Tuesday, 11 February 2003: 2:30 PM
NOS Perspective on Educational and Training Resource Requirements for Operational Oceanography
NOAA’s National Ocean Service is involved in a variety of operational oceanographic endeavors ranging from monitoring of water quality and ecosystem indicators to real-time delivery of meteorological and oceanographic data for safe and efficient navigation to development and implementation of physical and ecological forecasting techniques and systems. Examples of existing capabilities include the National Estuarine Research Reserves, the National Water Level Network, the Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System, operational numerical water level and current forecast systems in the Chesapeake Bay and the Port of New York and New Jersey, response to hazardous materials spills, and the dissemination of harmful algal bloom reports for the Gulf of Mexico. Existing and future operational NOS activities require people with a wide variety of skills, training and education. There is a compelling need for MS and BS-level people schooled in the “operational” aspects of oceanography and there are very few university marine science programs willing to step up to this challenge at this time. In addition, operational oceanography cannot exist without a closely linked applied research and development component and this requires PhD-level expertise. However, most oceanographic PhD programs in the U.S. do not emphasize the applied aspects of the skills needed in NOS. Operational oceanography requires attention to many of the less glamorous qualities of an end-to-end operational system, from the definition of requirements (e.g. don’t build it if there is no real demand for it), to development of the technical components, to programming and writing of scripts to maintain a 24x7 operation, to agreement on standardized digital formats, and to delivery and dissemination of products in a variety of ways (e.g. web; GIS; telephone; etc.). From the more glossy aspects of development to the more mundane aspects of 24x7 operations, university curricula must be developed to meet the operational oceanography needs of NOS' as well as the private sector.