Division of Ocean Sciences - Fall 2002 Newsletter
NSF 04-003
(Replaces NSF 03-014)

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Crosscutting Programs | Biological Oceanography | Chemical Oceanography | Physical Oceanography | Marine Geology and Geophysics | Ocean Drilling Program | Education | Ocean Technology and Interdisciplinary Coordination

Ocean Technology and
Interdisciplinary Coordination

Ocean Technology

For those interested in submitting proposals to develop new ocean instrumentation, I thought that it would be useful to summarize current funding opportunities available to support this work at NSF. There are many options for obtaining funds to develop instrumentation. Within OCE these proposals are accepted by the Ocean Technology component of the Ocean Technology and Interdisciplinary Coordination (OTIC) Program. Proposed instrumentation should have broad applicability to ocean science research and should enhance the observational, experimental, and/or analytical capabilities of the ocean science research community. Current priority areas for Ocean Technology include the development of sensors and infrastructure to enable investigations at ocean observing systems, instruments facilitating time-series observations, and the development of biological and chemical sensors.

Another competition where ocean instrumentation proposals have been successful is the Instrumentation Development for Environmental Activities (IDEA) competition, which is part of the Biocomplexity Initiative. A primary theme of this competition is the development of in situ instrumentation or remote sensing technologies that minimize environmental impact and presence, while increasing real-time data-gathering opportunities and reducing or eliminating human attention. This development should take advantage of recent advances in microelectronics, photonics, telemetry, robotics, wireless communication, and physical and chemical sensing systems.

A new funding opportunity released this year by the Directorate for Engineering (ENG) and Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), with contributions from other groups at NSF, including the Directorate for Geosciences is the Sensors and Sensor Networks solicitation (http://www.nsf.gov/pubsys/ods/getpub.cfm?ods_key=nsf03512). This solicitation has provided an excellent opportunity to submit proposals that are multidisciplinary and that may generate interest within ENG and CISE. For this first competition, three ocean sciences related proposals were funded from the large pool of proposals received.

Instrumentation Workshop

An important recognition raised at numerous venues is the need for an expanded portfolio of chemical and biological sensors available to the oceanographic community. In particular, with the expansion of current and future ocean observing activities, there is a great need for biological and chemical sensors that are able to collect time-series measurements over extended time periods. To help address this need, a workshop was held from July 13-16 at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution that sought to bring together oceanographers, instrument developers, and specialists in new and emerging technologies to help provide new directions for future in situ oceanographic instrumentation. The primary goal of this workshop was to identify: new technologies and innovations emerging in the fields of engineering, analytical chemistry, biosensors, and molecular biology; those technologies that would be useful in addressing major outstanding scientific problems in oceanography; and the technological barriers to applying these technologies and how these can be overcome.

The first day and a half of the workshop was devoted to presentation of new and existing technologies. These talks, on technologies that included nanotechnology, sensor arrays, miniaturized complex instrumentation, automated complex chemical analyses, biosensor arrays, Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy, and new high-resolution optical visualization tools, provided the backdrop for stimulating discussions within the breakout sessions. The presentations from this workshop and the soon to be completed workshop report can be found at: http://www.whoi.edu/institutes/oli/activities/symposia_sensors.htm. In addition, the organizing committee is planning to publish overview papers about this workshop in Oceanography as well as other community journals.

Coastal Ocean Processes Program (CoOP)

Since the last newsletter, two awards were made from proposals submitted to the Buoyancy-driven Transport Processes Announcement of Opportunity. This Announcement was developed from an open community workshop that defined the research needed to better understand processes controlling buoyancy-driven systems influenced by freshwater flows. The workshop results and Science Plan were published as the CoOP Report Coastal Ocean Processes: Transport and Transformation Processes over Continental Shelves with Substantial Freshwater Inflows (CoOP Report No. 7) and are available on the CoOP website (http://www.skio.peachnet.edu/coop/index.php).

The River Influences on Shelf Ecosystems (RISE) project focuses on the highly productive eastern boundary plume of the Columbia River. In particular, this study will compare biological production rates within and outside the Columbia River plume, on the more productive shelf to the north and the less productive shelf to the south of the river mouth. Results of the RISE project will clarify why a shelf with weaker upwelling winds is more highly productive throughout the food chain than a shelf with stronger winds. RISE will integrate results from the nearby, previously funded, CoOP project Coastal Ocean Advances in Shelf Transport (COAST) as well as salmon-related regional studies by NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Center to provide new information on alteration of rates of biogeochemical processes by the unique stratification, turbidity, mixing environment and nutrients of a river plume. More information on this project can be found on the RISE website (http://oceanweb.ocean.washington.edu/rise/).

The Lagrangian Transport and Transportation Experiment (LATTE) project will use coordinated field and numerical experiments, to examine processes controlling the transport and fate of nutrients and contaminants in the urban Hudson River plume. In addition to field experiments that are specific to this project, LATTE will also use components of Rutgers’s New Jersey Shelf Observing System. A central experiment of this project is the injection of a harmless fluorescent dye into the plume of water flowing from the Hudson. This experiment will be repeated five times over the life of the project and each time the LATTE team will follow the dye by boat as it progresses into the ocean. While following the dye, the PIs will determine how nitrogen, lead, cadmium, mercury and other substances are transported at different depths and under different conditions. By studying phytoplankton and zooplankton, the group will also study how metals and nutrients enter the base of the food chain. More information on this project can be found at: http://marine.rutgers.edu/cool/hudson/LATTEcruise.htm.

Alexandra Isern (aisern@nsf.gov)

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