Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

Conference peeks into the past and future of ocean science


  • Randy Showstack


During the past 50 fifty years, oceanographic research in the United States has birthed many landmark discoveries and programs that have changed our perception of the seas, how they work, and how mankind interacts with them. During these decades, ocean science also drifted through the Cold War as a frequent and strategic partner with the military, and then largely was weaned away from that source of funding as the National Science Foundation (NSF) became perhaps the principle supporter for the science.

Speakers at a NSF conference held in Washington, D.C. in October reviewed some of these achievements, as well as anecdotal remembrances of programs, priorities, and personalities that have shaped ocean sciences over the past five decades, since NSF was founded in 1950. Speakers also peeked into the future of oceanography and significant affects it has on climate, coastal processes, human health, and other societal concerns.