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News – Ocean Observatories Initiative
  1. When NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara lifted off on a Russian Soyuz rocket for a six-month stay aboard the International Space Station, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Principal Engineer Don Peters and his family were all huddled around their respective NASA TV screens to watch. Peters had hired O’Hara as a WHOI engineer in 2009, where she worked until her acceptance to the NASA Astronaut Class of 2017.  During her time at WHOI, O’Hara served as part of the engineering teams on both the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) and the human-occupied vehicle (HOV) AlvinUpgrade. As an engineering lead for both OOI and Alvin, Peters was hiring a number of engineers in 2009. “Her resume jumped out at me,” he explained, noting that she had gotten her private pilot's license at age 16, which was all part of her ultimate ambition to be an astronaut.  O’Hara joined WHOI after having earned a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Kansas, followed by a Master of Science degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Purdue University. Throughout her time at WHOI, Peters said she exhibited strong technical skills, a positive attitude, and an ability to work well under pressure.  “Loral brought exceptional technical skills to OOI, where she excelled at systems engineering (structuring project efforts based on documented requirements), which was just what OOI needed during its early years, and continues to utilize now in its tenth year of operations,” he added. O’Hara was involved in the initial development and testing of a new design for high conductor-count mooring stretch hoses, which are key functional elements of the OOI Coastal and Global Scale Nodes (CGSN) coastal surface and profiler moorings. Stretch hoses give the instrument-equipped buoys the ability to be anchored with electrical connection to the seafloor and move with the waves and wind.  She spent a majority of her time at WHOI on the Alvin Upgrade project, where she was lead for the specification, design, and fabrication of the main vehicle frame, and served as lead Systems Engineer and assistant Chief Engineer under Peters. [media-caption path="" link="#"]WHOI staff celebrate Loral O’Hara’s successful liftoff aboard the Soyuz MS-24 spacecraft from the Russia-run Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan enroute to the International Space Station. Credit: Jayne Doucette © WHOI.[/media-caption] It was with great delight that, in 2017, Peters learned that her dream of becoming an astronaut was to be realized.  It was O’Hara’s third time applying to the space program, and she was selected as one of twelve candidates for the 2017 NASA Astronaut Class, from a field of about 18,000 applicants. He knew she was an awesome team player with good skills and a great personality, who exhibited a steadiness under pressure. “Those qualities resonated with the space program and are visible in Loral’s work in space today,” Peters said, then added, “It's pretty mind blowing to think of her flying overhead a couple times a day, and it was just such a thrill to see her arriving up there in the Space Station, with such a huge smile on her face.” When Peters watched O’Hara on her first space walkoutside of the International Space Station (ISS) for six hours and 42 minutes on Wednesday November 1, 2023, he wasn’t surprised nor worried.  (The spacewalk was the fourth all-female spacewalk outside of the ISS). O'Hara and fellow NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli set out to remove radio frequency group hardware and replace solar array hardware outside the ISS.      
  2. On Wednesday, February 21st, the Ocean Data Labs will host a "mini" workshop for professors interested in learning about the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) and how they can utilize OOI data to support the teaching of oceanographic concepts and data literacy to undergraduate students. The workshop will introduce faculty to the community-developed collection of OOI Data Explorationsand the online OOI Lab Manual. Participants will learn how these resources can be integrated into introductory oceanography (or similar) courses to support student learning. This OOI Data Labs workshop will be held from 10:30am to 3:30pm, in a hotel next to the New Orleans Convention Center, making it easy for attendees to participate in both the workshop and the meeting.  OSM registration is not required to attend the workshop.  Space is limited, so please apply early. For more information and to apply, please visit 2024 OOI Data Labs Workshop page.
  3. Society experiences changes in the global ocean through the ocean’s boundaries. While climate change is certain, its effects in coastal and ocean boundary regions vary considerably geographically. The climate signal is the link between the broader changing climate and the resulting events, which manifests differently in coastal areas than in the open ocean. The U.S. territorial waters encompass 11 Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs) that range from the cold waters of the Arctic to the tropical waters of the Pacific Islands, and include the Great Lakes that are the world’s largest system of freshwater lakes. As climate change leads to a warmer ocean, LMEs will be exposed to increasing stressors, and coastal communities will be more vulnerable to the effects of climate anomalies. Under these circumstances, it is key to develop a framework that improves the link between larger scale climate variability in the open ocean and its signatures along the coasts.


    This workshop will bring together operators and users of coastal ocean observing systems to identify the key science issues that need to be resolved to detect and respond to coastal climate change in the coming decades. To achieve this, the workshop will:
    1. Identify opportunities to accelerate the co-design and optimization of observing systems for detecting the coastal climate signal by integrating knowledge, data, and approaches.
    2. Foster collaborations between the climate science, operational oceanographic, research, and resource management communities to inform first responder agencies in the management and mitigation of coastal vulnerability to both event-scale and long-term climate changes.
    3. Bridge gap between global climate research and regional operational oceanography at the coasts.


    Deliverables include:
    • A workshop report that articulates ways for optimizing global and coastal observing systems to capture the coastal climate signal and address society’s needs for better coastal climate information.
    • Identification of coastal climate signals and specific observational metrics needed to track local and regional impacts, including ecosystems and human health.
    • Recommendations to be considered by the nascent IOOC Coastal Climate Signal Task Team
    Learn more and register here.
  4. A team of OOI Coastal and Global Scale Nodes (CGSN) scientists and engineers returned to Woods Hole, MA aboard the R/V Neil Armstrong on November 4, having successfully completed another round of tests of mooring equipment and site location surveys for the proposed relocation of the Coastal Pioneer Array to the Mid-Atlantic Bight (MAB), off the coast of Cape Hatteras, NC. [media-caption path="" link="#"]The OOI-CGSN team surveyed the seabed to better understand the environment for the proposed moorings sites. The RV Neil Armstrong operated hull-mounted acoustic equipment to collect bathymetry (depth contours; shown left ), backscatter imagery (seabed characterization), and sub bottom data (seabed profile and geophysical layering).  Chris Basque and Irene Duran (shown right) also piloted the ROV over the mooring locations to collect still images, video, and high-resolution sonar of the seabed. Photos: Sheri N. White © WHOI.[/media-caption] [media-caption path="" link="#"]Closeup of multi-beam survey.[/media-caption] Having accomplished all of the primary cruise objectives under un-seasonally warm and calm conditions, the weather picked up at the MAB as they were finishing up the last two CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth) surveys along the proposed location of the main mooring lines. The team then headed north to conduct a final ROV survey of the Shallow Water test mooring they had put in place the week before in 32 meters of water southwest of Martha’s Vineyard. This ROV inspection was the second conducted at this mooring location. A first inspection was done shortly after the mooring’s deployment, when all components were found to be in place and operational. The second confirmed the earlier findings. In addition to deployment of the Shallow Water test mooring off Martha’s Vineyard, the CGSN team conducted recovery operations onsite at MAB. They recovered the Coastal Profiler Mooring anchor, deployed in the spring of 2023. The mooring itself had been recovered in August of this year. The team also recovered the Coastal Surface Mooring after ~8 months operating at the proposed Pioneer MAB location. The mooring was deployed in a water depth of 30 m and survived storms with max wave heights of 7.5-10 m and continued to send data to shore! [media-caption path="" link="#"]The Coastal Surface Mooring is safely on deck after ~8 months operating at the proposed Pioneer Mid-Atlantic Bight location. Credit: Sheri N. White © WHOI.[/media-caption] Other activities conducted during the 11-day expedition included a site surveys (utilizing multi-beam, sub-bottom, and ROV) of alternate mooring locations, and cross-shelf and along-shelf CTD surveys to better understand the oceanographic conditions in the Mid-Atlantic Bight. "Conducting at-sea tests of our infrastructure and detailed environmental surveys of the environment are important to ensure the success of new OOI Array," said Sheri N. White, Chief Scientist for the recovery cruise.  "We were lucky to have excellent weather for our deployment and recovery cruises.  But also pleased that our test moorings experienced challenging weather during the deployment.  This gives us the confidence that the moorings can operate successfully in the new environment and collect data year-round."  The plan is to deploy the Coastal Pioneer Array in its new location in spring 2024. More details about and images from the expedition can be found here.
  5. Join Axiom Data Science Senior Software Engineer Brian Stone and OOI's Senior Manager of Cyberinfrastructure Jeffrey Glatstein as they demonstrate the latest features of Data Explorer and answer your questions about how you might use their features in your research. The latest additions to Data Explorer include a beta display of high-definition video streams, additional differentiation between the Axial Seamount and Oregon Margin Regional Cabled Array Assets, human-in-the-loop quality control flag display, and two ADCP instruments that were previously not visualized. This virtual town hall is an opportunity to have your questions answered and share feedback. Be sure to mark your calendar and attend.
    • OOI Virtual Town Hall
    • Wednesday December 6, 2023
    • 1 pm Eastern
    • Please register here.