The requested funding will be used to continue providing guidance on major ocean-related science, engineering, and policy issues to the federal ocean agencies, including the National Science Foundation. The Ocean Studies Board (OSB) is the focal point within the NRC for ocean-related science, engineering, and policy issues. The board explores the science, policies, and infrastructure needed to understand, manage, protect, and restore coastal and marine environments and resources. The board exercises leadership within the ocean community by helping identify and communicate the needs of the field, responds to specific requests from government agencies and Congress, and oversees a variety a study projects related to ocean science and engineering and their impacts on policy. The operations of OSB are funded by a number of federal agencies, including the U.S. Navy, NOAA, USGS, MMS, and NASA.

Broader Impacts

The OSB strives to increase public awareness of ocean issues, to support ocean science education, and to enhance the dissemination and impact of OSB reports. The OSB also supports the recruitment of minorities into the earth sciences through participation in mentoring and fellowship programs. To further outreach and dissemination, the OSB prepares a 2-4 page nontechnical overview of each new report that is broadly distributed in print and electronically. In addition, the booklets that comprise the Ocean Science Series are intended to help readers interpret information about the state of our oceans and to better understand the role of ocean science.

Project Report

The National Academies’ National Research Council (NRC) enlists the nation’s foremost scientists, engineers, health professionals, and other experts to address the scientific and technical aspects of society’s most pressing problems. The results of studies are documented in peer-reviewed, published NRC reports. NRC reports are viewed as being valuable and credible because of their reputation for providing advice with high standards of scientific and technical quality and independence. Within the NRC, the Ocean Studies Board (OSB) serves as the oversight body for studies that explore the science, policies, and infrastructure needed to understand, manage, and conserve coastal and marine environments and resources. In addition to exercising leadership within the ocean community, the Board undertakes studies at the request of federal agencies, Congress, or other sponsors, or upon its own initiative. OSB meetings serve as an opportunity for dialog among scientists in academia, government, and the private sector to explore emerging ocean issues.The board organizes briefings on new reports for the sponsors, Congress, and the public. All report and dissemination materials are available through the OSB web site: Highlights of selected reports from the OSB (2010-2012) are provided below: Sea-Level Rise for the Coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington: Past, Present, and Future (2012) Tide gages show that global sea level has risen about 7 inches during the 20th century, and recent satellite data shows that the rate of sea-level rise is accelerating. Sea-level rise poses enormous risks to the valuable infrastructure, development, and wetlands that line much of the 1,600 mile shoreline of California, Oregon, and Washington. Sea level along the west coast is affected by a number of factors, including climate patterns such as the El Niño, melting of ice sheets, and geologic processes, such as plate tectonics. An earthquake magnitude 8 or larger, which occurs in the region every 100 to 1,000 years, would cause the land to drop and sea level to suddenly rise. Scientific Ocean Drilling: Accomplishments and Challenges (2011) Through direct exploration of the subseafloor, U.S.-supported scientific ocean drilling programs have significantly contributed to a broad range of scientific accomplishments in Earth science disciplines, shaping understanding of Earth systems and enabling new fields of inquiry. The science plan for the proposed 2013-2023 program presents a strong case for the continuation of scientific ocean drilling. Prioritizing science plan challenges and integrating multiple objectives into single expeditions would help use resources more effectively.The Ocean Studies Board produced a booklet on scientific ocean drilling accomplishments for a general interest audience that is available on the website: Assessing Requirements for Sustained Ocean Color Research and Operations (2011) Monitoring phytoplankton abundance through satellite ocean color data can help track changes in the abundance and productivity of phytoplankton (microscopic marine plants form the base of the marine food chain). This information can be used to assess long-term climate changes, evaluate potential fisheries production, and detect harmful algal blooms, among other uses. However, sensors planned for satellites to replace the existing fleet might not have the accuracy necessary for climate research. The report identifies ways to minimize the risk of losing access to research-quality ocean color data. Critical Infrastructure for Ocean Research and Societal Needs in 2030 (2011) U.S. ocean research depends on a broad range of ocean infrastructure assets—the national inventory of ships and other platforms, sensors and samplers, computational and data systems, supporting facilities, and trained personnel. A growing suite of infrastructure will be needed to address urgent societal issues in coming years, such as climate change, offshore energy production, tsunami detection, and sustainable fisheries. In order to ensure that essential infrastructure is available for fundamental research and issues of social importance in 2030, a coordinated national plan for making future strategic investments will be necessary. Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean (2010) The ocean has absorbed a significant portion of all human-made carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon dioxide taken up by the ocean decreases the pH of the water and leads to a suite of chemical changes collectively known as ocean acidification. The long term consequences of ocean acidification are not known, but are expected to result in changes to many ecosystems and the services they provide to society. More information is needed to fully understand and address the threat that ocean acidification may pose to marine ecosystems and the services they provide. A global observation network of chemical and biological sensors will be needed to monitor changes in ocean conditions due to acidification. In addition to the report, a booklet - Ocean Acidification: Starting with the Science - is available in hard copy or as a pdf download from OSB’s web page on ocean acidification:

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE)
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Program Officer
Kandace S. Binkley
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National Academy of Sciences
United States
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