Stations in the Seas; December 2008; Scientific American Magazine; by Barbara Juncosa; 2 Page(s)
To study the oceans, scientists rely on a network of orbiting satellites and surface vessels. But space-borne instru-ments cannot penetrate the inky surface, and ship time remains expensive and scarce. These frustrations, compounded by the growing need to understand glob-al changes, have spurred researchers to design the Ocean Observatories Initia-tive (OOI)¿a $330-million project that promises to herald the next generation of oceanographic study.
At the heart of the OOI lies an infra-structure expected to operate for 25 to 30 years. Truly comprehending the world¿s waters and how they react to cli-mate change requires observations span-ning decades, says Uwe Send, a physical oceanographer at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif. But because many important events happen suddenly, such as storms, red tides and earthquakes, permanent sensors must be ready to capture them.