Tuesday, April 26, 2011

National Research Council Recommends Climate Change and Other Research Plans for the Oceans

The National Research Council (NRC), part of the National Academies of Sciences, has issued a report recommending several actions related to ocean research.  According to the report, "the United States has jurisdiction over 3.4 million square miles of ocean in its exclusive economic zone," which "represents a prime national domain for activities such as maritime transportation, national security, energy and mineral extraction, fisheries and aquaculture, and tourism and recreation." But the NRC notes that "the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami are vivid reminders that ocean activities and processes have direct human implications both nationally and worldwide, understanding of the ocean system is still incomplete, and ocean research infrastructure is needed to support both fundamental research and societal priorities."

The report, Critical Infrastructure for Ocean Research and Societal Needs in 2030, "identifies major research questions anticipated to be at the forefront of ocean science in 2030 based on national and international assessments, input from the worldwide scientific community, and ongoing research planning activities." It "defines categories of infrastructure that should be included in planning for the nation's ocean research infrastructure of 2030 and that will be required to answer the major research questions of the future."
Ocean research infrastructure supports both fundamental and applied scientific research that addresses urgent societal concerns such as climate change, human health, domestic offshore energy production, national security, marine shipping, tsunami detection and severe storm tracking, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture growth, and changes in marine ecosystem services. However, significant components of national infrastructure are aged, obsolete, or insufficient to meet growing societal demand for scientific information to enable safe, efficient, and environmentally sustainable use of the ocean. A comprehensive range of ocean research infrastructure will be needed to overcome these challenges, and more interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research will require a growing suite of infrastructure.

The report can be ordered from the National Academy Press.  A summary and a "report in brief" can also be read online or downloaded as a PDF file.

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