Program News

Biological Oceanography

The Biological Oceanography Program is joining NOAA (Coastal Oceans Programs), EPA (Office of Research and Development, National Center for Environmental Research and Quality Assurance), and ONR in mounting the ECOHAB Program _ Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms. Evidence suggests that over the last few decades, the frequency and duration of harmful algal blooms (HABs) have been increasing both nationally and worldwide. The limited scope of past HAB studies has precluded a fundamental examination of the many factors that regulate the distribution and abundance of species involved in HABs. This interagency ECOHAB program represents a major response to address the need for long-term, large-scale, interdisciplinary studies on the environmental processes that facilitate and regulate HABs in the coastal ocean. The general goal is to develop a predictive understanding of how physical and biological processes interact to promote bloom development, affect bloom dominance, and contribute to bloom maintenance or decline.

Research activities in the coastal Northeast Pacific Ocean are in the forefront of the attentions of the US GLOBEC and Coastal Ocean Processes (CoOP) Programs. An announcement of opportunity supported by NSF and NOAA has solicited proposals for preliminary modeling, monitoring and retrospective analyses to form the framework for US GLOBEC Northeast Pacific Program and CoOP's California Current studies. CoOP's goal in studying the California Current System of the Northeast Pacific is to understand the processes which contribute to cross-shelf transport processes where the circulation is strongly wind-driven. US GLOBEC seeks to examine the close connection between the ecosystem dynamics in both gyres in the northeast Pacific Ocean - the California Current System (CCS) and the Coastal Gulf of Alaska (CGOA). The Biological Oceanography Program is working with Ocean Technology and Interdisciplinary Coordination (Larry Clark's bailiwick here at NSF/OCE) and the Coastal Oceans Program at NOAA (Don Scavia and Judy Gray) in administering these programs. Awards for the initial phases of the CoOP and US GLOBEC programs in the Pacific will be made in the middle of 1997 and will be followed by integrated process studies starting in the year 2000.

The Divisions of Ocean Sciences and Environmental Biology have cooperatively supported the LMER (Land Margin Ecosystems Research) Program for the past eight years. The two Divisions, following substantial interaction with the scientific community, decided to discontinue this Program with the completion of extant projects, and replace it with an augmentation of the LTER Program with focus on Land/Ocean Margin Ecosystems (LOME). A June 1997 deadline was established for proposals to LTER:LOME that emphasize major ecological questions on the linkages between terrestrial and coastal ecosystems including seeking to understand the causes of major ecological and environmental changes that influence land/ocean-margin environments, and how the populations, communities, and ecosystems of the land/ocean-margin environment respond to these changes. Both Divisions anticipate additional augmentations to LTER with research on Land/Ocean Margin Ecosystems. The Biological Oceanography Program is administering this initial LTER:LOME competition.

The Division of Ocean Sciences has been the lead office for the US JGOFS Program from the start, yet many offices of other Federal agencies have cooperated in the overall dimensions of US JGOFS to date. As the last major activity of US JGOFS, Biological and Chemical Oceanography, along with NASA (its Earth Observing System Interdisciplinary Science and Biological Oceanography Programs) are supporting the Synthesis and Modeling Project.

Biological Oceanography has been busy working within the Division and with the many other parts of NSF on the LExEn initiative (see page 1). Our primary OCE interests lie in the prospective microbial biomes deep within ocean crusts and ocean sediments.

We are also kept active in the Biological Oceanography Program with the ongoing activities in: US JGOFS and the Southern Ocean Program: Antarctic Ecosystems - Southern Ocean Program; US GLOBEC and the second phase of the Northwest Atlantic Program in and around Georges Bank; and the RIDGE Program's LARVE (Larvae at Vents Ecosystems) research focus.

DIALOG II: Dissertations Initiative for the Advancement of Limnology and Oceanography will be held October 12-17, 1997, at the Bermuda Biological Station for Research. The Dissertations Initiative for the Advancement of Limnology and Oceanography Program is run by ASLO. DIALOG II is currently supported by the NSF, NOAA, NASA and ONR. DIALOG seeks to reduce the historical, institutional and philosophical barriers that limit the exchange of information among aquatic scientists, and to expedite the transition from Ph.D. student to independent researcher.

While the deadline for participation in DIALOG II has passed, please contact Dr. Susan Weiler, ASLO for information about the program and future participation at:

OMB 317, Whitman College
Walla Walla, WA 99362, USA
509-527-5948, fax: 509-527-5961

Chemical Oceanography Program

With the end of the decade fast approaching and the end of US JGOFS in sight, the staff of the Chemical Oceanography Program believes that it is time to gather representatives from the marine chemistry community to assess where the field is now, where it is heading, and how it might get there. To this end, we intend to establish a steering committee to design and convene a community workshop on the "Future of Chemical Oceanography in the U.S." something like last year's FUMAGES workshop initiated by the Marine Geology and Geophysics Program.

While the idea has originated here at NSF, articulation of its design and substance must be a grassroots activity if the workshop is to vocalize effectively and accurately the outlook of the chemical oceanography community. What do you think about this? What needs to be done, who among our colleagues would you especially like to see involved? Please let us know.

U.S.JGOFS SYNTHESIS AND MODELING PROJECT (SMP): The Implementation Plan and a joint NSF/NASA Announcement of Opportunity (NSF-97-79) for the last phase of the U.S.JGOFS Program have been released. Both documents may be accessed at the U.S.JGOFS Office WWW site (see sites of interest section). To view the Announcement from the NSF Homepage, go to `Geosciences' and scroll down.

REU Supplements: The CO Program now considers REU supplements for funding after both Panels (May and November) rather than only after the May Panel as in past years. This new arrangement should allow principal investigators more flexibility in planning opportunities for undergraduate students to participate in marine chemistry research projects during the academic year as well as during the summer break.

DISCO XIV: The fourteenth Dissertations Symposium in Chemical Oceanography will convene October 6-10 at the East-West Center, University of Hawaii. Applications should already be available at your institution; if not, contact Marilynn Maury, American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), at 202-628-1500 ext.254.

GEOSECS Atlases Available: Rodger Baier has retrieved copies of volumes 1, 3, 4, 5, and 7 of the GEOSECS Atlas from storage for distribution to anyone who can put them to use.

If you have questions about the Program, please contact us by phone at 703-306-1589 or (preferably) by email:

Rodger Baier (
Ken Buesseler (
Don Rice (

Marine Geology & Geophysics

The Future of Marine Geosciences Workshop, sponsored by MGG and the Ocean Drilling Program, took place in Ashland Oregon, last December. State-of-the-science papers were presented on ridges, convergent and divergent margins, sediment processes, climate change, fluids, and lithosphere aging. Thematic group breakouts on solid earth, climate, sediments, and fluids were interspersed with plenary sessions to explore the interrelations among the thematic topics. The workshop report is nearing completion (available on the JOI homepage). It will be distributed widely and continued community input is solicited.

MGG continues to participate in the Earth System History (ESH) initiative through its MESH component. In addition to the original OCE, EAR, and ATM program participants, two other programs have joined ESH -- paleoclimate components of ARCSS (Arctic System Science) and the NOAA Paleoclimate Program. The combined budget for ESH is approximately $9 million per year, with just over $2 million coming from the MGG program. More than 130 proposals were submitted to ESH for the last deadline; a dramatic increase from the previous target.

Because of the continuing discussions of the effects of resubmitted proposals on reviewer and program work loads, we compiled the statistics on resubmitted proposals from the past eight proposal cycles.

During the eight cycles from January 1993 to May 1996, about 30% of the proposals received by the MGG program had been submitted, and declined, previously. During this time the success rate of resubmitted proposals was nearly the same as the overall success rate. Interesting patterns emerge, however, when the resubmittals are considered as a function of awards, as shown in the figure. For these cycles, the largest percentage of awards is for proposals submitted only once, and the success rate falls off dramatically after the first resubmission.

It is apparent from the figure that compelling proposals are recognized by the peer review community, and funded by the MGG program, the first time they are submitted. It may be worthwhile resubmitting a proposal once, but, without major changes, the success of further resubmissions is very small. Resubmissions are always competing against new proposals, not just against other resubmitted proposals, and the majority of awards (50-70%) are drawn from those new proposals.

Ocean Drilling Program

It has been a busy and productive period for the Ocean Drilling Program. The drillship, JOIDES Resolution, is presently completing a six-leg drilling program in the North Atlantic before heading for the Southern Ocean later this Fall. Drilling in the North Atlantic is concentrated on completing studies of the Barbados accretionary complex and the early rifting of the Iberian margin, examining the paleocirculation and sea level history of the western North Atlantic, and deploying a long-term borehole observatory near the mid-Atlantic ridge to study hydrogeologic processes in young crust.

At Barbados the program has continued its successful use of logging-while-drilling (LWD) techniques developed in the commercial drilling business. In this technique, formation physical properties are measured and recorded by instruments at the drill bit, rather than by instruments lowered into the hole after drilling. Accretionary complexes such as Barbados are notoriously unstable and difficult to examine with standard coring and logging operations. The LWD technique produces a better picture of the formation with much less risk of instrument loss. The drilling in Barbados has been concentrating on process of fluid flow along faults in the accreted sediments and the relation to sediment deformation and faulting.

Drilling on the Blake Nose off northeastern Florida was designed to examine the Paleogene and Cretaceous deep-water circulation and its impact on low-latitude climate. Although deep waters are presently formed in high latitude northern and southern oceans, previous evidence has indicated that deep water in the Cretaceous and Paleogene may have formed near the equator. The sediments recovered during the cruise should provide a detailed record of these circulation changes. Most spectacularly, three cores returned an incredibly detailed record of the impact event at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary. The sediments record both the conditions of the pre-impact ocean and the actual impact event. Recovery of the biota of the oceans is also well recorded in the overlying sediments. The results were widely reported in the national and international press.

In June and July, the Resolution will continue a drilling program on the continental shelf off New Jersey to examine the history of sea level and sediment accumulation. This program will drill at some of the shallowest sites ever attempted in ODP and will again be benefitted by the use of LWD techniques. The drillship will also make its last U.S. port call for a number of years following the leg. An open house and other activities are planned for New York City on July 20 if you happen to be in the Big Apple and want to see the vessel. In addition to the exciting science of recent months, the program has also completed a major reorganization in its science planning structure. Now, overall scientific direction will be provided by a new Science Committee (SCICOM) with operational matters devolved to a subcommittee (OPCOM). U.S. membership on the SCICOM is open to scientists at any U.S. organization.

On the international scene, planning for phase III of the LRP (1999-2003) is well underway. The program has been structured to allow our international partners to reevaluate their desire to continue in the program during this phase. To date, all indications appear positive and, in fact, the program has recently added two new participants as South Korea and the National Taiwan University joined the Consortium of Canada and Australia. Negotiations are continuing over membership of the People's Republic of China in the program.

On the longer term, the ODP as it is presently structured will end in 2003. The Long Range Plan calls for extending ocean drilling beyond that point in a new program that would have two drilling vessels - one with the capability of the present JOIDES Resolution and one capable of deep water well control through the deployment of a riser or similar system. For several years, scientists and administrators in Japan have been formulating plans for a next generation drilling program based on a riser-equipped ship. At the recent ODP Council meeting, the Japanese plans and those identified in the ODP LRP
merged into what has temporarily been named the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) for the post-2003 period.

Implementation of the IODP is in no way assured - we'll keep you updated in future issues of our newsletter. If you wish additional information on the Program, scientific results, participation, drilling results or other matters, visit the Program's home pages (see sites of interest, page 10).

Physical Oceanography

The final field phase of WOCE in the Atlantic is now well underway, and a program announcement for analysis, interpretation, modeling and synthesis (AIMS) for WOCE has been issued, with target dates coinciding with the usual dates for OSRS, August 15 and February 15, through the year 2002. Planning continues, in collaboration with other programs, for Ocean-CLIVAR, to include long-term observations that will be important both to physical oceanography and to the OCE community at large. Planning is also underway for a workshop to explore priorities for physical oceanography in general over the next 5-15 years. For further information, contact Dr. Richard Lambert or Dr. Eric Itsweire.

Oceanographic Technology
& Interdisciplinary Coordination

The OTIC Program has three main components:

1) Technology Development: The intent of this program area is to provide support for developing new instrumentation or technology that have broad applicability to ocean science research projects. Successful proposals are usually those that aim to enhance the observational, experimental, or analytical capabilities of the ocean science research community. Instruments proposed for development must have direct relevance to research activities that are normally sponsored by OSRS.

FY 1997 marks the 15th anniversary for this program area. In FY 1982, three proposals were received and three awards were made totaling $425,000. In FY 1997, over 40 proposals have been received to date and slightly over $4 million are available for technology development.

Although the Program is open to all types of instrument and technology development areas that are related to ocean science research, a substantial portion of effort and resources in recent years has gone into improving the capability to make in situ long-term observations.

The OTIC Program will again be convening a special session at the AGU Ocean Sciences Meeting, to take place in February 1998 in San Diego.

2) Coastal Ocean Processes (CoOP): CoOP is an OCE initiative to focus interdisciplinary research and interagency cooperation on the coastal zone. Both NSF and NOAA regard the Great Lakes as part of the U.S. coastal zone and recognize that many features of the Great Lakes may best be studied using oceanographic methods. In response to a one-time NSF/NOAA Announcement of Opportunity, a major 5-year initiative will start this fall for interdisciplinary, collaborative research projects to address the broad intersection of basic and applied research interests of NSF and NOAA.

Following the recommendations of the CoOP Science Steering Committee, plans are underway for developing the next CoOP research initiative on wind-driven transport processes. Copies of a relevant workshop report and other details concerning the CoOP program are available through the CoOP Office at

3) Arctic System Science (ARCSS): The OTIC program co-sponsors the Ocean-Atmosphere-Ice Interactions (OAII) component of the ARCSS global change research program. A major research project under ARCSS also gets underway this summer called SHEBA (Surface Heat Balance of the Arctic) Ocean. The SHEBA program ( will simultaneously measure, over an annual cycle, the various fluxes and properties of the atmosphere, ice pack, and upper ocean that determine the aggregate mass and energy budgets of Arctic sea ice. Its goal is improved understanding of how and to what extent, the ice covered Arctic Ocean affects climate variability in lower latitudes and in global climate models (GCMs). The research program will be conducted for 14 months from a Canadian icebreaker frozen into the Beaufort Sea ice pack.

In cooperation with Canadian scientists, an ancillary research program will be conducted during SHEBA's 14-month deployment of the drifting icebreaker. Planned projects include studies of physical oceanography, carbon cycling, contaminants, marine fish, marine mammals, and polar bears.