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New Funds Earmarked for Ocean Study

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is entering an exciting new era of ocean research. A massive grant from the National Science Foundation is expected to change the way ocean science is done, and greatly improve our understanding of ocean processes. VOA's Paul Sisco has more.

Woods Hole is popularly known for its underwater exploration, its discovery of new marine life forms and the mapping of vast stretches of the ocean floor.

And now its has nearly 100 million new dollars to work with -- a grant from the National Academy of Science.

Woods Hole Director James Luyten says, "This is transformative for the science, and it's bringing new technology into the field, and it will literally transform the way ocean science is done."

Woods Hole is America's premier center for ocean studies. The new grant funds underwater vessels, monitors and buoys that will beam data via satellite directly to scientists around the world. "It will measure ocean currents temperature, salinity, nutrients, actually be able to count fish," Luyten adds.

It is just one part of a massive, long-term research project turning sections of the ocean floor in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans into observation platforms.

Holly Givens is with the consortium that is administering the grant. "Traditionally, oceanographers have gone, with great expense, to sea, and only been able to do experiments over a very limited amount of time. Instead we will have permanent data coming in."

"Where this is going in the long-term,” Luyten says, “is to develop a long-term ocean observatory which can improve weather prediction, which can improve fisheries management."

Once fully established the network will allow scientists -- and anyone else who is interested -- to study ocean phenomenon continuously from any Internet connection in the world.