Sea Discovery

U.S., Canada Partnership Expands Ocean Research

U.S.-Canada collaboration on ocean research took a step as Robert Gagosian, president and CEO of Consortium for Ocean Leadership, and Martin Taylor, president and CEO of Ocean Networks Canada, signed a Memorandum of Understanding pledging to work closely together as they manage and operate world-leading ocean observing systems.
Ocean Leadership administers the United States Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) and Ocean Networks Canada manages the NEPTUNE Canada and VENUS ocean observatories in the north-east Pacific. The OOI, NEPTUNE Canada, and VENUS support transformative ocean research using innovative submarine cable systems, which for the first time bring power and the Internet under the ocean to support continuous, long-term measurement of ocean processes at a regional scale.
“In this case, the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts,” observes Taylor. “Working independently, there’s no doubt that the Canadian and US teams would make significant contributions to our scientific understanding of the ocean. But by working together, we’ll be able to provide scientists with a wider breadth of capabilities and ongoing insights, helping to accelerate transformational advances in ocean sciences.”
The ocean covers more than 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface and directly affects people’s quality of life around the globe. Yet, our knowledge of the ocean remains limited. Now more than ever, we need an in-depth understanding of complex ocean processes, hazards, and phenomena such as earthquakes and tsunamis, climate change, and ocean acidification. We need to leverage the best that technology has to offer to fundamentally augment ship- and satellite-based approaches to ocean science, in order to transform our understanding of how the ocean works.
The OOI, NEPTUNE Canada, and VENUS combine continuous power, remotely operated sensors and instruments, and the streaming of continuous data via sophisticated computing networks and the Internet to scientists, policymakers, students, and the general public.
“These networks will radically change the rate and scale of ocean data collection”, notes Gagosian, “and thereby the range and complexity of questions that can be answered by ocean scientists.” Tim Cowles, OOI program director, adds that “the availability of this high-quality data will play an invaluable role in helping scientists to track climate, evaluate ecosystem change, and address other critical ocean processes.”
The OOI network is being installed in critical areas of the open and coastal ocean, with hundreds of sensors extending from the seafloor, through the waters of the ocean, up to where sea and sky meet. Construction of the OOI began in late 2009 and will be completed in 2014.
NEPTUNE Canada, located on the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate off the coast of British Columbia, became operational in late 2009. As the world’s first regional-scale, cabled deep-ocean observatory, NEPTUNE Canada provides unprecedented access into the ocean’s depths. VENUS operates two cabled observatories in coastal waters near Victoria and Vancouver, supporting studies of ocean processes and marine ecology.

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