January: The Process and Nature of Science February: Evolution March: Physics and Technology April: Energy Resources May: Sustainability and the Environment June: Ocean and Water July: Astronomy August: Weather and Climate September: Biodiversity and Conservation October: Geosciences and Planet Earth November: Chemistry December: Science and Health Year of Science 2009 home page
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Ocean and Water

CBBJ with Dutch boy.jpg
Image Credit: Marijke Wilhelmus.

Downloadable resources for June theme:

Celebrate the Ocean and Water

Why are we celebrating the ocean and water?

Image Credit: Andrew Hux, Creative Commons.

Well, did you know that:

  •   71 percent of Earth's surface covered by ocean and 97% of the Earth's water is found in the ocean as salt water. Only about 2% of the earth's water is stored as fresh water in glaciers, ice caps, and snowy mountain ranges
  •   99% of Earth's living space is water and almost every known phyla is represented in the ocean and waterways
  •   Only 1% of the earth's water available to us for our daily water supply needs and Americans drink more than one billion glasses of tap water per day
  •   60-70% of your body weight is water. Your brain is about 70% water, and lungs almost 90% water

Earth truly is the Water Plant and the water we share is always on the move. The rain that filled the reservoir where you live may have been water in the ocean just days before. And the water you see in a river or stream may have been snow on a high mountaintop. Think of all the places the water coming out of your faucet has been! Understanding that we all share and enjoy the same watershed should give us reason to appreciate and protect the water that we have and use every day.

We have a winner for the Jellyfish Species Naming Contest!

In 2006, a young girl was stung while swimming at a Caribbean beach and wound up in the hospital. What stung her? That is our question and why we wanted your ideas and your votes! But the voting period is over and now you can see the results. Thanks to all who participated. You can also learn more about BBBJ and the process. Video contributed by Johan van Blerk


Meet RICHARD SPINRAD and comment upon his thoughts on CELEBRATING the OCEAN AND WATER!!

Dr. Richard Spinrad, NOAA Assistant Administrator for Research, embodies the notion that good science informs good policy. Co-chair of the White House Joint Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology, he helped lead the publication of our Nation's first Ocean Research Priorities Plan. He has worked in a wide range of positions in government, academia, industry, and non-governmental organizations. A Past President of The Oceanography Society, editor of a textbook on ocean optics, and Editor in Chief of Oceanography magazine, he has spent over 300 days at sea conducting research and has published more than 50 scientific articles.

Read Richard's Posts

The Last Frontier

By: Richard Spinrad

Image Credit: OLDSKOOLDAVE, Creative Commons.

When I started thinking about this blog entry, there was a quote by a preeminent oceanographer, the late Dr. Roger Revelle from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which resonated with me. Back in 1992, Dr. Revelle made the statement, "we know less about the ocean's bottom than we do about the moon's backside."

Systematic ocean exploration in the United States began in 1807 when Thomas Jefferson authorized the Survey of the Coast, NOAA's earliest predecessor. Despite research and technological advances, 95 percent of the ocean remains unexplored. Why do we need to explore the ocean? Well, if my blog from two weeks ago, How Oceanography Saved the World, didn't convince you, think about this: all life on Earth relies on the ocean--an ocean that provides oxygen and regulates global temperature to make the Earth livable. Other ocean benefits include food, energy, and transportation.

NOAA is the lead federal agency in an initiative to explore the ocean frontier. NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research coordinates this effort by supporting expeditions and projects and developing ocean sensors and systems for the purpose of discovery and the advancement of knowledge. You can follow their missions on the award-winning Ocean Explorer web site.

Imagine the exciting discoveries that will be made by the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, "America's Ship for Ocean Exploration." The Okeanos Explorer is on course to be the only U.S. ship assigned to systematically explore our largely unknown ocean for the purpose of discovery and the advancement of knowledge, and for the first time, you will be able to witness these discoveries from your own home. Telepresence technology, using real-time broadband satellite communications, will bring the exciting discoveries to scientists and students from Narragansett to Nairobi to Nagasaki. This technology will give shore-based explorers of all ages access to the excitement of real-time discovery, and will help inspire a new generation of oceanographers, scientists, and engineers.

Telepresence is the key technology that promises to revolutionize ocean exploration. Traditionally, scientists explore the ocean from the ship. In contrast, telepresence will bring the ship and its discoveries to scientists. When situated at any of the five Exploration Command Centers, scientists also can interact directly with the Okeanos Explorer and participate remotely in each mission.

Last week, I mentioned the role of technology in ocean research. On May 31, a deep-sea robotic vehicle called Nereus successfully visited the deepest part of the world's ocean, Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. At nearly 11,000 meters - over a mile deeper than Mount Everest is high - Challenger Deep is one of the most remote locations on Earth, and the Nereus is now the only vehicle in existence that can reach that depth. Building a vehicle that can withstand pressures 1,000 times that at Earth's surface was in immense technical challenge, and in building the Nereus, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has made it possible to explore such hostile environments.

Through exploration and research, we will develop a much-improved understanding of not only what our ocean resources are, but what the limitations are on their availability. In that regard, our consideration of the oceans as a more viable source of food, energy, biomedical products, and materials will grow dramatically; as will our understanding of how to harness these resources in a sustainable or renewable fashion. Just as new energy sources, such as deposits of methane in the ocean bottom, were unexpected and unreported until very late in the 20th century, we should expect additional discoveries of valuable products and materials from the sea in the years to come.

By exploring the ocean frontier, we will advance our understanding of ocean resources and will help in our utilization of these resources for the benefit of mankind, in an environmentally sound framework.

Find out how much you know about the undersea world. Team up with players around the globe to solve the Ocean Challenge Puzzle.

The following organizations contributed content to this theme:

Paleobio Consortium for Ocean LeadershipNational Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationEncyclopedia of LifeRAFT

The Sloan Career Cornerstone Center Cnidarian Tree of Life Flat Stanley Project Environmental Protection Agency

To learn more about how your organization can contribute content to the Year of Science Web site, please contact us at admin@copusproject.org.