The National Science Foundation sponsored Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) will construct a network of science-driven sensor systems to measure the physical, chemical, geological, and biological variables in the ocean and seafloor. Greater knowledge of these variables is vital for improved detection and forecasting of environmental changes and their effects on biodiversity, coastal ecosystems, and climate.
The Pacific Northwest component of the coastal observatory called the Endurance Array, operated by Oregon State University, will place a series of long-term moorings off the Northwest coast. It will include a network of undersea gliders that can be programmed to patrol the near-shore waters and collect a variety of data and transmit it to onshore laboratories.
The construction of the infrastructure began September 1, 2009 and will continue for 5 years. Current operations and maintenance planning are based on a 25-year life span.
OSU is partnering with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to develop, install, and operate the combined coastal and global observatories. Woods Hole will provide the overall administrative leadership and engineering for the project and will implement a separate coastal observatory on the shelf break off of the northeast coast of the United States. Scripps and Woods Hole will combine to implement global scale elements of the observatory.
The OOI is a multi-scale observatory, comprising three levels of marine observations (coastal, regional, and global) that are integrated by an overarching cyberinfrastructure. The OOI observatories and subsystems include:
Leadership: The Consortium for Ocean Leadership is leading the implementation of OOI and is located in Washington, D.C.
Two coastal observing facilities:
Regional Scale Nodes (RSN): A cabled network of interconnected sites and sensors on the seafloor spanning multiple geological and oceanographic features and processes. The RSN also provides power and bandwidth to the Endurance Array at two locations. It is implemented and operated by University of Washington.
Global Scale Nodes (GSN): Autonomous moored buoy platforms at four deep water, high-latitude locations are key to capturing large-scale ocean-atmosphere coupling where there has been little or no previous sustained coverage. These are implemented and operated by WHOI and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
CyberInfrastructure (CI): OOI systems are integrated through the CI, which provides connectivity to scientists and classrooms, and allows the OOI to function as a single, secure, integrated network. Implemented and operated by University of California, San Diego.