Our capacity for exploring and understanding the ocean is greater than it’s ever been. However, we are on the cusp of something much greater. By focusing technological advances in materials, communications, energy storage, data processing, and sensing toward the task of ocean exploration, we have the opportunity to not only advance our understanding of oceanic processes, but to accelerate the rate of our advancement. This is an exciting time of transition from campaign-style one-off observations to ubiquitous sensing. Both on land and at sea, we are making strides in our ability to deploy and remotely operate increasingly complex and power-hungry systems, like imaging systems with resolution beyond that of human vision. Meanwhile, our age of extreme connectedness, combined with energy storage, innovative sensing devices and control systems, is leading us on a path toward large-scale sensing arrays and swarms of robotic systems. The tie that binds the future of these exploratory systems are data handling, ocean modeling and visualization systems. Just as oceanic processes are interconnected, our data analysis must become multi-disciplinary. With increasingly large and disparate data sets, we must develop methods for identifying the driving systems behind environmental processes that are still poorly understood.
A matrix to track the technologies ideas in a google docs spreadsheet is here.