OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Public Forum Thursday in Newport to Address Ocean Observation

03/12/2008

NEWPORT, Ore. – The importance of ocean observation systems for the central Oregon coast and elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest is the focus of a public forum on Thursday, March 13, by researchers from Oregon State University.

The forum, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7 p.m. in the Hatfield Marine Science Center’s Visitor Center.

Jack Barth, Bob Collier and other researchers from OSU’s College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences will describe the university’s leadership in a new national Ocean Observatories Initiative. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the initiative would create a Pacific Northwest coastal observatory, led by OSU, which would include a series of permanent moorings off the coast, as well as a network of undersea gliders that can be programmed to patrol near-shore waters and collect a variety of important data.

These ocean observing systems are being developed globally to improve weather forecasts, monitor climate change, understand marine resource dynamics and restore healthy ecosystems, promote maritime safety, reduce public health risks, and enable sustained use of ocean and coastal resources, according to Ken Hall, program manager for the Hatfield Marine Science Center.

Thursday’s forum is co-sponsored by the Port of Newport and the Yaquina Bay Economic Foundation, a non-profit local community economic development group. Hall said both groups have signaled support for Newport being able to deliver a host of public and private services in support of ocean observing activities in the Pacific Northwest.

"Yaquina Bay is a natural site for these activities," said George Boehlert, director of the Hatfield Marine Science Center. "It has a natural geographic advantage for access to the ocean; the scientific expertise of OSU, the Hatfield Center, and the state and federal agencies in Newport; and public support for development of enhanced port infrastructure.

“Newport's fishing industry cooperates with scientific efforts and makes very good use of the data that will come from ocean observation," he added.

For further information the public forum, contact the Hatfield Marine Science Center at 541-867-0212.