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OCEAN SCIENCES $319,010,000

The FY 2003 Budget Request for the Ocean Sciences Subactivity is $319.01 million, an increase of $37.96 million, or 13.5 percent from the FY 2002 Current Plan of $281.05 million.

(Millions of Dollars)


FY 2001

FY 2002
Current Plan

FY 2003




Oceans 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. Included in OCE funds are those provided for programs transferred from other agencies, as previously described: $40.81 million for the Sea Grant program and $2.50 million for the Environmental Education program.

Recent discoveries demonstrate that the ocean has much yet to reveal. Scientists from the University of Delaware working in cooperation with Amersham Biosciences, Inc. conducted the first-ever DNA sequencing experiments at sea. Using the research vessel Atlantis and submersible Alvin (operating out of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute), the team carried out a pioneering environmental genomic study of the strange life that inhabits supper-hot hydrothermal vents almost two miles deep in the Pacific Ocean. The research is important for its contributions to the new field of marine genomics and to our basic ecological understanding of unusual deep-sea vent communities.

The FY 2003 Budget Request includes $120.01 million for Oceans 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 from individual investigator laboratory-based work to multi-investigator collaborations and international programs which require substantial amounts of ship-time and other facility resources. Priorities for FY 2003 include support for:

  • Efforts to understand the linkages between oceans and human health, including vector & water-borne diseases, harmful algal blooms and marine pharmaceuticals;

  • Studies of marine biocomplexity, particularly 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;

  • Encourage interdisciplinary collaborations between mathematicians, statisticians and geoscientists to develop new approaches to solve problems and provide new insights in quantitative oceanography;

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

  • Investigation 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 $104.00 million and coordinates critical functions integral to the Ocean Sciences Subactivity. They include education and diversity programs, ship operations, upgrades, construction, instrumentation, technical services, and oceanographic facilities, new technology development, ocean observatories and observation systems, the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) and its emerging OCEANS.US coordination office. Priorities for FY 2003 include:

  • 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 and support of Dr. Colwell as new Chair of the National Ocean Research Leadership Council (NORLC), and planning for academic fleet renewal based on the NORLC-approved plan;

  • Enhancement of technical and shared-use instrumentation for projects 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 $95.00 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 produced by plate tectonic processes and fluid flow in sedimentary and crustal rock. 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 (ODP), which is jointly financed with seven international partners. Completion of drilling activity within the ODP and planning for a future phase of scientific ocean drilling are high priorities. Additional priorities for FY 2003 include support for:

  • Research projects and field programs focused on understanding dynamics of the ocean mantle and its effect on the structure and evolution of the lithosphere,

  • Increased use of observatory instrumentation and experiments at integrated ridge crest study sites to evaluate biological and hydrothermal dynamics and their roles in planetary metabolism and ecology,

  • Integrated observational, laboratory and theoretical studies of continental rifting process in coordination with the Earth Sciences subactivity, and

  • Coordinated geologic, geochemical, geophysical and drilling studies of fluid flow in ocean crust and continental margin sediments.
  Last Modified: Sep 17, 2004


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