The Ocean Science Division of the National Science Foundation has supported a Major Research Equipment Facilities Construction effort, the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) to build a host of instrumented sensing systems in portions of the ocean proximal to the Western Hemisphere. Goals of the program are to establish an enduring presence within the ocean to make long-term measurements of crucial processes that can inform scientists, educators, and the public about essential ocean processes that are ever-changing. In support of NSF, the OOI is managed by the OOI Project Office at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL).
Most of the OOI installations will be linked with limited bandwidth, by satellite, to users on shore. One installation, the Cabled Array off the coast of Washington and Oregon, is linked by submarine electro-optical cables providing unprecedented high speed, two-way communications and abundant electrical power to selected sites deemed scientifically important by members of the ocean science community prior to the onset of construction in 2009.
The embedded figure indicates the location of the cabled system off the North American west coast, as well as the actual experimental sites (Primary Nodes) for long-term studies of processes ranging from currents, to temperatures, to compositions and behavior of the ocean water above the seafloor, as well as the tectonic and volcanic activity associated with offshore plate tectonics. Upon completion of the entire OOI construction program in June 2015, all data from all systems will be provided to all interested parties with access to the Internet.