It has been a significant year for Ocean Leadership. We have accomplished much and look forward to thriving in this sea of change in 2016. I am Rear Admiral Jon White, a recently retired Naval Oceanographer who retired from the Navy in October 2015. I am currently Vice President of Ocean Leadership, and I will be leading our Ocean Leadership senior management team on an interim basis in light of Sherri’s departure.
Ocean Leadership initiated and advanced several key ocean science areas in 2015, and our current programs are doing quite well. The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI), National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) and Interagency Ocean Observation Committee (IOOC) program office all had a successful and productive year, and continue to advance ocean science and technology research, education and partnerships. The Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) officially moved from the construction phase to the operations and maintenance phase of the program. In mid-December, the OOI launched its new website and made all OOI Cruise Data available to the public –a momentous, groundbreaking milestone for the global ocean community! Key resources on the new website include the OOI Data page detailing individual data tools, data products, and quality control information; the Researchers page where scientists can learn more about submitting OOI-related proposals, science workshops, and the observation and sampling approach; and The Observatory page detailing all infrastructure, instruments, and technology used in the OOI. This successful achievement is a testament to the hard work of everyone involved. In 2016, the program will continue to monitor and enhance systems and data streams toward optimal functionality and quality.
New ocean science partnerships and collaborations were also a focus for Ocean Leadership in 2015. In October, we hosted an Industry Forum to identify opportunities for increased collaboration between academic ocean science entities and industry. The well-attended Forum explored workforce development; ocean observations; technology development and implementation; and offshore energy development and led to establishing key areas for further joint exploration and possible project development. Ocean Leadership also began the Oceans and National Security Initiative (ONSI), with the first meeting planned for early 2016. While the impacts of a healthy, prosperous ocean on myriad aspects of national security are understood by many within the ocean community, this understanding must be propagated across the national security community and policy-makers. International collaboration was another focus area for Ocean Leadership in 2015. We created the joint Ocean Climate Nexus Statement with the European Marine Board, highlighting the critical role of ocean science as part of the societal response to climate change in advance of the COP-21 negotiations in Paris. I call upon all members of the geoscience communities to help us reinforce the importance of ocean research to improved understanding (and prediction) of our complex, changing climate.
We closed out the year on a positive note with the release of the FY16 omnibus appropriations bill, which contained strong support for the ocean and geosciences. The House language defunding geosciences was removed from the final bill, allowing for the $100 million increase in the NSF’s Research line to also increase geoscience funding. The omnibus increased NASA funding by $700 million, NOAA saw increases with the top line at $5.76 billion, and Navy Research also received significant increases. Lastly, the omnibus included a version of Senator Whitehouse’s National Oceans and Coastal Security Act, establishing an Ocean Trust Fund.
With that I would like to wish you a Happy New Year from all of us here at Ocean Leadership. Here’s to a 2016 filled with countless successes for the field of ocean science. May the forces that drive ocean dynamics be with all of you…in a good way.
Jonathan W. White, RADM, USN (ret.); M.S.
President and CEO
Consortium for Ocean Leadership
Member highlight: A new study offers strategic guidance on the placement of marine protected areas to meet global conservation goals. Thousands of marine species with mapped locations worldwide remain largely unprotected, according to a new study by a team of international marine scientists, including UC Santa Barbara’s Ben Halpern.