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Keywords:

  • infrastructure;
  • ocean

[1] The United States has jurisdiction over 3.4 million square miles of ocean—an expanse greater than the land area of all 50 states combined. This vast marine area offers researchers opportunities to investigate the ocean's role in an integrated Earth system but also presents challenges to society, including damaging tsunamis and hurricanes, industrial accidents, and outbreaks of waterborne diseases. The 2010 Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil spill and 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami are vivid reminders that a broad range of infrastructure is needed to advance scientists' still incomplete understanding of the ocean. The National Research Council's (NRC) Ocean Studies Board was asked by the National Science and Technology Council's Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology, comprising 25 U.S. government agencies, to examine infrastructure needs for ocean research in the year 2030. This request reflects concern, among a myriad of marine issues, over the present state of aging and obsolete infrastructure, insufficient capacity, growing technological gaps, and declining national leadership in marine technological development; these issues were brought to the nation's attention in 2004 by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy.