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John Delaney’s vision of a fiber-optic network of deep sea sensors off the west coast will become a reality with a grant awarded this week.

The University of Washington has received about $126 million from the National Science Foundation to create a cable network on the seafloor to improve ocean observations. The Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) is expected to transform ocean science research and education.

The National Science Foundation announced Wednesday the UW grant to build the Ocean Observatory. You can view the components of the OOI network in Google Earth (if Scripps fixes the link) at the OOI Tour, Endurance Array and Pioneer Array (pdf).

The university will build a regional cable network off the Pacific Northwest that will provide electrical power and communications bandwidth to instruments on the seafloor. Researchers will monitor earthquakes, ocean currents, water chemistry and other ocean processes. A continuous data flow will be provided by hundreds of sensors and integrated by a sophisticated computing network.

The NSF promises it will be openly available to scientists, policy makers, students, and the public.

The 800-km cable monitors the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate, running from a shore station in Pacific City, Oregon, out to the Juan de Fuca Ridge and south along the Cascadia subduction zone to Hydrate Ridge.

Nodes densely populated with instruments and full water column moorings will be installed at study sites west of Newport Oregon. High bandwidth data and video imagery will be transmitted in real-time via the Internet and will be accessible to users around the world, including scientists, educators, students, and decision-makers. The system will have a 25-year lifetime.

The OOI infrastructure is being built with support from the National Science Foundation, with $105.93 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The first official project year begins this month (September 2009), and will continue construction through 2014. They expect some portions of the network to provide sustained data by late 2012, with full network capability by late 2014.

The $386.4 million initiative has coastal, regional and global ocean elements. Oregon State University will join the Woods Hole in leading the coastal element. Woods Hole and Scripps will lead the global element, and the University of Washington will deploy the cabled seafloor network. UCSD’s Calit2 will manage the cyberinfrastructure while Scripps and the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) will build the computer network. “The goal is to create a semantic infrastructure that allows the research communities to collectively modify the infrastructure to fit their own needs,” said Calit2 Director Larry Smarr.

The Ocean Observatories Initiative is an NSF-funded effort to link all major ocean observing systems (pdf) using “virtual laboratories” and cloud computing to share resources.

Larry Smarr’s recent presentations (Calit2 YouTube videos), such as this one (above) from Los Alamos, explain how Calit2 and Scripp’s Center for Earth Observations and Applications, can use OptIPuter switched fiber connections for applications in geoscience and bioscience.

NOAA’s Science On a Sphere is a large visualization system that uses computers and video projectors to display animated data onto the outside of a sphere.

A SphereCast is an SOS presentation done simultaneously at multiple sites by a single presenter, via the Internet. Many sites can receive the SphereCast, but only one site is the host. In late December 2009, NOAA’s Environmental Literacy Grants will focus on informal education projects that will include support for NOAA’s Science On a Sphere and content creation (Blue Planet Script) and videos. The Hatfield Marine Center in Newport would be a logical place to host one. Visualization tutorials will be presented at SuperComputing in Portland, November 15th and 16th, 2009.

The OOI Project Team will be hosting major discussions at the AGU Annual Fall Meeting in San Francisco in December and the Ocean Sciences meeting in Portland in February.

At each workshop and meeting they will provide overviews of the OOI capabilities for addressing science questions, describe the opportunities for involvement, and discuss the process for submitting proposals to conduct research within the OOI framework.

Washington state politicians are attempting to stop the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from moving its Pacific Fleet from Seattle to Newport, Oregon.

Seattle’s Lake Union and by the Port of Bellingham are protesting the move. The Government Accountability Office has dropped an inquiry requested by the Washington Congressional Delegation, but will oversee NOAA’s response to the protests.

The Port of Newport has 21 months to build the $34 million facility that NOAA’s Pacific Fleet will call home. The move-in date is set for June 2011.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Ocean Observatories: The Ultimate Splash Page, Plug and Play Environmental Sensor Nets, Microsoft’s WhiteFi: Wi-Fi Using Whitespaces, Mobile Supercomputing, The Platform, Google Ocean Unveiled, Wireless River Monitoring, Shipboard AIS Gets a Satellite Swarm, Emergency Mapping, Cascadia Peril ‘09, Swine Flu Gets Social, Tracking Soldiers, Mapping Relief, Wildfire, MIT’s CarTel, Volcano Sensor Net, Alaskan Volcano Monitored, California Wildfires Networked, Fish Net, Wireless River Monitoring, Remote Ocean Viewer, Wireless Recon Airplanes, Mt St Helens Erupts, On Mt. Saint Helens and Global Tsunami Warning System Announced.

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