see their minds working. You know, they all want to
Mr. Cameron. And that is OK, that is good. That is when you
get them. That is when you inspire them. And that will last a
lifetime. Whether they actually become explorers or they become
engineers or scientists and so on and go to work at places like
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution or whether they are simply
trained there and go into other jobs, this is such an important
It is difficult, inspiring people into STEM-type careers
these days. As somebody who works in media myself, even when I
am making a fictional film like ``Avatar,'' I put in a
sympathetic character who is a scientist. And my thinking there
is to show an aspirational role model for kids and high school
students, even college students; say, oh, scientists aren't
stuffy, they are not some kind of strange elite, they are not
Senator Begich. They can be cool.
Mr. Cameron. They can be cool. Exactly.
Mr. Cameron. That is absolutely critical.
And so it is partly how kids perceive that role model and
partly how they perceive themselves and feel empowered to do
And I think the idea of reinforcing to them through media
and the messaging they get through education that exploration
is not done. Even if that is in the abstract of exploration as
a metaphor, if you are, you know, looking through a microscope
or you are in a lab someplace. But there is so much to know and
So capturing and bottling that curiosity early on is
critical for us in the science community and in the educational
Senator Begich. Let me ask Dr. Avery, you mentioned STEM in
your testimony. One of the things that I know we are looking
at, obviously, is the budget for 2014. And the President has
cut out the ocean science education in NOAA, which, of course,
we are very--as you can imagine, the Oceans Subcommittee is
concerned about the impact of that.
But when you look at the data points of where we are
internationally when it comes to STEM education--science,
technology, engineering, and math--we are so far down on the
scale of where we could be. And as I was hearing the
description of some of the equipment utilized in the facility
going to the bottom of the ocean, all that new technology, it
seems like this is a huge opportunity for us.
But give me your thoughts. I mean, honestly, I am concerned
about some of these cuts and what they may impact, marine
science in the future. Because STEM is not something you do in
12th grade. It is an educational process throughout your years
of K through 12, that when you get to 12th grade, you might be
doing not only a high school course but a college course in
conjuction, together, to become that next scientists or marine
biologist or whatever it might be.
What can we do here, I guess, what should be our role to
ensure that this is not lost in the long picture of our budget
fights that we have around here?
There we go. Is it not working?
Like I said, technology. We need----
Ms. Avery. This is technology at work here.
Senator Begich. Yes. If it wasn't working, I would call my
11-year-old and he would fix it like that.
Ms. Avery. Fix it like that, yes.
No, thank you, Senator Begich.
I think that, you know, when you look at STEM careers and
STEM in general, there is the inspirational component at a very
young age. You know, young kids are really excited about
science. They are excited about their natural world. They can
see things, they can touch things.
And we have, you know, most of our institutions, I am sure,
around here have outreach programs where children are just so
much fun to work with. And our scientists love engaging with
them. Our scientists work on science fair projects. There is a
real sort of mentorship role there that I think one should not
underestimate in terms of enhancing the STEM pipeline.
But you are right; you have to constantly reinforce this.
You know, you start it at the younger age, but it has to be
throughout that whole K through 12 system and then through the
college experience, as well. So that whole pipeline is really
And I guess I would say, and I think a number of us in the
scientific community are concerned a little bit about what has
been proposed in terms of eliminating some of these STEM
programs from the mission agencies, in particular, and
consolidating certain parts of that educational pipeline in
certain parts of the agency.
Because I think that, in general, a lot of us in research
and science organizations have been spending a lot of time
really taking a look at what we can do, how we can be engaged.
And when you take that away from us, I worry about a little
crack in that pipeline.
These are long-term issues that you are looking at. They
are hard issues to deal with. But, yes, I would be concerned.
Senator Begich. Do you--and I don't know the answer to
this, and that is: Is there a research or document or
information that is available that you utilize to talk about--
one of the things that I have done a couple times is had
hearings and discussions on the economics of our oceans.
Ms. Avery. Yes.
Senator Begich. Because I think people, we talk about the
environment of our ocean, which is important, but there is a
whole piece to this--and I think of Ed's work and, you know,
all the work there.
The economics of oceans are so impactful, but there is very
little data that you could say--you know, I could tell you all
about, you know, wheat and the impact. I can tell you all about
oil and gas. I can tell you about copper. But when it comes to
the oceans, we can tell you a segment of it, fisheries to a
certain extent, but all the science and all the other pieces
that come from it and what that means.
Is there really reliable or enough data out there that we
can point to and say, this is the kind of investment we need to
And, Mr. Cameron, I appreciate your words at the end of
your opening comments, because it is an investment. It is not
an expenditure, it is an investment.
Ms. Avery. Yes.
Senator Begich. Because if you do this right, the
multiplier effect may be in science, may be in better
understanding of the oceans for our own health, may be better
understanding for extraction, as we are dealing with in the
Do you think that--and maybe it is just me not seeing all
the information. It just seems like that is a gap, the economic
understanding of our oceans. I don't know, Dr. Avery and Ed and
others may want to comment on this.
Ms. Avery. Sure. I think there is a really good strategy,
as we look at the numbers of ocean ecosystem services that the
ocean provides us, how you actually quantify that in terms of
an economic value. And there have been studies that have looked
at it. There has been some work done in terms of looking at the
recreation and tourism industry, on the economic value of that.
Certainly, the fisheries industry is another one, the
aquaculture industry that derives from that.
It is hard to put a price tag on every second breath you
Ms. Avery.--it should be a pretty high price, actually.
Senator Begich. It is half the value.
Ms. Avery. There is some extra value there.
Ms. Avery. But I think that, you know, one can always look
at a need for more data. I think we have had a discussion
amongst ourselves just recently about how this committee might
take a moment to think more globally, more about what is the
investment that has been made in the ocean, what is the return
on that of ocean, how do you get to a certain value, both
economically and some of the intrinsic values of the ocean. It
certainly would be a very good discussion to have.
Do we have good data? We always could have more, you know.
Senator Begich. From a scientist----
Ms. Avery. You never ask a scientist----
Senator Begich. I know, I know.
Ms. Avery.--do you need more data? We will say we need more
Senator Begich. I know. I actually, when I started to say
that, I already----
Ms. Avery. The wrong person to ask.
Senator Begich. I knew I was going to open that up to a
scientist and say we have enough.
Ms. Avery. Yes.
Senator Begich. There is never enough.
Others who have maybe a comment on that?
Mr. Cameron. I would comment briefly on that if----
Senator Begich. Sure. And then I will go to Dr. Newton.
Mr. Cameron. I think you identified a specific gap, and it
also reflects a perceptual gap, as well. Because, certainly, in
government and the public's attention, we think of ocean
problems in terms of specifics, whether it is shark finning or
fishing nets or oil spills and that sort of thing, and we
always picture the ocean.
And that, in a way, allows all the states that don't have
coastlines to just kind of shrug off the concern, when, in
fact, what we need to do is look at major economic drivers,
whether it is food prices and that sort of thing because crop
yields are down because ocean precipitation is not what it was
because ocean currents have changed because the heat flux in
the ocean has changed as climate changes cause these effects.
We need to think of the ocean as this engine that is
actually driving back into the economy and creating big
fluctuations in the bottom line, you know, billions of dollars,
vast multiples of the amount of money it takes us to study the
ocean and understand it.
So I think it is this perceptual gap that needs to be
closed, both, I think, in the public and amongst policymakers.
It is a question of looking at all of these, let's say, you
know, economic problems through a lens of ocean.'' And that
might be something that this forum is best to address.
Senator Begich. Very good. Thank you.
Let me go to Dr. Newton, then I will go to Ed. And I
apologize; they have indicated that we have vote that has
started, and I don't want to--but this is interesting and one
that we are going to continue on.
But Dr. Newton?
Ms. Newton. Thank you. I just wanted to agree with the
issue of perception that Mr. Cameron brought up. I think in
terms of--and you said it yourself, Chairman Begich, that the
exploration and the observation of the ocean pales in
comparison to space. And so, when you were talking about how to
inspire kids, I think if there is more funding directed toward
ocean exploration, there will be more activity around that.
And I can tell you that, from my experience in academia,
there is a perceived notion of lack of opportunity in ocean-
related jobs. But one of the things I am very proud about with
the Ocean Observing System is there are jobs to maintain that,
to provide the data for that.
There is a whole host--not everybody is going to be a Ph.D.
scientist at an academic university, but this system invests in
people, and the more people looking at the oceans and having
jobs in the oceans, the more kids will be inspired.
And the second thing, really quickly, is that these systems
provide near-real-time data over the Web. And so, classrooms--
it is one thing to teach students about phytoplankton blooms,
and it is another thing for them to say, go on to your computer
and look at this station and this station and this station and
tell me if the bloom is happening. People get excited. So they
can explore right there in their classroom.
Senator Begich. And with kids today, it is more valuable,
that--when I was growing up, you could do it in the book and it
Ms. Newton. Right.
Senator Begich. But today kids have a much higher demand of
Ms. Newton. Right.
Senator Begich. It is very interesting.
Ed, if you have any--because you are on top of the oceans,
Captain Page. I am on top. I am staying there.
Senator Begich. But they are connected. Without you on top,
without them on the bottom, nothing works, you know.
Captain Page. Right.
Senator Begich. So any thought, Ed, you have on this? And
then I apologize----
Captain Page. I think you have a good point there that is
worth exploring further--more data----
Captain Page.--is this holistic approach which is not taken
right now as far as the value of the ocean, if it is
And certainly in Alaska, we know for sure that Kivalina
would not exist if there wasn't an ocean means of transporting
those raw materials around the world, or Valdez would not exist
if he didn't have a means of shipping it by vessel. It would be
just too expensive to ship it out. Or the fishing wouldn't
exist, or very nominally. We would have to wait until they came
to our shores or into our rivers, which they don't do all the
And so, if you start looking at if you had to do everything
by another means of transportation, every other means of
transportation is more expensive than going via the ocean. It
is the most efficient way of moving goods. If you just displace
that and said, we can't do that, it is truck or plane or train,
suddenly you realize the economic value of just the
All those containers in L.A.-Long Beach when I was captain
of the port, those containers would have wrapped the world
several times over in 1 year, just coming to L.A.-Long Beach.
If you didn't have the ships to do that, how could you possibly
engage in international commerce? And it would change our whole
But I don't think people understand that, because if we
look at the value of fishery, we are all independent, but we
never take them all together----
Senator Begich. In a holistic way.
Captain Page.--cumulative. So I think is a good perspective
that maybe would open some people's eyes.
Senator Begich. Well, let me again thank you. I have
additional questions, but, because of time, I will need to
submit them for the record.
You know, to me, we sometimes undervalue our oceans or our
lack of understanding. Or, as I described on the farm bill, if
this was the fish bill--I mean, I talk to fishermen all the
time, and I say, ``Imagine this,'' and I give them the
description of the Farm bill but I just substitute ``farm''
with ``fish,'' and they are very excited, because the amount of
concentration and research and activity around it and
investment could be so substantial to their long-term future.
And as we struggle to deal with fisheries as one element of our
oceans to create sustainability, it is multifaceted.
And you are right; when you are living in Kansas, the
oceans are, you know, somewhere over there. What we have to do
is connect it, so when someone is sitting in a small town in
Kansas and they think about the oceans, they want to be that
oceanographer or they want to be that scientist or that boat
captain or they want to be out on that rig making sure it is
done the right way.
And that is the trick here. And this committee is focused
on trying to elevate the issues of our oceans at a much
different level than has been done in the past and equalize it.
And so your thoughts today are helpful, your ideas are
helpful. And I am sure, as time progresses here, we will be
more in contact.
And, obviously, up in Woods Hole, I have been there a
couple times and always will be back. I think it is amazing
because of your partnerships you have around the globe and in
And it is always a pleasure to see all of you so adamant
about the oceans. So thank you very much for being here.
The record will stay open for 10 business days for any
additional questions that members who were not here, or here,
may have questions they want to submit to you.
But, again, thank you very much.
At this time, the hearing is adjourned. Thank you.
[Whereupon, at 4:08 p.m., the hearing was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Prepared Statement of Hon. John Thune, U.S. Senator from South Dakota
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing. This hearing
exemplifies the spirit of adventure and exploration that has made this
country what it is today--and indeed, this same spirit has defined our
From the Lewis and Clark expedition that explored the Dakota
territory, including the important scientific observations they made as
they traveled up the Missouri River, to more recent trips to the
surface of Mars and the bottom of the ocean, this spirit of exploration
is important in fostering a continued interest in science and the world
outside our everyday lives.
Mr. Cameron, you were the first person to return to the ocean's
deepest point in the Mariana Trench since 1960--we appreciate you being
here to discuss that exploration and the amazing vessel in which you
made the dive, as well as your partnership with the Woods Hole
Oceanographic Institution. Dr. Avery, I am interested in learning more
about the partnerships that the Institution has forged with industry to
spur innovation in marine robotics and other fields. I appreciated the
opportunity to meet with both of you; as we discussed, I think that
public-private partnership and other innovative funding models are
especially relevant in today's budget environment.
This is particularly true when you consider that data from our
oceans and coasts is important for protecting lives and property at sea
and across the country. For example, ocean observing systems provide
data to inform long-term drought forecasts, which the National
Integrated Drought Information System uses to provide early warnings of
drought conditions on a regional scale. These forecasts and data
products, in turn, help to support the livelihoods of our Nation's
I also want to welcome our other witnesses. Dr. Newton, we
appreciate your testimony about the integrated ocean observing system
as one example of leveraging non-federal assets to improve data
collection and dissemination. Mr. Page, thank you for traveling all the
way from the ``Last Frontier'' to discuss the ways that regional ocean
observing assets have supported marine transportation in and around the
State of Alaska.
Again, I thank all the witnesses for their testimony about ongoing
research activities and how we can better leverage public and private
sector resources when it comes to oceanic monitoring and exploration.
Prepared Statement of Dr. Michael Heithaus, Associate Dean, College of
Arts and Sciences, Florida International University, Aquarious Reef
Base and Partnerships in Ocean Observations
Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony on behalf of
Florida International University and our efforts to build partnerships
to ensure that NOAA's Aquarius Reef Base continues to address national
and global priorities for marine exploration, research, natural
resource management and STEM education. The Aquarius facility is a key
resource for developing tools to conserve marine resources and to
support the communities that depend upon them, as well as for inspiring
millions of Americans to take leadership in science and the
Florida International University, a Carnegie community engaged
university, is a young and rapidly expanding public research
institution. FIU has 50,000 students and is the largest Hispanic
Serving Institution in the Nation and among the ten largest
universities nationwide. FIU is internationally known for its work in
marine biology and coastal marine sciences. FIU is a significant
research partner with NOAA: NOAA's national Hurricane Center is located
on the FIU campus and FIU is a member of NOAA's Cooperative Institute
for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS). Recently, FIU took over
operations and maintenance of NOAA's Aquarius Reef Base, the world's
only underwater marine laboratory and habitat available for use to
support ocean exploration, research and STEM education.
In addition to graduate and undergraduate education, FIU is deeply
engaged with K-12 and community education and outreach. Its dedication
to improving K-12 education is highlighted by its newly formed STEM
Transformation Institute and environmental education programs.
National Needs for Ocean Science and Education
Coastal marine habitats such as coral reefs, seagrass beds and
mangroves support the highest marine biodiversity in the world. More
than 500 million people worldwide depend upon them for food
(fisheries), storm protection, jobs and recreation. Their resources and
services are worth an estimated 375 billion dollars each year to the
global economy, yet they cover less than one percent of the Earth's
surface. There is an urgent need to develop scientifically based tools
for conserving these habitats and where feasible restoring the
ecosystem services they deliver.to millions of people around the world.
While the Deepwater Horizon Incident highlighted the interconnectedness
and susceptibility of marine ecosystems to human activities, global
threats including climate change and ocean acidification have the
potential to cause even more wide-spread and profound damage. Coral
reefs and other coastal ecosystems that provide huge economic benefits
are particularly susceptible to climate change and other human caused
stresses. The next decade will be pivotal in whether society can
successfully chart a path to a sustainable ocean future with thriving
ecosystems and coastal human communities.
Overcoming the threats facing ocean ecosystems while ensuring that
human needs for ocean resources are met requires a multidisciplinary
approach that involves coastal ocean observing systems to monitor
ecosystems, in-ocean experiments to understand the nature of threats
and to develop solutions, development on new technologies for ocean
observing and underwater industrial activities, high-value public
outreach to communicate the importance of ocean ecosystems and
solutions to threats to their health, and K-12 education programs and
teacher development to inspire the next generation of STEM
professionals and marine scientists.
How do we move forward to ensure that we, as a country, are able to
accomplish this approach? The answer lies in diverse partnerships,
innovative technology, and human exploration and imagination.
Aquarius Reef Base
The Aquarius is the only operating undersea laboratory, 43 feet
long by 9 feet in diameter that houses six aquanauts on the ocean floor
60 feet below the surface for 10-31 days at a time. The habitat, the
world's only operational marine habitat dedicated to science and
education, is a national treasure owned by NOAA. It has been sited in
the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary off Key Largo for 20 years and has
proven to be instrumental in the advancement of oceanic research,
engaging America's future leaders through ocean-inspired learning, and
serving as a catalyst for development of the next generation of marine
and extra planetary explorers and exploration technologies. Research at
Aquarius has directly guided the stewardship of not just the Florida
Keys National marine Sanctuary, but other coral reef ecosystems both in
the U.S. and worldwide.
An ocean observatory
Aquarius provides an ideal platform for long-term monitoring of
coastal oceans and coral reefs. It will serve as a permanent station,
providing real-time and long-term data on the marine environment, which
will serve as an early-warning system for impacts to ocean ecosystems
both locally and globally. Because it can provide stable power, has a
scalable IT infrastructure that facilitates innovative sensor
deployment, utilizes the latest industry communication technology that
offers a reliable means to transmit data and video, and is the only
manned ocean observing platform that allows for data ground-truthing
and sensor design and testing Aquarius will become a world-class ocean
observation platform that will facilitate monitoring and
experimentation on, among other issues, the impacts of ocean
acidification on coral reefs, seagrass meadows and a diverse array of
ocean organisms. The position of Aquarius makes it particularly well-
suited for studies of ocean acidification because it sits between
seagrass meadows, which remove CO2 that causes
acidification, and the coral reefs and open ocean that will be most
impacted. The data generated by Aquarius will be critical for guiding
policy and conservation management to preserve these critical
ecosystems and potentially mitigate acidification worldwide.
Finally, Aquarius Reef Base is, quite simply, the best platform for
observing the condition of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
(FKNMS). The National Marine Sanctuaries Act was intended to identify,
designate, and comprehensively manage marine areas of national
significance. National marine sanctuaries are established for the
public's long-term benefit, use, and enjoyment. As home to the largest
continental coral reef ecosystem in the U.S., upon which the economy of
south Florida is based, the FKNMS was designated. Sanctuary status is
designed, among other things, to:
Enhance resource protection through comprehensive and
coordinated conservation and ecosystem management that
complements existing regulatory authorities.
Support, promote, and coordinate scientific research on, and
monitoring of, the marine resources of the Florida Keys to
improve management decision-making
Enhance public awareness, understanding, and the wise use of
the marine environment through public interpretive,
educational, and recreational programs.
Aquarius is superbly enabled to facilitate all of these goals of
the FKNMS--with a special emphasis on the unique interpretive and
educational programs it allows. A manned presence on the sea floor--and
the ability of citizens to share in that experience through traditional
media outlets as well as live over the internet, ignites the
imaginations of future scientists and educators like nothing else!
Because of its well-studied and strategic location, highly-trained
and competent staff, land-based and boat-based support infrastructure,
stable power supply and climate-controlled conditions, Aquarius
provides the ideal location for the deployment, development and testing
of new technologies. This is especially true for work that requires a
human presence, since inventors, engineers and technicians can have
their hands on their technology 24 hours a day for as long as a month
during critical R&D stages. And, these same capabilities make Aquarius
the ideal place to compare competing technologies in a test-bed
STEM education: inspiring the next generation
Because of its ability to capture the imagination of an entire
country and world through the eyes of people living under the sea,
Aquarius can play an important role in ensuring American
competitiveness for generations to come. Equipped with the ability to
send live video from the habitat and surrounding waters to schools,
universities, aquariums, and museums around the country, Aquarius can
reach millions of students and citizens every year while actual
scientific and training missions are underway. They can watch science
while it is happening and experience it through the eyes of scientists,
students, and teachers living and working underwater! They can even
interact with the aquanauts! Watching people living and exploring the
ocean captivates and inspires people, especially young students, in
ways that remote sensing cannot. The personal connection to ocean
exploration, coupled with high-quality curriculum, will inspire a
generation of students and motivate understanding, achievement and
Funding Aquarius: a model of Public-Private Partnerships
Florida International University took over operation of Aquarius
Reef Base in 2013 and has undertaken a transformation of its business
model. Aquarius is transitioning to being supported by a blend of
partnerships with private industry, user fees, private philanthropic
donations, and state and Federal research and education grants. This
new business model will ensure that Aquarius will be available and
providing significant benefits to American taxpayers for years to come
while lessening the tax dollars invested in its continuation. FIU is
partnering with the Aquarius Foundation, a not for profit dedicated to
the support of the Aquarius project.
There has been a public outpouring of support for Aquarius when
NOAA signaled a desire to close the lab. One of the first groups to
step in in to support was the Diver's Alert Network (DAN). Stephen
Frink, of DAN, agreed to serve on the board of the Aquarius
Foundation--which formed to save Aquarius. DAN has accepted donations
for Aquarius and sponsored an end-of mission fundraising event after a
mission led by Dr. Sylvia Earle, who also sits on the board of Aquarius
Since FIU took over the operation of Aquarius Reef Base, we have
been approached by companies interested in testing equipment for the
oceanographic, maritime industry, oils and gas exploration, extraction
and delivery, and aerospace applications. We have also had contact with
private aerospace companies--as well as NASA--since Aquarius provides
the only facility of its kind for training astronauts in an extreme,
high-stakes, environment. We also have received considerable interest
from media companies and are developing partnerships with the local
dive operators in the Florida Keys to enhance their business while
providing funding for Aquarius.
Recognizing its incredible value for marine sciences and education,
we have begun to build important partnerships with groups and
individuals interested in helping provide financial support for FIU and
Aquarius. One individual has pledged $1.25 million, and assistance
raising further funds, pending a long-term agreement with NOAA on the
future of the base. We have been partnering with Edeavorist.org to
assist with the optimization of this crowd funding platform, which will
feature Aquarius's Teacher-Under-the-Sea program for the platform's
launch in July 2013. Also, FIU and Guy Harvey Foundation are working on
a partnership to enhance marine education for K-12 students.
A Need for Continued Federal Support
Key, however, to realizing the potential of the growing public
private partnerships for operating Aquarius is continued support from
the Federal Government. The investment need not be considerable. FIU
and its private partners needs NOAA to agree to a three-year plan that
will transition the base from its previous position of complete Federal
support to the new mix of industry, governmental and philanthropic
support. This three-year plan must deal with issues remaining about the
liability for operation and eventual decommissioning of the facility.
Written Testimony from Julie Thomas, President, The IOOS Association
Chairman Begich, Ranking Member Rubio, and members of the
I am writing on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Integrated
Ocean Observing System (IOOS) Association to urge reauthorize the
Integrated Coastal Ocean Observing Act of 2009'' (ICOOS Act). The IOOS
Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the
Nation's ability to observe our oceans, coasts and Great Lakes and to
making that information available to a wide variety of users in a
timely manner. The ICOOS Act provides the legal and institutional
framework for the federal-regional partnership that comprises the
Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). Reauthorization of the Act
will ensure this capability is sustained and enhanced.
Our nation's health, prosperity and security are directly linked to
the Nation's oceans, coasts and Great Lakes. Over 50 percent of our
nation's residents live in coastal areas, and the ocean and Great Lakes
economies contribute more than $223 billion to the Gross Domestic
Product and support in excess of 2.6 million jobs.\1\ These trends are
expected to grow in the future.
\1\ NOAA. 2013. National Coastal Population Report. Population
Trends from 1970 to 2020.
The U.S. IOOS provides a unique national capability that is
necessary to meet our nation's current and future needs for sustained
ocean observations and products. Sustained observations from buoys,
gliders, shore stations and other platforms are integrated, analyzed
and transformed into actionable information through models and data
management systems. Data and information from U.S. IOOS aids:
the safe passage of large, ocean-going tankers to enter U.S.
the U.S. Coast Guard in their search and rescue efforts by
providing, in real time, information on the speed and direction
of ocean currents;
shellfish growers in the Pacific Northwest so they can
protect young larvae from lethal, acidic ocean water masses;
emergency managers preparing for extreme events such as
hurricanes by providing them information related to storm
resource managers concerned with how ocean conditions affect
living marine resources, hypoxia and harmful algal blooms.
The Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) is a partnership
between 17 Federal agencies and a network of 11 regional systems that
provide services to the entire coastline of the U.S., including the
Great Lakes. The ICOOS Act provides the framework for building a
``system of systems'' that links and enhances our existing observing
capacity. It is an innovative approach for government, one that relies
on partnerships to be cost-effective and responsive. And, it is
Sometimes called the ocean analog of the National Weather Service,
IOOS is a novel approach to addressing the critical gaps in the
Nation's ocean, coasts and Great Lake observing systems. It brings
together national and regional observing systems to address critical
societal needs, fill gaps and harness innovation for system improvement
IOOS is good government. One of the goals of IOOS is to create a
single system that can serve multiple national and regional missions.
Instead of each mission agency or regional program creating its own
issue-specific ocean and coastal observing system, IOOS strives to be
one system that can be used by many agencies, programs and individuals.
For example, real-time information on the speed and direction of
surface currents is used by the U.S. Coast Guard in search and rescue
operations, by fisheries managers to model the transport of fish
larvae, by regional scientists to forecast harmful algal blooms and by
public health officials to understand beach water quality. Measure
once, use multiple times is the IOOS mantra.
The IOOS data management system is based on standards and protocols
and allows for the seamless integration of data between the regional
systems and the Federal agencies. Data from regional systems are now
available to Federal agencies and have proven to be extremely valuable.
Today, over 50 percent of the data provide to the Global
Telecommunication System by NOAA's National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) now
comes from non-federal sources, most of which is directly attributable
the IOOS data management system and the work being done and supported
by the Regional Associations.
IOOS Is Making a Difference
Examples of how IOOS is making a difference are numerous. Here are
a few highlights of the program's accomplishments over the last ten
Superstorm Sandy. During this extreme event, the marine
transportation industry in the New York/New Jersey area made
preparations based on forecast products derived from IOOS
observations. In the Port of New York and New Jersey, all
vessels were moved from anchorages in the Harbor. Over 6,700
containers--valued at approximately $1 Billion \2\--were
diverted from the New York/New Jersey area to Virginia.
\2\ Marine Technology Society. 2012 TechSurge Event.
Deepwater Horizon Spill. During the response effort
following the 2010 oil spill, the Unified Area Command was able
to access data and model output from universities, state
agencies and private companies, increasing their understanding
of the ocean conditions affecting the path of the oil. This was
the first time that Federal responders had routine access to
non-federal information and was enabled by the protocols
developed by the IOOS data management system.
Much of the oil from the spill remained subsurface where, despite
technological advances, we still lacked the ability to readily
monitor the flow of oil. IOOS, through its regional network,
accessed several underwater gliders from around the country and
redeployed them in the gulf to assist with subsurface
monitoring efforts. This unique and flexible capability is one
of the hallmarks of the IOOS system.
Search and Rescue. IOOS supported the development of the
``National Surface Current Mapping Plan'' that calls for a
network of shore-based radars to detect surface currents in
real time. While only a quarter of the national plan has been
built to date, it is proving to be a powerful tool. Real-time
information from the network feeds directly to the U.S. Coast
Guard for use in search and rescue efforts. The Coast Guard
estimates that the information can reduce their search areas by
two-thirds, thereby greatly increasing the chances of safe
IOOS Leads to Innovative Solutions
In tight fiscal times, IOOS provides a pathway for bringing forward
new solutions to challenges faced in sustainably using and managing our
nation's oceans, coasts and Great Lakes, and will play an ever-
increasing role in meeting our nation's need for coastal ocean data and
information. IOOS is a flexible system that can facilitate the
transition from research and development to operations. IOOS's
capability to move vital observing assets from research institutions
into operations in support of Federal response missions has been
demonstrated, and will continue to be deployed to address unexpected
events around the country. Regional observations are efficiently
filling critical gaps not currently being met by our Federal partners.
IOOS is harnessing the flexibility and innovation of private and
academic research and development capability.
The networked capability represented by IOOS works, and has
repeatedly demonstrated its value. In short, IOOS is unique; IOOS is
efficient; and IOOS is the future.
Specific comments on reauthorization
The ICOOS Act of 2009 provides the solid foundation for U.S. IOOS
that allows for innovation, leveraging of resources, and the creation
of partnerships and for the standards and protocols that allow for
seamless transition of data and information between the regional and
We are extremely concerned about the authorization levels for the
program and its ability to meet societal needs or to respond to the
next hurricane, severe flooding, storm surge or oil spill. The regional
IOOS systems have been operating for over a decade and are in need of
repairs and upgrades. Measured, reasonable growth ensures that assets
would not be removed from the water, the quality of data would not be
deteriorate because of delayed maintenance and upgrades, and
information products would not become outdated without adequate staff
to ensure quality.
The buoy network in the Northeast U.S. illustrates the impact of
such delayed maintenance. The array has successfully operated for over
ten years, reliably transmitting hourly data to users dependent on that
information. However, maintenance and repair trips have been reduced
from twice a year to just once a year. Buoys that have withstood
extreme waves and winds are now breaking free. Data modems that
transmit the data in real time are failing, causing great concern to
many including scientists charged with providing forecasts of red
tides, the harmful algae that is so toxic to clams and other shellfish.
The Northeast system needs to be repaired and upgraded so that it can
be fully functional when the next hurricane or nor'easter happens. This
regional system is not the only one that needs such repairs and
upgrades. The other ten regional IOOS systems are also facing similar
We encourage the Committee to use the Congressionally-mandated
``Independent Cost Estimate (ICE) for U.S. IOOS'' \3\ as a resource for
determining the authorization levels to include in the ICOOS
Reauthorization Act. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory completed the
cost estimate in 2012 based on regional and Federal plans for
addressing critical societal needs. The ICE estimates that the IOOS
system would cost $591 million per year once it is fully built ($534
million for the regional systems, $57 million for the central functions
of the U.S. IOOS Program Office). Full build out of the system would
take 10 years to achieve.
\3\ Interagency Ocean Observing Committee. 2012. Independent Cost
Estimate for the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System. Prepared by
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Earth Science and Technology
A phased approach for building the system over the next five years
would allow for reasonable and measured growth of the program. The
following chart is based on the ICE, beginning with the President's
Budget Request for IOOS in the Fiscal Year 2014.
Fiscal Year Regional Line National Line Total
2014 $34.5 m $ 6.5m $ 41 m
2015 $ 39 m $ 10 m $ 49 m
2016 $ 44 m $ 15 m $ 59 m
2017 $ 55m $ 20 m $ 75 m
2018 $ 66 m $ 25 m $ 91 m
The ICOOS Act must allow for the reasonable and justifiable growth
of the program. The authorization level should be commensurate with the
critical importance of IOOS to jobs and the economy, safety and quality
Clarifying the role of the regions. The Act refers to the regional
IOOS partners as ``Regional Information Coordinating Entities'' and
notes that this includes the existing Regional Associations, the term
that is widely used for the regional IOOS systems. The wording is
confusing and has raised questions as to whether the Regional
Associations are the RICEs or if there is a difference between the
regional coordinating entities and the Regional Associations. The
existing regional framework of IOOS welcomes the participation by all
concerned parties, allows for open competition to serve regions every
five years and actively encourages the involvement of data providers.
This framework is based on consideration of marine ecosystems,
geography, and political and economic issues. The delineations are
similar to many other regional approaches adopted by Federal agencies.
Existing Regional Associations foster integration and partnerships
across the regions, and we encourage the use of the term Regional
Associations in the Act.
Interagency Financing. IOOS is an interagency program intended to
foster partnerships among Federal agencies and regional partnerships.
The transfer of funds among agencies is an important part of this
partnership. Unfortunately, agency lawyers have found that the existing
language in the Act is not sufficient to allow to enable efficient
transfer of funds between Federal agency partners.
Certification. The Act requires that the Regional Associations be
certified to ensure regional systems have the capacity to fulfill their
obligations. In addition, data management certification standards are
to be developed to ensure the quality of IOOS data. The IOOS Program
Office has been working on these requirements over the last five years
and is expected to soon release a draft of the certification standards
for public comment. We understand that NOAA is proposing to separate
the regional association certification standards and the data quality
certification standards in their proposed rule since the two sets of
standards are very different. We support that approach, and it should
be adopted in the ICOOS Act.
Liability. The ICOOS Act currently extends liability coverage to
the regions operating. This is a critical issues for the program,
allowing IOOS to serve data and, information in real time. NOAA lawyers
are proposing to limit this coverage to just 3 regional employees.
Liability coverage should not be predetermined by an arbitrary number
but rather by the circumstances of the situation. The Act should
clarify this provision.
Thank you for your consideration of these comments. Please let us
know if you have questions or require additional information.
c/o University of California, San Diego,
Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Port Townsend Marine Science Center
Port Towsend, WA, June 18, 2013
Dear Chairman Begich, Ranking Member Rubio, and members of the
I am writing to support the re-authorization of the Integrated
Coastal and Ocean Observing System (ICOOS) Act and the Federal Ocean
Acidification Research and Monitoring (FOARAM) Act. These were recently
discussed at a hearing called ``Deep Sea Challenge: Innovative
Partnerships in Ocean Observation'' held before the U.S. Senate
Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Subcommittee on
Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard on June 11, 2013.
At this time of rapid climate change and ocean acidification, both
of these Acts enable monitoring and collection of data essential to
evaluate and respond to changes in ocean systems. This data informs
everything from meteorology to fisheries, shellfish growing to modeling
of changes in climate and sea level. Through these Acts, resource
managers and scientists will have near real-time data essential to
understanding ocean acidification, drivers and effects.
Because of the ICOOS Act, IOOS and NANOOS, its regional entity in
the Pacific NW, have been able to bring together regional Federal and
non-federal partners to create a system of observing platforms, data
delivery, modeling, and outreach that leverages existing assets, non-
federal investments, and communities of practice. Of special note,
NANOOS has reached out to engage the public in understanding the value
of ongoing ocean observation. Because of the FOARAM Act, NOAA's OAP has
been able to further assessment of ocean acidification nation-wide. The
OAP has been adept at working with the IOOS regional associations, such
as NANOOS, to maximize their investment.
Re-authorization of these two Acts will serve our nation's economy,
environmental quality, and quality of life. Please lend your full
support to these critical efforts.
Port Townsend Marine Science Center.
Puget Sound Partnership
Takoma, WA, June 18, 2013
Hon. Mark Begich,
Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard,
Committee on Commerce,
United States Senate,
Hon. Marco Rubio,
Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard,
Committee on Commerce,
United States Senate,
Re: Re-authorization of the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observing
System Act and the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and
Dear Chairman Begich and Ranking Member Rubio:
Thank you for holding the recent hearing regarding the ``Deep Sea
Challenge: Innovative Partnerships in Ocean Observation.'' As the Chair
of the Puget Sound Partnership Leadership Council, I am writing in
strong support for the re-authorization of the Integrated Coastal and
Ocean Observing System (ICOOS) Act and the Federal Ocean Acidification
Research and Monitoring (FOARAM) Act. Both of these Acts support
monitoring and assessment of coastal ocean and inland waters that are
needed globally, and that are essential in managing the effectiveness
of ecosystem recovery efforts in Washington State's Puget Sound.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's approved Comprehensive
Conservation and Management Plan for Puget Sound, called the Action
Agenda, has prioritized three strategic initiatives for restoring water
quality: restoration and protection of habitat, recovery of shellfish
beds and abating pollution from stormwater runoff. Scientific
monitoring of the effectiveness of the strategies employed is critical
for adaptively managing recovery work and ensuring efficient use of
public and private investments.
Through the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program (OAP), the U.S.
Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), its regional association, the
Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NANOOS) and
others, these Acts result in near real time data shared with affected
parties (e.g., shellfish growers, tribes, and landowners) and
scientific quality data for researchers and agencies. In Puget Sound,
over six marine water profiling monitoring buoys are providing data
that directly support Sections 303(d) and 305(b) of the Clean Water
Act. These data feed the environmental indicators and 2020 recovery
targets that allow our partners to assess ocean acidification, salmon
recovery, dissolved oxygen and other environmental concerns.
Washington State is poised to implement the recommended actions
from Governor Gregoire's Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification. In
doing so, our state recognizes the value that Federal investments in
IOOS, NANOOS, and NOAA's OAP have for our ability to implement these
recommendations. Because of the ICOOS Act, IOOS/NANOOS have been able
to bring together regional Federal and non-federal partners to create a
system of observing platforms, data delivery, modeling, and outreach
that leverages existing assets and non-federal investments.
Re-authorization of the ICOOS Act and FOARAM Act will serve our
nation well by providing high quality and timely data that guides
economic decisions and benefits the environment and our quality of
life. I respectfully request your leadership in re-authorizing these
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
Leadership Council Chair.
cc: The Honorable Maria Cantwell, U.S. Senate
Jan Newton, Ph.D., University of Washington
Response to Written Questions Submitted by Hon. Amy Klobuchar to
Dr. Susan K. Avery
Discover of New Medicines
Question 1. The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota is known for pioneering
research to discover new treatments and medicines. You mentioned that
when it comes to exploration of the ocean we have untapped potential,
which includes new medicines. What technology is currently being used
to collect data for discovery of new medicines when it comes to ocean
Answer. Scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution explores
microbial chemical ecology and the interplay of applications in
biomedicine to discover chemotherapies for human betterment. One
specific research project area has to do with microbially-derived
molecules that could aid in the problem of antibiotic resistant
Antibiotics have been one of the greatest contributions to human
health, however, the discovery of new antibiotics has not kept pace
with the growing threat of bacterial antibiotic resistance. With the
lack of new antibiotics in the drug discovery pipeline, especially for
Gram-negative infections, a new strategy needs to be implemented to
both preserve the clinical effectiveness of existing antibiotics and
block the progression of antibiotic resistance. Multidrug transporters
have been determined to be a key target in these efforts.
The search for molecules of pharmacological significance to reverse
drug resistance has benefited enormously from understanding the natural
history of chemical interactions among marine microorganisms. For
instance, some recent findings in have led scientists to suspect that
microbes in certain marine habitats produce diverse molecules that
inhibit these multidrug transporters of various types.
A powerful aspect of the WHOI culture collection is that it has a
high degree of associated phylogenetic and ecological metadata that can
be mined. For example, nearly all of our cultures have been
characterized by small-subunit Ribosomal RNA gene sequence (a gene
common to all cellular life that can be used as a type of
identification ``barcode''). In addition, copious metadata are obtained
during collection of our isolates, including GPS coordinates, salinity,
temperature, depth, nutrients, oxygen saturation, light regime and so
on. The substrate or host information that the microbes were cultivated
from is also recorded. All of these data enable us to have a deeper
understanding of the microbial habitat that the organisms naturally
resided. For example, if a specific bacterium within the Vibrio clade
that was collected from the surface of a diatom (phytoplankton)
produced a low-level hit in our screening, we can go back to our
collection database and search all vibrios of that ancestry (phylotype)
or ecotype (or both). Those isolates can then be re-screened,
prioritized for re-growing under different conditions and chemically
derivitized. This type of phylotype/ecotype bioprospecting is an added
rational dimension provided by our approach. A far cry from the purely
discovery-based old days of ``find `em and grind `em.''
As this work proceeds WHOI researchers will be seeking a biomedical
partner, likely in the private sector, to develop our drug leads into
actual approved drugs. Although there are some NIH sponsored programs
for pre-clinical drug development that we will explore as well.
Question 2. Are there opportunities for partnership between private
sector companies and researchers to utilize existing infrastructure,
such as telecommunications cables on ocean floor beds, to collect data
which could lead to a better understanding of new species and/or
Answer. Two obvious private sector infrastructure opportunities to
support basic ocean research include telecommunication cables and
commercial shipping. Both of these sources offer considerable
opportunity to provide a much more comprehensive picture of many
physical, geological and some biogeochemical processes in the oceans.
Placing sensors at regular intervals on telecommunication cables could
greatly increase our awareness of changes in ocean physical processes
that are important for understanding how the ocean is responding to
climate warming, including changes in physical and biological
processes. There is currently an effort to use the extensive telecomm
cable network supporting the oil and gas platforms throughout the Gulf
of Mexico to support elements of a regional ocean observing system.
Another suggestions include the placement of pressure sensors on cables
to support a tsunami network and the inclusion of listening posts for
marine mammals and fish that have been outfitted with acoustic tags.
Similarly, commercial shipping traffic that operate on regularly
scheduled routes are being outfitted with sensors and sounders to
supplement data collected in the EEZ and international waters during
research cruises and by the vast network of ARGO floats. As sensor
technology advances these devices will expand to include the capacity
to monitor biological activity, increasing our awareness of changes in
biological productivity below the surface in the open ocean, where
satellites are unable to penetrate.
However, there are considerable financial and legal issues that
complicate the implementation of these strategies. From the financial
perspective, the operators of commercial systems and infrastructure can
expect some level of financial support for the use of their assets.
Submarine cable operators in particular consider their capacity to
provide both power and data transmission capabilities a potentially
valuable commodity that can help offset infrastructure construction and
The other major difficulty is the unsettled legal environment
surrounding the collection of scientific data from the EEZ of nations.
Uncertainty and disputes over treaty interpretation and national
regulation of marine data collection create potential regulatory
burdens and risks, though particulars vary with each coastal state.
There are also sovereignty concerns, rightly or wrongly, with some
coastal states worrying that dual telecomscience cables will be used
for covert energy exploration or surveillance of military activities.
Difficulties surrounding what constitutes marine scientific research
will hamper the potential to fully exploit the scientific benefits of
existing marine infrastructure, a situation that would be improved, but
far from solved, if the U.S. eventually accedes to UN Convention on the
Law of the Sea.
Response to Written Question Submitted by Hon. Amy Klobuchar to
Need for STEM Education
You mentioned in your testimony that STEM education is critical to
our future, in relation to understanding the ocean for a number of
purposes. You say that we need to inspire children to want careers in
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
Question. Because innovative technologies are needed to further
explore the deep ocean, how vital is STEM focused education for deep
sea exploration? We know there are partnership programs to entice
students and companies to pursue investing in STEM education, and more
specifically ocean exploration technologies, what do you feel makes
these partnerships successful, and what more needs to be done?
Answer. The issue of the importance of STEM education to ocean
exploration goes in both directions; the ocean science community is
dependent upon a highly trained scientific and technology savvy
workforce, but it is also provides an attractive and effective
mechanism to interest and engage students in STEM disciplines. One
example is growing student interest in robotics in general while
underwater robotics provides the increased attraction of applying this
interest to ocean exploration. The ocean science community remains
fully committed to supporting the STEM education initiative, which
includes direct interaction with students at all levels of the academic
spectrum, from K-12 through post-doctoral students.
What has helped make many marine education partnership successful,
perhaps first and foremost, is the hands-on engagement of students with
scientist, in the field, in the lab, and for post-graduate level, in
the agencies, where particpants gain a better understanding of the
context within and drivers behind the work is being done. It is
difficult to overstate the importance of establishing a direct
relationship between students and scientists, since these interactions
provide much of the intellectual stimulus that rewards the participants
and provides the foundation for the continuation of these efforts with
the encouragement and support of the participants.
As for what is needed to improve the success of these efforts,
there are multiple suggestions. One of the biggest growth areas in
ocean studies at present is the huge expansion in data volumes
associated with all aspects of the research. This means that the next
generation of ocean scientists and engineers will need to be far more
numerate and computer literate that ever before. Researcher today must
deal with immense volumes of data, which has resulted in the growth of
the field of ocean informatics, which represents the union of
oceanography, information science and social science domains.
Infomatics' focus is to design a thick infrastructure that enables
interoperability and facilitates collaborative science and scientists.
The term is used simultaneously today in a variety of ways, emphasizing
applications of information technology, representing natural or human
systems, and exploring multifaceted sociotechnical issues. Thus, one of
the key ingredients to future success will be the ability to transfer,
store and manipulate these large data sets more effectively and more
efficiently. Important in this regard will be:
The use of telepresence to engage a wider number of
researchers, educators and their students than can participate
in deep ocean research directly using the traditional approach
of restricting participation to those at sea on research ships.
Improved algorithms to maximize efficiency searching larger
and more disbursed databases to select the most relevant data.
Improved forward and backward modeling of processes to help
anticipate where important data may arise and to help
prioritize where future studies should be focused to maximize
returns on investment.
To date, programs such as NOAA's Ocean Exploration program, the
Ocean Exploration Trust and the newly established Schmidt Ocean
Institute have made great advances in bringing research and exploration
ashore, in real time via telepresence, so that members of the public of
all ages and abilities can follow along, in the moment. The next step
is to move this a one-way data-stream--which is already very effective
for outreach purposes--and provide a more engaging two-way form of
communication. Using the same data-pipelines to harness these
capabilities, just as has already been done for Space-based research,
will allow for meaningful oceanographic research and education to be
pursued without the need for all such researchers and educators to be
aboard ship. Moving beyond the role of a distant observer, to having
students become actively participating in authentic research in real-
time, provides for a much more engaging experience.
Finally, there is also need for extra-curricular activities, either
after-school or during STEM summer camps, which feature ocean
exploration and robotics. Industry sponsorship is essential if we are
to make after-school and summer opportunities available for all
children, not just those whose parents can afford camp tuition. Greater
emphasis can be placed on developing partnership programs to entice
students and companies to pursue investing in STEM education.
Response to Written Questions Submitted by Hon. John Thune to
Question 1. With respect to its ability to inspire the next
generation of scientists and explorers, what kinds of responses have
you gotten as the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER has traveled across the country?
Answer. The DEEPSEA CHALLENGE Tour Across America made five stops
in the following U.S. cities between June 1 and 14, 2013: Los Angeles,
Dallas, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Woods Hole, MA.
In each of these cities, the DEEPSEA CHALLENGE team and its
education partner, the MUSE School, coordinated with local museums and
schools to host outreach events for student audiences with the goal of
inspiring future generations of scientists, engineers and explorers.
In addition to its scheduled tour stops, the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER and
its team made numerous unscheduled stops driving across the country in
both large and small cities including, but not limited to, El Paso and
Odessa, Texas and Shreveport and Monroe, Louisiana. Several of these
stops were covered by local news stations and generated significant
community interest. A partial list of links to the coverage these
informal stops generated is attached.
In Washington, D.C., Mr. Cameron and the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER
appeared at an education event that was attended by approximately 480
students representing 18 schools spanning K-12 grade levels (a complete
list of participating schools is attached). The following testimonials
represent a sampling of feedback from teachers and students regarding
their experience at this event.
``Thanks again for a great day; the kids had a fabulous
time. We appreciate your hard work!''--Ellen Ring, Anacostia
``My students really enjoyed the event today! They
especially liked seeing the sub and building their own.''--
Trilby Hillenbrand, MacFarland Middle School
``All the kids had a great time at the DEEPSEA CHALLENGE
Expedition. Even though they had [had] a crash course about the
expedition, I was SO proud of their fantastic questions to the
engineers and scientists.''--Monica Davis, Harriet Tubman
``I am going to work on my own sub over the summer. I think
that it should be operated by an android.''--Anonymous 4th
``Our students appreciate this opportunity. They have
completed oceanic internships, and have followed Mr. Cameron's
ocean research. We would like to collaborate with the Muse
school, as well as other local schools.''--Science Director,
Thomas Jefferson High School
In Dallas, the expedition team partnered with the Perot Museum of
Nature & Science to provide special programming--including a video
conference with Mr. Cameron to which school classrooms across the
country could link--on the subject of deep ocean science and
exploration. In the words of the Perot Museum's Vice President for
Programs, Steve Hinkley, ``During Jim's question and answer session . .
. literally every question came from someone under the age of 14; it
was one of the most impressive and encouraging things I have ever seen
in my 17 years in education. We didn't place an age restriction on the
audience participation, it was just the nature of the day, and the kids
The following links connect to footage of this video conference
from within the Perot Museum's auditorium and documents the student
audience's interactions with Mr. Cameron as they learn about the
DEEPSEA CHALLENGER and expedition.
DEEPSEA CHALLENGE Across America Tour--News Coverage
The following list represents a sampling of international, national
and local news coverage of the submersible's journey across the U.S.
and the public's reactions to seeing it.
Editorial by James Cameron and Susan K. Avery of WHOI
National and International Press
Iniziato il tour da costa a costa del sottomarino Deepsea Challenger
ideato da James Cameron
`Deepsea Challenger'--Gulf Times
James Cameron recorre EEUU con el minisubmarino ``Deepsea Challenger''
James Cameron Puts Sea Exploration Work on Hold (Arab Emirates)
James Cameron llega con su minisubmarino ``Deepsea Challenger'' a
Debut de la mission Deepsea Challenge de James Cameron
Hollywood Director James Cameroon tells Senate Panel to Boost Ocean
James Cameron llega con su minisubmarino ``Deepsea Challenger'' a
James Cameron: We're still living in an age of exploration
James Cameron: `Deep sea exploration could help predict tsunamis'
Deep Thoughts: James Cameron on the New Age of Exploration and His 11-
Kilometer Dive to the Challenger Deep, Part 1
Special Rolex Deepsea Challenge Exhibition in Aventura
James Cameron Puts Sea Exploration Work on Hold
NG Kids Reporter Visits the Deepsea Challenger Sub
Los Angeles, CA
Submarine piloted by James Cameron to begin cross-country journey
James Cameron's DeepSea Challenger Begins Its Final Journey
Deep Sea Exploration Will Have to Wait for `Avatar' Pics, Says Cameron
El Paso, TX
`Deepsea Challenger' passes through El Paso
Record breaking submarine passes through Shreveport
James Cameron's Submarine Stops in West Monroe
Movie Director James Cameron's submarine makes a stop in the Twin
Sub from Cameron solo dive to stop in Atlanta
Deepsea Challenger makes stop at Georgia Aquarium
For World Oceans Day: the Deepsea Challenger
Sub from Cameron solo dive to stop in Atlanta
The week ahead: Moniz testifies; senators dive deep
OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate dives into ocean research--a James Cameron
James Cameron brings his sub to D.C.
James Cameron to Show Off His Submarine Tomorrow
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution president, ``Titanic'' director
head to Capitol Hill
James Cameron's Next Deepsea Mission: Get Congress to Pay Attention to
James Cameron and submarine stop in DC
Hollywood director James Cameron urges boost in oceans research
James Cameron directs Congress: fund deep sea exploration
James Cameron takes Deepsea Challenger to Capitol Hill; pushes for
boost in oceans research
Washington, D.C. Education and Outreach Event--List of Schools in
School Name Grade Range # of Students
Stokes K-6 45
Capital City K-8 30
Cesar Chavez Parkside 6-8 25
Cardozo 9-12 30
Hart 6-8 30
Roots K-8 25
EL Haynes 6-8 25
Thomas Jefferson (VA) 9-12 4
Perry St. Prep preK-12 25
Ideal Academy preK-5 25
William E. Doar 6-8 25
Friendship Tech Prep 6-11 20
Imagine preK-5 20
Stuart Hobson 6-8 30
MacFarland 6-8 20
Anacostia HS 9-12 44
DC Prep K-8 11
Harriet Tubman ES K-5 50
18 Schools .................. 484 Students
Question 2. You mentioned that government incentives influenced
your decision to build some of the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER sub in Australia.
In addition to government rebates to entrepreneurs, what are some other
policies that can effectively spur private-sector research and
development that you think might work in the U.S.?
Answer. I could not provide a substantive response to the question
to meet the deadline.
Response to Written Questions Submitted by Hon. John Thune to
Dr. Susan K. Avery
Question 1. I am a cosponsor of a bill that would reauthorize the
National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). NIDIS seeks, in
part, to integrate multiple sources of data in order to provide useful
information about drought conditions to end users including those in
the private sector and at the local level. Are there any lessons
learned from the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) experience
that you think could apply to the model used by NIDIS? How has data
from IOOS assets been applied to our understanding of weather patterns,
like droughts, and how might these assets be better leveraged in the
Answer. First, it is necessary to clearly define the Integrated
Ocean Observing System (IOOS) as a comprehensive open ocean and coastal
observing system, as envisioned by the visionary ocean scientists who
have advocated for such a system for the past two decades or more.
Unfortunately, such an operational system does not exist, at least on
the scale required to fully observe ocean processes from the shoreline
out through international waters, and from the surface down to the
ocean bottom. Elements of this system are operating, including the IOOS
program in NOAA's National Ocean Service and the global ocean reference
stations supported by the NOAA Office of Research (OAR), the National
Science Foundation's research-based Ocean Observatories Initiative, and
additional observing systems supported by the U.S. Navy. However the
Nation and Federal agencies are still lacking a coherent governance
system and funding to support a truly operational integrated ocean
This is not for lack of effort or attention given it was arguably
the highest science priority of the congressionally-mandate U.S.
Commission on Ocean Policy (USCOP) and the Joint Ocean Commission
Initiative, which was co-chaired by Admiral James Watkins and the
Honorable Leon Panetta. A key element to the success of IOOS is stable
sustained funding. The only way to understand ocean processes, and
changes in these processes and their influence on weather and climate
patterns, is to establish long-term data collection systems that
provide crucial baseline data. This baseline data provides the
foundation for modeling and forecasting, as well as hind-casting, to
validate and refine model accuracy. The cost of ocean and coastal data
collection is high, given the size of the area, the harsh environment
and cost of deploying and retrieving data collection instruments. The
lack of a dedicated and centrally coordinated coastal and ocean
observation and data collection program has resulted in a balkanized
system that been receive less funding in recent years, despite
increased recognition of the role ocean plays in climate and weather
forecasting, including droughts.
These same data collection systems are also necessary to validate
and calibrate data collected by remote sensors on satellite systems,
which cannot ``see'' below the surface of the ocean. This last point is
significant, since the mixing of water below the ocean surface drives
much of the heat exchange at the water/atmosphere interface, which is a
key factor in many weather models.
The other major lesson learned from efforts to implement an
operational IOOS is the need for dedicated support for pragmatic,
functional data management. Priority should be given to the easy
submission, easy retrieval of data, over higher level functionality and
specialized configurations that limit access to and the usability of
data collected by various systems. Additional effort must focus on
simplifying the data management system to ensure that data collected
can be fully exploited by researchers across scientific disciplines.
Despite the fractured state of current ocean and coastal
observations, IOOS assets and related data are key to better prediction
of improved weather, climate, and their extremes. The ocean covers 70
percent of the land surface. It's a key source of heat and moisture
that drive the atmosphere. Changes in the amount and location of
moisture leaving the ocean, even at distant locations, will impact
rainfall and drought over land. Getting sea surface temperature, upper
ocean heat content, and the air-sea fluxes of heat, freshwater, and
momentum correct and accurate--both from observations and how they are
predicted/used in models is an essential part of a national strategy to
better understand and predict drought.
The ocean at remote global locations as well as along our coasts
modifies the weather and climate over the U.S. Moisture flows from the
oceans are key to understanding and predicting floods (i.e.,
atmospheric ``rivers'' pour onto the west coast, monsoonal moisture
flows over southwest and central U.S.). Similarly, large scale ocean
conditions and cyclic patterns, (such as El Nino and La Nina) play a
key factor in prolonged droughts. Going forward in the future it is
essential for the Federal Government to support more comprehensive and
sustained coastal and global ocean observations. This effort must not
be limited to just the collection of observations, but support the
continuum through data management and modeling, and facilitate the
interaction of the observing and modeling communities to maximize the
value of the data collected and guide the evolution of observing
Question 2. Adequate funding to support research is one factor in
maintaining our nation's competitiveness in science. What other factors
have contributed to your success in facilitating partnerships with the
private sector? What barriers have you encountered?
Answer. Academic and independent research institutions have become
a critical part of science enterprise of the U.S. economy, performing
more of the basic research. Private sector business funding is
disproportionately directed to applied research and development, moving
promising basic research results through the development stages towards
commercially viable products and services. This shift in focus has
increased industry's recognition of the importance of Federal funding
support for basic research and basic research institutions, such as
WHOI and the academic research community.
Beyond the increasing split in academic and private sector
responsibility for R&D activities, WHOI is unique as an independent
research institution with a scientific and engineering workforce that
is fully dedicated to R&D. This is different from most other ocean
research entities that are affiliated with formal academic research
institutions, where the majority of a scientist's responsibility is
associated with his or her education responsibilities. (FYI: WHOI has a
long-standing partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology supporting graduate and PhD level training). WHOI's 24/7
research focus is supported by a diverse workforce of roughly equal
number of scientists and engineers from across the spectrum of
scientific disciplines. These individuals are supported by highly
trained full-time technicians whose continuous training and extensive
knowledge greatly enhances the capacity of the Institution.
This workforce foundation and dedicated research focus is further
enhanced by the applied focus of the resident engineers. As basic
research transitions to applied research, supporting technology is
refined to meet operational demands. It is at this nexus of basic and
applied stages of research where opportunities for partnerships with
the private sector ripen. This is made evident by the 15 companies that
he been spun-off from WHOI licensed technology and knowledge.
One of the challenges to developing partnerships with private
industry is the issue of intellectual property rights. Private industry
investment in basic research with external partners comes with the
expectation that promising knowledge and technological advances
resulting from this work, which it has subsidized, should provide them
with some degree of preferential rights to capitalize on this
information in the market place. Establishing the balance of interest
among the partners supporting basic research and technology development
requires careful communication among the participants and a well-
designed legal agreement. Even with these tools the challenge of
soliciting private industry support for basic research with the
understanding that the long-term objective is to share this information
for the betterment of society, particularly when these funds are
leveraged by Federal funding support for research and research
infrastructure, is still in the process of being resolved.
WHOI is currently in the process of working through theses
negotiations with partners is has solicited in support of its Center
for Marine Robotics (CMR). The CMR is a partnership between WHOI, six
academic partners (MIT, John Hopkins, Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Tech
Research Institute, University of Rhode Island and Draper Laboratory.
The goal of the Center is to collaborate with industry sponsors,
academic partners, private philanthropy and key government agencies to
change the way people and machines work together in the marine
environment. Recent advances in robotic technology hold vast potential
to improve or expand exploration, monitoring, and intervention from
coastal waters to full ocean depth, and from ice-covered open ocean to
complex underwater infrastructure. This effort has the potential
revolutionize how humans and machines work in the ocean, providing
industry and the Federal Government with more efficient and effective
tools to support U.S. competitiveness and ensure the ecological
integrity our the ocean and its resources.
Finally, there is a clear role for Federal incentives to support
public/private R&D partnerships. James Cameron built the DEEPSEA
CHALLENER in Australia in large part because of the tax incentive they
provided--which emphasize support for small and medium sized firms--
allowing him to draw heavily on technology and engineering expertise
from multiple private companies in Australia. The submersible contains
over 180 onboard systems, including batteries, thrusters, life support,
3D cameras, and LED lighting, supported by a specially engineered
backbone and pilot sphere. Remarkably, this investment has been further
leveraged by Jim's decision to share this advanced technology with the
ocean science community by subsidizing its integration on to the
current fleet of HOVs, ROVs and AUVs, significantly expanding our
capacity to see and work beneath the surface of the ocean.
Question 3. In a budget environment where there is little to no new
money available for science, how would you prioritize the kind of
science that gets funded? For example, some testimony for this hearing
discussed the benefits of leveraging Federal assets, but others pointed
out that highly-leveraged funding can also be problematic when budgets
decrease. How do we best balance ``basic'' science and applied research
portfolios in the ocean sciences? In your opinion, are certain kinds of
research better suited to funding by public institutions or by the
Answer. Regarding prioritization of ocean science, it's important
to distinguish between science for which the hypothesis or theme is
provided by mission-driven agencies or other societal demands, versus
projects for which practicing scientists pursue discovery-driven
hypotheses based research pursuing knowledge within their respective
fields guided by the peer review process. NSF and NASA are the two
primary Federal agencies that support basic ocean research. The
priority for these two agencies should thus be the science for which
the hypotheses or themes are developed by the scientists.
In acknowledgement of the breadth of scientific disciplines
supporting ocean science, NSF recently sponsored the National Academies
to develop ``A Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences: Guidance for NSF on
National Ocean Research Priorities'' (http://dels.nas.edu/Study-In-
Progress/Decadal-Survey-Ocean-Sciences/DELS-OSB-12-03). This Ocean
Decadal Study, which is modeled after NASA's Earth Science and
Applications from Space decadal study, will develop a list of the top
ocean science priorities for the next decade in the context of the
current state of knowledge, ongoing research activities, and resource
availability. It is scheduled to be released early in 2015 and should
help ensure a balance in hypotheses driven research within NSF.
Mission-driven or applied research is guided by societal demands
for information, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) and DOD's Office of Naval Research (ONR) as the
primary funders. Whether it is environmental data to support NOAA
stewardship, climate and weather forecasting responsibilities, or DOD
and the Navy's national security interests and information requirements
to ensure battlespace superiority, one of the great concerns within the
ocean science community is the need for sustained funding to support
baseline observations and monitoring. Continuous baseline datasets are
critical to research to understand drivers underlying changes in
physical, biological, chemical and geological processes. These same
observations are also essential to building and refining models
supporting forecast and prediction that guide civilian and defense
In reality science is a continuum from basic through applied
research and the integration of this information into modeling and
decision-making processes as well as technology development. This is
readily apparent in ongoing efforts to improve the translation of
research to operations, or ``R20.'' A key element to extracting the
greatest value from investments in basic and applied research is
ensuring the continuity of data, implicit in which is funding support
for the collection, synthesis, analysis and delivery of this data in a
useable form. The benefits of discovery driven research and databases
supporting this work often take years, or decades to be fully
recognized and exploited for the benefit of society. Maintaining the
infrastructure responsible for the collection of scientific data has
proven to be a huge challenge, particularly in the ocean sciences where
infrastructure construction and operation and maintenance costs are
high due to the harsh working environment and cost of accessing the
Public funding of basic research is increasingly important given
industry's focus on investment in applied research and development
driven activities, a shift in focus that has been well documented by
NSF. Fortunately we are seeing increased interest from private sources
who are particularly good at funding ``directed research''. This type
of research is an example of when the problem, if not the actual
hypothesis, is provided by the funder, and scientists are asked to find
the answer. Some foundations and individual donors do solicit input
from external scientific sources to define the focus of their research
funding. In addition, private funding in increasingly being used to
leverage Federal funding, such as that supported by mission driven
agencies, by providing extramural (non-federal) research entities with
the resources necessary to increase responsiveness and flexibility to
address rapidly emerging issues, such as the Deepwater Horizon oilspill
and the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. Another example is Jim Cameron's
donation of the DEEP SEA CHALLENGER along with a million dollars, to
WHOI to assist in the integration of cutting-edge technology from the
submersible into the U.S. deep submergence fleet of manned and unmanned
underwater vehicles. This support provide a unique opportunity to
significantly advance the capacity of U.S. deep sea exploration. By
subsidizing work being supported with Federal funds, public investment
in research it allows non-federal science institutions to be much more
flexible and response than the generally monolithic Federal science
enterprise, reinforcing the need to strengthen the public/academic/
Question 4. A number of you have mentioned the importance of
educating our next generation of ocean explorers and scientists. How
can partnerships between government and industry help to inspire and
encourage future explorers?
Answer. This was a hot topic at the Ocean Exploration 2020
workshop, a meeting of both the public and private sector to shape a
National--not just federal--program. Michael Jones, the Chief
Technology Advocate for Google, advised the participants that while the
challenges facing the oceans, and the Earth system as a whole, are
sobering, it is important that those advocating for engagement with the
next generation remain encouraging about the wonders that wait to be
discovered. The power of inspiration is difficult to overstate and the
opportunity to explore the huge expanse of ``inner space'' is
compelling when articulated with passion.
Perhaps one of the greatest opportunities to expand interest in
oceans are recent advances in telepresence--using video technology on
remotely operated underwater vehicles with a fiber optic tether that
allows for real-time streaming of underwater footage. The increased
capacity for more people to ``see'' underwater with H-D cameras allows
scientists, students and the public to experience the excitement of see
new underwater environments, some being seen by humans for the first
time ever. This approach provides an attractive platform to engage high
tech industries and other corporate sponsors who have a vested interest
in generating excitement and enthusiasm among students at all levels of
the STEM education spectrum.
During the course of the workshop mentioned above, a fair amount of
time was dedicated to helping participants conceive of effective forms
of engagement with the public. The term ``Citizen Explorer'' was
developed with the concept that using telepresence and access to the
Ocean along all our coastal U.S. states, we can emulate the levels of
engagement enjoyed by the Amateur Astronomy and Ornithologist
communities in their respective fields. Again, this approach provides a
potential vehicle for industry to provide support for programs that
engage students and the public, while providing an opportunity to
showcase their role and contributions to advancing our knowledge of the
At the workshop it was also recognized that the outreach
opportunity extended beyond industry to artist. At the workshop, which
was held in the Aquarium of the Pacific, an a class at Art Center
College of Design, in conjunction with CalTech, was in the process of
launching an Ocean Movement, modeled after lessons learned in the Arab
Spring. While untraditional, this is they type of out-of-the-box
thinking that can help increase the visibility of ocean issues as well
as broaden engagement of the public and corporate communities.
Finally, one should not overlook the attraction associated with the
human element of exploration. There is no substitute for human eye and
brain as the best possible ``sensor'' one can use when exploring, or
generating and communicating the excitement when immersed in this type
of experience. As Jim has said in of his discussions with audiences,
``Many kids want to grow up to have adventures themselves--few of them
want to grow up to be a robot.''
Response to Written Questions Submitted by Hon. John Thune to
Jan Newton, Ph.D. and Edward Page
Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems
22 August 2013
Senator John Thune,
Re: Questions for the Record (QFRs) from the June 11, 2013
Hearing on Deep Sea Challenge: Innovative Partnerships in Ocean
Dear Senator Thune:
Thank you for the opportunity to provide additional information
following my testimony on behalf of the Northwest Association of
Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NANOOS) at the June 11, 2013
Commerce Subcommittee on Ocean, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard
hearing on Deep Sea Challenge: Innovative Partnerships in Ocean
I have coordinated my responses with the U.S. Integrated Ocean
Observing System (IOOS) Program Office, the IOOS Association, and my
panel cohort, Ed Page from the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS),
the Alaskan counterpart to NANOOS. We have attempted to provide you
with a national perspective as well as regional perspectives.
Question 1. I am a cosponsor of a bill that would reauthorize the
National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). NIDIS seeks, in
part, to integrate multiple sources of data in order to provide useful
information about drought conditions to end users including those in
the private sector and at the local level.
(a) Are there any lessons learned from the Integrated Ocean
Observing System (IOOS) experience that you think could apply to the
model used by NIDIS?
(b) How has data from IOOS assets been applied to our understanding
of weather patterns, like droughts, and how might these assets be
better leveraged in the future?
Answer. (a) I think there are many lessons learned from IOOS that
could apply to the NIDIS model because these programs share a similar
approach in terms of working at the interagency level and drawing from
many and diverse sources of data and providing those data to diverse
end users including those in the private sector and at the local level.
We have learned that public/private partnerships and leveraging are
highly beneficial, but have requirements: building partner
relationships based on trust; investing time and effort and sustaining
that to maintain the relationships; giving credit to data providers;
being policy neutral (e.g., we do not make management decisions; we
provide managers with data); and including outreach and education to
build an informed constituency.
Efficiency in using the type of system model IOOS represents is
highly dependent upon effective relationship building and to achieve
that, IOOS has really benefited from having ``Regional Associations''
(RAs), non-federal entities that connect at the local level to a wide
variety of stakeholders, including the private sector as well as
connecting with our regional Federal agencies, while working together
as a system to assure national consistency. Speaking from the
perspective of one of those RAs, NANOOS, we build relationships and
trust as well as offer new capacities to data providers on a regional
basis. For example, here is the power of that approach: NANOOS funds
(partially) 19 in situ data streams, yet we serve 176 data streams to
our users. We have integrated various Federal data streams and have
also harnessed data streams from local, tribal, private, state, and
academic providers. These people want us to serve their data because
they appreciate the data visualization and services we provide. Data
and information should be provided in near real time to disparate
stakeholders--usually via intuitive web portal technology.
Also, for this model to work, one must ``do it right.'' Public/
private partnerships and leveraging between them are important
components for success but it must be understood that these usually
require time and effort to minimize cultural impedance mismatches, that
is, the tendency that different groups (e.g., public vs. private, or
academic vs. industry partners) may not work together effectively
because of different perspectives, ways of doing business, underlying
assumptions, comfort levels, etc. To achieve regional relevance with
national consistency, we need to have federal/tribal/state/local
governments operating with the private sector, other stakeholders, and
the public at large in a cohesive fashion. Again, the IOOS RAs have
been very effective at helping to make this happen through establishing
years of trusted partnering. Since IOOS and the IOOS RAs do not make
policy or management decisions, we are neutral data providers, which
can enhance trust to a higher level than that often perceived for
government or for-profit partners.
Another tenet of this point is that once relationships are built,
sustaining them is critical. We lose so much efficiency when variable
or non-sustained funding causes start/stop/start dynamics. The
experience of NANOOS and other RAs is that the private sector will
support development projects but looks to the government for sustained
When NANOOS serves partner data, it is clearly credited. Thus
partner providers do not loose ownership or credit for their efforts.
We note, as is in the ICOOS Act, that the IOOS RA providing the data
from private providers should not be held liable for data they provide
voluntarily into the system.
Lastly, and this pertains to your final question, NIDIS should not
consider only serving hydrological data and products as their complete
picture. IOOS invests in robust outreach and education components to
build an informed constituency and entrain students and educators. I
think this has been an effective approach that NIDIS also would benefit
Answer. (b) IOOS is built in a modular way from regional, to
national to global footprints, all of which contribute. The U.S. IOOS
is a national system that includes all Federal civil ocean observing
programs as well as non-federal systems. In addition to serving as the
lead Federal agency for IOOS, NOAA contributes in situ, remote, open-
ocean and coastal observing systems to IOOS. The global ocean observing
systems that NOAA supports monitor changes of the global open ocean and
contribute directly to research and prediction capabilities for
drought, weather, and climate.
NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) relies on a range of ocean
observing systems including Tropical Atmosphere Ocean Project (TAO),
Argo floats, and the Global Drifter Program to provide up-to-date ocean
information for use in their forecast models. These in situ open-ocean
observing systems are all part of the national, Federal and non-federal
enterprise of IOOS. The tropical oceans are particularly critical for
forecasts beyond a few weeks. For example, the NIDIS portal (http://
prediction) describes the importance of the tropical Pacific region for
predicting the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomena. ENSO is
the large-scale circulation pattern driven by changes in surface
atmospheric pressure over the equatorial Pacific. The accompanying
changes in sea surface temperature (SST) in the Pacific associated with
ENSO are known to produce changes in wind, temperature and
precipitation patterns in North America. A network of buoys monitor
SSTs and deviations from normal are a guide for forecasters producing
seasonal outlooks. Research has shown certain weather patterns are
associated with El Nino (SSTs warmer than normal), La Nina (SSTs cooler
than normal) and ENSO-neutral conditions (SSTs near normal) but there
is no guarantee these patterns will emerge with each ENSO event.
Research within NOAA, nationally, and internationally, is actively
identifying longer-term changes of droughts, and connections of drought
to the oceans, land, and other parts of the earth system. Research
tells us that the tropical Pacific and Atlantic, as well as the mid-
latitude open oceans are associated with decadal-long droughts (e.g.,
the Dust Bowl era) in North America. Whether it is possible to predict
such droughts in advance based on ocean and other information within
climate models is a very active research area, but it is generally
accepted such capabilities will likely require ocean observations
deeper in the ocean. The global oceans are also believed to be
associated with droughts on other continents, so we have good reason to
be exploring the ocean's role in droughts.
While prediction of droughts in advance based on ocean and other
information within climate models is a very active research area, it is
generally accepted such capabilities will likely require ocean
observations deeper in the ocean. The non-federal IOOS partners operate
most of the coastal ocean observing assets that can make measurements
below the surface, which is essential for understanding heat budgets
important for drought prediction.
Focusing beyond droughts, I would say data from IOOS assets have
been applied quite successfully to our understanding of weather. All
throughout IOOS and certainly within NANOOS, our buoy sea surface
temperature and meteorological data, as well as High Frequency (HF)
surface radar data are going to the National Weather Service to improve
weather forecasting. The data are used nationally and by the local
Weather Forecast Offices. NANOOS supports not only these local offices,
but also the University of Washington's Climate Impacts Group and the
Oregon Climate Change Research Institute who focus on longer-term
There are many examples within IOOS where RA data have made a big
difference to weather forecasts. A notable one was Superstorm Sandy,
where offshore water temperature data from real-time IOOS sensors from
RA MARACOOS greatly aided the prediction of hurricane intensity and
path. Please see: http://www.ioos
The coastal ocean observing systems operated by non-federal components
of IOOS deliver valuable data and information about water and
atmospheric conditions on and near the coast. The influence of coastal
oceans on precipitation tends to be more local and shorter-term than
the timescale associated with drought.
How might we better leverage these assets in the future? One
concrete and relatively low cost way is to get more NDBC verified
meteorological stations on existing IOOS buoys or other measurement
platforms, especially those operated by non-federal IOOS partners which
are located throughout local coastal waters. This is important, since
weather over the water can be quite different than that over land,
e.g., at airports or other more standard weather station locations.
These differences can affect the accuracy of weather forecasting.
Question 2. Adequate funding to support research is one factor in
maintaining our Nation's competitiveness in science. (a) What other
factors have contributed to your success in facilitating partnerships
with the private sector? (b) What barriers have you encountered?
Answer. (a) As stated in my response to question 1, what has really
contributed to our success in facilitating partnerships with the
private sector is building trust and respect. We listened to our
partners and stakeholders in regard to what data and information they
wanted, what skills they could contribute, and then we looked at how we
could best leverage this all.
Our partnerships with private industry have two flavors: ones that
need data to do their business (e.g., shellfish growers) and ones that
have skills or products that could be used as part of the
infrastructure of IOOS (e.g., The Boeing Company). In the first type,
we have the data they want. What was essential to a successful
partnership was for us to understand specifically not only the data
they want but also, in order to be effective, on what timescales,
presented in what units, with what level of manipulation (e.g., graphic
or digital data)? Working with smaller user groups informed our design
and we present the data to them as a subset of all of our data holdings
and in a way that this specialized, versus through our general data
explorer. While in this case, they did not pay for the data, their
voice in alerting Congress and the public on the value of these data to
their industry was enormous (Please see ``Like putting headlights on a
car'' quote in my testimony).
In the second type, we have partners who want to execute with us
part of the IOOS or NANOOS enterprise. The Boeing Company has been one
of our regional partners in developing NANOOS's data systems since our
inception. Along with three universities and two state agencies, they
are a partner we fund and whose expertise we gain. Another example of
this type would be Microsoft Research, who hosted and funded our
successful workshop purely from their interest in our operations. This
workshop was part of a national series conducted regionally through
assistance of the IOOC (Interagency Ocean Observation Committee). The
``Pacific NW Waters-Gateway to our Future'' workshop in February 2012
was hosted by Microsoft Research in Redmond, WA, and was attended by
more than 150 people included a keynote address by Laura Furgione, NOAA
National Weather Services, and panels from five diverse user groups:
Fisheries; Alternative Energy; Aquaculture; Coastal Engineering; Hazard
Response and Marine Operations filled by federal, tribal, state,
academic, industry, and public speakers (http://www.ioos.noaa.gov/
ioos_in_action/stories/industry_workshop_feb2012.html). An outgrowth of
our partnering with Microsoft Research is that one of our NANOOS
coastal ocean modelers is taking his sabbatical there, to work on tool
visualization that NANOOS will ultimately benefit from and provide to
Answer. (b) If one takes the approach outlined above where
relationships are built on a local level, with trust and respect, over
time, and by sustaining that, then the barriers are chiefly funding or
related to funding. For instance, will we (NANOOS) be around to partner
with them into the future or will this government-supported program
fold? Private industry needs to understand risk levels to make informed
corporate/financial decisions. Uncertainties in the level of Federal
funding and commitment to IOOS have hindered industry's willingness to
Question 3. In a budget environment where there is little to no new
money available for science, how would you prioritize the kind of
science that gets funded? For example, some testimony for this hearing
discussed the benefits of leveraging Federal assets, but others pointed
out that highly-leveraged funding can also be problematic when budgets
decrease. How do we best balance ``basic'' science and applied research
portfolios in the ocean sciences? In your opinion, are certain kinds of
research better suited to funding by public institutions or by the
Answer. In my opinion, prioritization for science can be achieved
best when it is based on societal needs. However, balanced funding for
both basic science and applied research must be maintained because
these two support each other. I see that today's basic science provides
the foundation for tomorrow's applied science. I think of these two as
more of a continuum, wherein the fundamental information revealed by
basic science is put to use in applied science. We need active funding
programs for both and to ignore ocean science is at our peril. I
actually cannot think of any ocean science research that is not
Private foundations are well suited to funding large equipment
(e.g., buoys, radars), new technologies (e.g., sensors), or
infrastructure (e.g., building, ship, computer). NANOOS has benefited
from two different $500K awards from the Murdock Charitable Trust for
observing equipment (buoys, gliders, sensors). These groups like to
offer large sums for discrete items from time to time. Another example
would be in funding grand challenges like the X-prize being offered by
private industry for a low cost, accurate pH sensor. However, funding
for the sustained operations and maintenance (O&M) is critical for
ocean observing systems and is best suited to the Federal Government,
because of the stability needed for assurance of the data and
information. Foundations and private industry do not offer
opportunities for O&M grants, to my knowledge.
Leveraging is quite effective for infrastructure, platforms, data
systems, and other ``items.'' In NANOOS, we use a single buoy for many
diverse sensors and applications. We leverage the NANOOS data
visualization system to serve many diverse data streams. But we have no
way to support the people's jobs to maintain the buoy or run the data
system on a continuous basis except for through Federal or other
The nation has a National Science Foundation that serves well our
ocean science research. IOOS leverages those results every day, since
the observing technologies, modeling capabilities and analytical
capabilities stem from these investments. We must balance national
funding for sustained ocean observations, such as IOOS, in order to
maintain the jobs required to keep the observations coming, the models
running, and the information products and data flowing to the public.
Question 4. A number of you have mentioned the importance of
educating our next generation of ocean explorers and scientists. How
can partnerships between government and industry help to inspire and
encourage future explorers?
Answer. Partnerships between government and industry can help to
inspire and encourage future explorers by providing them access to
data, information, and technology on ocean environments. The key,
however, is to not try to prescribe this. What is essential is to have
the partnership between government and industry be the type of healthy
relationships described here. From these partnerships there will be
myriad and excitingly unpredictable pathways to inspire and encourage
future explorers. Creative minds love to educate the others through
providing ways to enhance exploration.
Examples from NANOOS region: A marine sensor company, Nortek USA,
is a NANOOS member. They serve on our Governing Council and some of our
PIs utilize their sensors on the observing assets, though this is not
mandated. However, Nortek benefits from connecting with our PIs. While
ocean sensor providers are in a for profit industry, most of them found
that field because of their excitement to study the ocean and their
passion to figure out how to do it better. So, it was quite befitting
that as their industry has survived, in part because of ocean observing
programs like IOOS, they have figured out how to give back and entrain
others. Nortek created a scholarship program for students to use their
equipment on research projects and an annual science meeting where
students come to present their results. As NANOOS Executive Director, I
have been asked to be their keynote speaker in the past; they continue
to pull in passionate scientists to this role each year to inspire the
next generation of ocean observers.
Another example is the Microsoft Research, a NANOOS partner
mentioned in my response to question 2, showcased our observational
data and ocean model results in a 3-D presentation at the local Pacific
Science Center's first ever Seattle Science Festival . . . a wildly
successful event with over 20,000 attendees that is now an annual
affair. A quote from one of their leads ``Going forward: I'd love to do
more with NANOOS, I don't need funds as such but I am always time-
limited . . .'' implies that creativity, desire, and, in this case,
even funds are not the limitation. A successful outgrowth of this
partnering has been engagement of both parties in the desire to display
ocean data in more immersive ways . . . the partnership still in its
formative stage, shows a good match and how the public, via the Pacific
Science Center in Seattle, but also via the web worldwide, will
I think these two examples show that private industry has a wide
diversity of ways to inspire and encourage future explorers. The key is
to have the partnering infrastructure of humans that can connect
locally in a meaningful context.