Douglas Luther

3. Your affiliation
University of Hawaii

4. Your discipline
Physical Oceanography

5. Across all ocean science disciplines, please list 3 important scientific questions that you believe will drive ocean research over the decade.
1. What are the processes that alter and re-distribute water properties by advection, diffusion, chemical interaction, biological activity and surface fluxes (top and bottom)? Which ones dominate in each region, vertically and horizontally? Consider biological thin layers (cms to meters thick; see Durham & Stocker, 2012, review). In some regions, they dominate productivity. Notoriously difficult to detect and observe, these layers form and evolve under the influence of a plethora of physical, chemical and biological processes, not all of which act at once.


2. How is the relative importance of each process changing over interannual time scales?

3. What are the implications of this changing balance to ecosystems? What are the climate system feedbacks? Consider a scenario of more storms forcing higher surface layer energy. Zooplankton eschew high energy when they migrate to graze on phytoplankton. More energy could mean less grazing, slower growth, less food for higher trophic levels, etc.
 
6. Within your own discipline, please list 3 important scientific questions that you believe will drive ocean research over the next decade.
1. What are the processes that alter and re-distribute water properties by advection, diffusion and surface fluxes (top and bottom)? Which ones dominate in each region, vertically and horizontally? Consider the surprising dominance of Langmuir Cells, instead of the expected “normal” turbulence, that was found in a shallow coastal environment, using a VADCP powered by the LEO-15 observatory cable (Gargett and Wells, 2007, JFM).

2. How is the relative importance of each process changing over interannual time scales as the environment changes?

3. What are the implications of this changing balance to the distribution of water properties? What are the climate system feedbacks?
7. Please list 3 ideas for programs, technology, infrastructure, or facilities that you believe will play a major role in addressing the above questions over the next decade. Please consider both existing and new technology/facilities/infrastructure/programs that could be deployed in this timeframe. What mechanisms might be identified to best leverage these investments (interagency collaborations, international partnerships, etc.)?
While the occasional expeditionary experiment can identify particular processes and validate models thereof, years of multi-disciplinary data are required to understand the interplay of processes, most of which are inherently nonlinear. In any given environment, energy sources are both episodic and changing on interannual time scales.

To understand and model how the interplay of processes is changing as the environment changes, and whether or not climate system feedbacks are positive or negative, we need to deploy concentrations of multi-disciplinary sensors on infrastructure that can deliver sustained power and interactive communication, enabling long-duration observations at high temporal and vertical sampling rates, e.g., the McLane Moored Profiler can be deployed 10 times longer than under battery power. As well, interactive communication enables re-tasking assets, such as profilers, to achieve even higher temporal and spatial resolution of episodic phenomena, such as thin layers.

8. Other comments pertinent to the committee’s charge.
Regarding the committee’s Charge #5, I imagine the committee will consider NOAA’s observational and modeling commitments to paint the broad picture of global changes of temperature and salinity, and perhaps dissolved oxygen and CO2. NOAA has fully embraced the broad deployment of autonomous vehicles, such as surface drifters, ARGO profilers, and instrumented gliders, as well as traditional methodologies for CLIVAR repeat hydrography sections, MOC and equatorial monitoring, etc. These efforts are sufficient.

Considering NSF’s budget imperatives and its primary role to support the most innovative, and even risky, science, I hope the committee will also evaluate the commitments and planned investments of foreign governments in order to avoid duplication of effort. For example, the drilling program could survive quite well without the JOIDES Resolution, which is a less-capable drill ship than Japan’s Chikyu Hakken. Let the international partners lead this routine program.