"Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors."

-Jonas Salk

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ocean Observatories Initiative

Progress toward glasnost. This from my email this morning; emphasis added.

The National Science Foundation has committed ~$700 million over 6 years for construction and early operation of the Ocean Observatories Initiative. This novel infrastructure, with a design life of 25 years, will forever transform how oceanography is conducted and the science that can be addressed. In addition to making much needed high latitude and coastal measurements, supported by relatively low bandwidth satellite communications systems, one of the most transformative pieces of this initiative will be the electro-optically submarine cabled observing systems implemented off the coast of Washington and Oregon. This system, the first of many cabled observing networks, will create a large aperture ‘natural laboratory’ for conducting a wide range of long-term, innovative experiments within the ocean using real-time control over the entire laboratory system.


More than 800 km of submarine cable will deliver 10’s of kilowatts of power to seafloor nodes that provide power and 10 Gigabit/sec connectivity between land and arrays of sensors and platforms on the seafloor and throughout the water column. Networked arrays of seafloor sensors will be focused on processes associated with earthquakes, seafloor volcanism, and hydrothermal vents and gas hydrate deposits with their associated biological communities. In addition, state-of-the-art full-water column moorings will include instrumented profilers and winches that allow real-time investigation of climate change, ocean acidification and biogeochemical processes in an area of coastal upwelling and high productivity. The infrastructure will be adaptable, expandable, and exportable and will empower creativity within a broad spectrum of investigators for incorporation of next-generation sensors, robotic and autonomous vehicles, and other novel platforms.

The University of Washington is leading the installation and operation of the cabled component of the NSF Initiative, known as the Regional Scale Nodes. The data policy calls for all information to be made available to all interested users via the Internet (with the exception of information bearing on National Security).


Anonymous said...

"The data policy calls for all information to be made available to all interested users via the Internet (with the exception of information bearing on National Security)."

Double good! Just think how much hot air would have been saved from the atmosphere if that policy had prevailed at ... well, you know where!

David Duff

Michael Tobis said...

No argument this time; agreed.

Hank Roberts said...

> you know where

At the companies and countries that provided it only for limited use with restrictions against sharing it.

Yep. Capitalism does have its problems compared to everything being free to everybody.

Here's a similar example -- it would appear there are no ships near Somalia.
Can you think of any reason that information might be unavailable? I understand it's this kind of ship tracking that is used to compile some of the ocean temperature and weather data sets, but shippers don't release information that would let anyone figure out exactly where to find the ships, around Somalia.

Vinny Burgoo said...

Hank, what a beautiful map! It doesn't support your point, though. The data is supplied by volunteers who collect Automatic Identification System signals and send them via the Interweb to a central server operated by the University of the Aegean. The map is made by hackers, if you like.

AIS signals have a range of only 15-20 miles, so to get even partial coverage of the Gulf of Aden and the Somali coast (and the north coast of Java etc), you'd need suitably equipped volunteers operating in the pirate havens. (Arrrr!) I'm sure there are people monitoring AIS signals in those areas but they probably aren't very interesting in contributing to an 'academic, open, community-based project'.

You're right to say that ships transiting pirate waters don't generally broadcast their locations (they allow the AIS to transmit only their IDs or switch the thing off entirely) but that's not analogous with climatologists withholding their data from 'auditors' etc. This is live data, analogous to field dendros broadcasting new tree cores live from some godforsaken corner of Siberia. Ships recording weather info for the VOS programmme have no need to keep their courses from public view once the danger has passed. Nor do they:


Thanks anyway for pointing to the map. Another source of beautiful but (to me) wholly useless information.