The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) requests funding for R/V Oceanus operations in support of scientific research funded by the National Science Foundation. The proposed operations aboard the Oceanus will provide 12 different principal investigators with access to the sea on 15 different legs. Ninety-two percent (92%) of the 255 operating days scheduled on Oceanus will support NSF programs; other funding sources support the remainder of the year's schedule. This is a five year cooperative agreement, and funding each year will be based upon the number of days at sea in support of NSF funded research programs.
Samples of some of the major scientific themes the cruises on The Oceanus will support may be summarized as follows: 1.) Focus on the Hatteras Front and the central role it plays in shoreward and seaward cross-shelf transport in the coastal ocean. 2.) Support a cruise with a focus on the new production of organic matter and photosynthetic uptake of CO2 as it affects the global carbon cycle. 3.) Conduct mooring operations to help understand the sources of harmful algal blooms and the physical processes that influence their transport and fate in the Gulf of Maine. 4.) A physical oceanography cruise will build understanding of the mechanisms and rates of North Atlantic Deep Water export to lower latitudes. 5.) June-August will find the Oceanus focusing on a 4-leg program researching phytoplankton response to upwelling and mixing in the Sargasso Sea. Intellectual Merit The ship days requested in this proposal are required for the fieldwork of 11 NSF research projects. These projects have been rigorously evaluated for scientific and intellectual merit as an integral part of the NSF proposal and award process. The highly competitive nature of the award granting process ensures a very high level of intellectual merit. The knowledge gained and the discoveries made by the research programs supported by Oceanus will enhance our understanding of the oceans and address a broad range of important scientific questions. The Oceanus will provide researchers with the equipment, and skilled shipboard personnel, required to safely and productively pursue their scientific endeavors at sea. The research programs supported by Oceanus in 2005 will be important in understanding the Earth's climate and how it changes over time, determining ocean current circulation and transport, investigating ocean ecosystem dynamics, quantifying ocean and atmosphere exchange, and testing new marine seismic instrumentation. These intellectual endeavors will continue to broaden our understanding of the oceans, spur new questions, and confirm scientific theory for years to come, benefiting society at large.
Broad Impact Statement An oceanographic expedition is in many respects an extension of the University classroom. A diverse mix of senior and junior scientists, post-doctoral investigators, engineers, technicians and graduate and undergraduate students typically staff Oceanus legs. These cruises are extraordinary educational experiences that expose participants to new ideas, teach fundamental scientific principles through observation and practice, and inevitably raise questions that stimulate new thinking about how the oceans work. Over the past several years an increased awareness of our responsibility to bring science into the classroom and to the general public has resulted in the development of new avenues to share these scientific findings. The cruise web site concept has been very effective in reaching the classroom with real-time images and two-way communication between scientists and students in schools across the country. This effectively extends the sea-going experience from the handful of participants on a single leg to thousands of students in classrooms across the country, as well as to the general public. The WHOI web site (www.whoi.edu) has pioneered efforts to present the results of research expeditions and sea-going projects to the general public (e.g. the Dive and Discover web site: http://science.whoi.edu/DiveDiscover), and we are continuing to develop new ways of using the WHOI web site to convey the excitement and importance of sea-going research to a larger audience.
This grant provided the funds to operate the R/V Oceanus from January 2005 through June 2012. In 2012, operational responsibility for R/V Oceanus transitioned from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to Oregon State University. During the seven years of this project, R/V Oceanus traveled thousands of miles conducting science in many of the worldâ€™s oceans and seas. Operational areas over these years included the north and south Atlantic Ocean and the Red, Mediterranean, and Caribbean Seas. The operational ship time supported by this project brought over 75 NSF research teams to sea to conduct sampling and experimentation. An oceanographic expedition is in many respects an extension of the University classroom. R/V Oceanus voyages were staffed by a diverse mix of senior and junior scientists, post-doctoral investigators, engineers, technicians and graduate and undergraduate students. These cruises were extraordinary educational experiences that exposed all participants to new ideas, taught fundamental scientific principles through observation and practice, and inevitably raised questions that stimulated new thinking about how the oceans work. These peer-reviewed projects were rigorously evaluated for scientific and intellectual merit as an integral part of the NSF grant review and award process. The highly competitive nature of the award granting process ensured a very high level of intellectual merit was supported by the ship time provided in this project. The knowledge gained and the discoveries made by the research programs supported by R/V Oceanus enhanced the understanding of the oceans and addressed a broad range of important questions in all the scientific disciplines. These broader impacts were achieved through the reliability and effectiveness of the R/V Oceanus which was maintained and operated by a highly trained and experienced crew. The missions of R/V Oceanus provided important findings in such areas as the Earthâ€™s climate, ocean current circulation and transport, ocean ecosystem dynamics, and ocean and atmosphere exchange. R/V Oceanus was also an effective platform for testing new marine seismic and water sampling instrumentation. These intellectual endeavors broadened the understanding of the oceans, spurred new questions, and confirmed scientific theory, benefiting society at large. Effective use of satellite communications to stream video and reach the internet from R/V Oceanus brought real-time images and two-way communication between scientists and students at schools across the country.