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NSF Congressional Highlight

NSF's Ocean Science Research "Waved" in House Hearing

July 13, 2004

Dr. Margaret S. Leinen, Assistant Director for the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Geosciences Directorate appeared before the House Committee on Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans on Tuesday, July 13, 2004. The hearing entitled, "Ocean Observing Systems in the United States," examined the Federal government's collective investment in ocean science research, considering the need and timeliness of a large-scale integrated ocean monitoring system.

Chairman Mr. Wayne T. Gilchrest (R-MD) opened the hearing commenting on the significant role that ocean science research has played in our holistic understanding of the earth's climate, environment, and natural resources. The witnesses reiterated the need for further exploration of ocean systems, especially the growing requirement of a real-time, integrated monitoring system. Such a system would catalyze our understanding of this fascinating aqueous frontier, and its larger effects on global systems.

Leinen touted many of NSF's research contributions to the ocean science discipline. To emphasize the nation's need for an integrated, comprehensive ocean monitoring system, Leinen pointed to exciting breakthroughs resulting from sustained ocean measurements. This research has led to the identification of: diverse microbial life in ocean crust fluids; fluctuations in biological productivity; and changes in ocean temperatures and salinity. "Sustained measurements at coastal, open ocean and sea floor locations attest to the potential impact of research observatories currently under development," said Leinen.

The panels agreed that multi-disciplinary, cooperative research programs are invaluable to the collective grand challenge of a holistic understanding of our planet's oceans. Federal investments guided by an interagency, international strategy involving industry, academe, and government partners will be paramount as new research technologies are developed and deployed. Enhanced, twenty-first century systems for gathering, synthesizing, conveying, and using information about the ocean could be provided by such an integrated, interdisciplinary research platform funded by the federal government.

Also testifying were:

  • Dr. Richard W. Spinrad, Assistant Administrator National Ocean Service, NOAA;
  • Mr. Robert Winokur, Technical Director, Oceanographer of the Navy;
  • Dr. Robert A. Weller, Senior Scientist, Director, Cooperative Institute for Climate and Ocean Research, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution;
  • Dr. Donald F. Boesch, President, Center for Environmental Science, University of Maryland;
  • Dr. Newell "Toby" Garfield, San Francisco State University, Center for Integrative Coastal Observation, Research and Education (CICORE);
  • Ms. Molly McCammon, Executive Director, Alaska Ocean Observing System,
  • Mr. Evan Richert, President, Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System;
  • Mr. Cortis Cooper, Metocean Consultant, Energy Technology Co, ChevronTexaco;
  • Dr. J. Frederick Grassle, Director, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; and
  • Ms. Helen A. Brohl, and Executive Director, National Association of Maritime Organizations.

Details regarding the hearing can be found at the House Reform Committee's website.

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