CORVALLIS, Ore. - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has given a five-year grant of at least $2.5 million to Oregon State University to establish its first Cooperative Institute for Oceanographic Satellite Studies.
OSU's College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences will administer the grant, which could expand to as much as nearly $21 million. COAS has become an international leader in the use of satellite technology to study the world's oceans, and its advanced computing network for marine research is one of the most sophisticated of its kind in the world.
The grant establishes a partnership between the university and NOAA to develop a wide-ranging research program that will help the federal agency improve its operations, according to Mark Abbott, dean of the OSU college.
"What the institute will do is allow our faculty to collaborate more closely with NOAA to create a focal point for satellite-based oceanographic research," Abbott said. "The use of satellites to study the oceans, coastlines and climate has tremendous potential, and we've only begun to scratch the surface of that research."
"We will be able to create an enormous baseline of data that will have implications for climate modeling and prediction, a better understanding of El Nino and La Nina influences, tsunami and storm research, and the impact of currents and erosion on the coast and coastal communities," he added.
Among the goals of the new Cooperative Institute for Oceanographic Satellite Studies (CIOSS):
- Promote greater use of satellite oceanographic data in ocean and climate research projects;
- Develop technology and techniques supporting the highest quality environmental prediction and assessment products;
- Improve the use of satellite oceanographic data in environmental prediction models;
- Promote the availability of satellite-derived environmental data and information through full and open access and exchange; and
- Provide national and global leadership in civilian oceanography through the development of new satellite oceanographic sensors, applications and education.
Ultimately, the public will reap the benefits of the new cooperative institute through increased knowledge of the world's oceans and climates and how they interrelate, officials say.
"The goal of this institute is to help unlock some of the mysteries of the climate and ocean that will lead to better forecasting and monitoring products through increased use of data," said Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.
OSU President Tim White emphasized the role of CIOSS in improving our understanding of coastal oceans. "This new institute will continue our long partnership with NOAA and bring the power of remote sensing to the study of our nation's coastal ocean and its links to the deep ocean and atmosphere," he said.
A division of NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service funds four other cooperative institutes in atmospheric sciences, but the program at OSU is the first with an emphasis on the coastal ocean.
Abbott said the initial focus of the institute's research would be the California Current system, which roughly parallels the West Coast of the United States within 500 miles of the coast and greatly influences the weather of a huge area.
"Some of the prediction models and products that we develop for that system will have applications to other coastal regions of the U.S. and the world," Abbott said.
The five-year grant will provide funds of at least $500,000 each year. However, additional proposals to NOAA could increase this amount to $5 million annually in the final four years of the grant. The grant is renewable for another six years, after which OSU will have the opportunity to compete again for the funding for another extended period.
The National Research Council has rated OSU's College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences as one of the top five oceanographic institutions in the nation.