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Major Activities

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“We must create an IOOS system-of-systems that is operationally reliable, financially sustainable, politically defensible, and technologically extensible and evolvable.”
  • Dr. Richard Spinrad, Chairman, IOOS Advisory Committee

The United States requires a sustained and integrated ocean observing system, which can better protect life and property, sustain a growing economy, safeguard ecosystems, and advance quality of life for all people.

Autonomous and remotely operated vehicles currently collect essential biogeochemical data for better managing our marine resources.  Satellites enable the global mapping of an increasing number of ocean variables.  A nationally-integrated coastal network of high-frequency radars line the borders of the U.S. feeding critical navigation, response, and environmental information continuously.  And, federal, academic, and industry communities have joined in unique partnerships at regionalnational, and global levels to address common challenges to monitoring our oceans.

The Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) in the U.S. has been developed in order to coordinate these various activities, which are supported by a variety of agency mission objectives and funding streams. 

From a federal standpoint, IOOS is currently a billion dollar enterprise comprised of 18 agencies creating observations, data management, products and services to not only meet their own missions but coordinate their efforts to meet broader societal objectives.

Regional Associations implement localized observing systems in 11 sections of the United States with oversight from the IOOS Program Office situated in NOAA’s National Ocean Service.

U.S. Government budgets face increasing downward pressures, but data and technology integration and innovation, facilitated by the Interagency Ocean Observation Committee (IOOC), will reduce costs for ocean observations, data dissemination, and private sector investment in our ocean resources.

To meet needs to coordinate ocean observations, U.S. Congress passed legislation in 2009 that established the IOOC and assigned it the following tasks:

(A) prepare annual and long-term plans for consideration and approval by the Council for the integrated design, operation, maintenance, enhancement and expansion of the System to meet the objectives of this subtitle and the System Plan;

(B) develop and transmit to Congress at the time of submission of the President’s annual budget request an annual coordinated, comprehensive budget to operate all elements of the System identified in subsection (b), and to ensure continuity of data streams from Federal and non-Federal assets;

(C) establish required observation data variables to be gathered by both Federal and non-Federal assets and identify, in consultation with regional information coordination entities, priorities for System observations;

(D) establish protocols and standards for System data processing, management, and communication;

(E) develop contract certification standards and compliance procedures for all non-Federal assets, including regional information coordination entities, to establish eligibility for integration into the System and to ensure compliance with all applicable standards and protocols established by the Council, and ensure that regional observations are integrated into the System on a sustained basis;

(F) identify gaps in observation coverage or needs for capital improvements of both Federal assets and non-Federal assets;

(G) subject to the availability of appropriations, establish through one or more participating Federal agencies, in consultation with the System advisory committee established under subsection (d), a competitive matching grant or other programs–

(i) to promote intramural and extramural research and development of new, innovative, and emerging observation technologies including testing and field trials; and

(ii) to facilitate the migration of new, innovative, and emerging scientific and technological advances from research and development to operational deployment;

(H) periodically review and recommend to the Council, in consultation with the Administrator, revisions to the System Plan;

(I) ensure collaboration among Federal agencies participating in the activities of the Committee; and

(J) perform such additional duties as the Council may delegate.