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Automated Sensor Networks to Advance Ocean Science

Schofield, O., S. Glenn, J. Orcutt, M. Arrott, M. Meisinger, A. Gangopadhyay, W. Brown, R. Signell, M. Moline, Y. Chao, S. Chien, D. Thompson, A. Balasuriya, P.F.J. Lermusiaux and M. Oliver, 2010. Automated Sensor Networks to Advance Ocean Science. EOS, Vol. 91, No. 39, 28 September 2010.

Oceanography is evolving from a ship-based expeditionary science to a distributed, observatory- based approach in which scientists continuously interact with instruments in the field. These new capabilities will facilitate the collection of long- term time series while also providing an interactive capability to conduct experiments using data streaming in real time. The U.S. National Science Foundation has funded the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI), which over the next 5 years will deploy infrastructure to expand scientists’ ability to remotely study the ocean. The OOI is deploying infrastructure that spans global, regional, and coastal scales. A global component will address planetary- scale problems using a new network of moored buoys linked to shore via satellite telecommunications. A regional cabled observatory will “wire” a single region in the northeastern Pacific Ocean with a high-speed optical and power grid. The coastal component will expand existing coastal observing assets to study the importance of high-frequency forcing on the coastal environment. These components will be linked by a robust cyberinfrastructure (CI) that will integrate marine observatories into a coherent system of systems. This CI infrastructure will also provide a Web- based social network enabled by real- time visualization and access to numerical model information, to provide the foundation for adaptive sampling science. Thus, oceanographers will have access to automated machine-to-machine sensor networks that can be scalable to increase in size and incorporate new technology for decades to come. A case study of this CI in action shows how a community of ocean scientists and engineers located throughout the United States at 12 different institutions used the automated ocean observatory to address daily adaptive science priorities in real time.