Summary of FY2002 Budget Request to Congress - National Science Foundation

OCEAN SCIENCES $255,250,000

The FY 2002 Budget Request for the Ocean Sciences Subactivity is $255.25 million, a decrease of $2.68 million, or 1.0 percent from the FY 2001 Current Plan of $257.93 million.

(Millions of Dollars)

   FY 2000
FY 2001
Current Plan
FY 2002
Amount Percent
Ocean Section
Integrative Programs Section
Marine Geosciences Section
Total, OCE

Totals may not add due to rounding.

The Ocean Sciences Subactivity (OCE) supports research to improve knowledge of the physical, chemical and biological processes that characterize both coastal seas and deep ocean basins, and the geological and geophysical processes that shape the continental shelves and deep sea floor. Support is also provided for the facilities required to gain access to the ocean, including research vessels, manned deep diving submersibles and a wide range of technologically advanced observational instrumentation. Oceanography is a highly interdisciplinary research endeavor that is fundamental to the understanding of the Earth's climate, to resource and hazard assessment, and to the health of the ocean's complex and diverse ecological systems. NSF provides over 70 percent of federally supported basic research in the ocean sciences performed in colleges and universities.

Recent discoveries demonstrate that the ocean has much yet to reveal. Scientists with the Hawaii Ocean Time-series (HOT) project discovered that Archaea, one of three separate domains of life on our planet, may constitute up to 50 percent of the biomass of the open ocean. This discovery will have a major impact on our view of how the oceans function ecologically. Another team of scientists unexpectedly discovered a new hydrothermal vent field, dubbed "The Lost City," on the mid-Atlantic ridge. The Lost City contains the largest hydrothermal chimneys of their kind ever observed, reaching 180 feet above the seafloor. The knowledge resulting from discoveries such as these, and subsequent research, will greatly advance our understanding of how the ocean functions.

The FY 2002 Budget Request includes $96.10 million for Ocean Section research support. Studies span a wide range of research topics involving processes occurring within the water column from the air/sea interface to the ocean floor. Research problems increasingly require focused, collaborative, and coordinated programs of observation and interpretation that are often interdisciplinary. Projects range in size from individual investigator laboratory-based work to multi-investigator collaborations and international programs that require substantial amounts of shiptime and other facility resources. Priorities for FY 2002 include support for:

  • studies of marine biocomplexity, particularly studies of marine ecosystems at all levels of organization from functional genomics of marine organisms at the molecular level to open ocean non-linear processes;

  • continued development of capabilities for data assimilation and modeling for ocean circulation and biogeochemical flux studies, resulting from a growing history of sustained time-series observations;

  • research to identify, understand, and quantify the processes controlling carbon cycling in the oceans;

  • efforts to understand the linkages among oceans, climate, and human health;

  • nvestigation of the role played by the extra-tropical oceans in the major patterns of climate variability; and

  • enhanced long-term process studies of deep ocean and coastal systems using sustained time-series observations, and development of new technology for ocean and seafloor observation systems.

The Integrative Programs Section totals $82.85 million and coordinates those critical functions integral to the Ocean Sciences Subactivity as a whole. They include educational and diversity programs, ship operations, upgrades, construction, instrumentation, technical services, and oceanographic facilities, as well as new technology development, ocean observatories and observation systems, the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) and its emerging OCEANS.US coordination office. Priorities for FY 2002 include support for:

  • programs targeted at increasing diversity through new educational opportunities at the pre-college and undergraduate levels;

  • development of a Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) designed to improve communications between the ocean research and K-12 communities;

  • the academic research fleet to ensure that required ship time and capabilities are provided to satisfy merit reviewed research project requirements for NSF-sponsored studies;

  • effective participation in NOPP and its OCEANS.US coordination office;

  • enhancement of technical and shared-use instrumentation for research project awards to sea-going scientists;

  • continued maintenance and ship-improvement programs and increased support for quality improvement activities in operations and technical services programs; and

  • technology development, particularly for smart environmental sensors and the design of infrastructure to support seafloor observatories.

The Marine Geosciences Section totals $76.30 million and supports research to improve fundamental understanding of the composition, structure and evolution of the oceanic crust and continental margins; the record of global environmental and biologic change; and geochemical cycling as recorded in ocean sediments. This includes support for core research in marine geology, geochemistry and geophysics; coordinated community initiatives focused on thematic priorities in planetary dynamics and earth system cycles; and U.S. management and participation in the Ocean Drilling Program, which is jointly financed with seven international partners. Priorities for FY 2002 include support for:

  • research project awards for field programs focused on contributions to earth system history and continental margin studies in coordination with the Earth Sciences Subactivity;

  • new scientific and technical requirements to extend capabilities for deep biosphere investigations for ocean biocomplexity studies;

  • equipment maintenance and operational funding for the international Ocean Drilling Program;

  • research in planetary structure and dynamics using scientific drilling samples from the Pacific basin and deep earth structure studies focused on expansion of the global seismic network; and

  • integrated studies of hydrothermal systems, ocean geologic controls and associated biological communities using submersibles, remotely operated vehicles and seafloor sensors with a focus on their role in planetary metabolism and ecology.

Change in Budget Structure

The OCE Subactivity was organizationally restructured in November, 2000. The new structure for the Division arranges programs into logical groupings by research interests and functions, and is expected to improve internal efficiencies. In FY 2002, a corresponding budget restructuring is proposed to align the budgetary elements in the Subactivity with the new organizational structure, promoting effective and efficient management of budgetary resources.

Below is the table crosswalking between the old and proposed new budget structure for FY 2001.

Millions of Dollars

NEW STRUCTURE Ocean Science Research Support Oceanographic Centers
and Facilities
Ocean Drilling Program TOTAL
Ocean Section
Integrative Programs Section
Marine Geosciences Section

Totals may not add due to rounding.


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