Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Objective 1

Map and characterize ocean basin boundaries.

Ocean boundaries include those with the solid Earth (e.g., the seafloor, ridges, canyons, faults, and seamounts), the atmosphere (e.g., air-sea interface), ice (e.g., ice types and ages, keels, ridges, shelves, icebergs) and boundaries within the water column itself. Processes occurring at these boundaries have economic, safety (e.g., natural hazards), scientific, and cultural importance. Characterizing ocean basin boundaries requires using advanced technologies and systems, including autonomous underwater vehicles, multi-beam sonar, side-scan sonar, and other advanced seafloor and water column sensors and mapping technologies.

R&D Targets:

  • Explore poorly-known or unknown regions in support of the U.S. Extended Continental Shelf Project and in the Expanded U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone in the Mid-Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, West Pacific, and Arctic
  • Develop and apply technologies and systems to document ocean basin boundaries in areas defined above and provide ecological baseline characterizations of these areas

Objective 2

Discover and characterize new ocean resources.

NOAA continually seeks to discover, observe, and describe new species, communities of organisms, and resources, both living and non-living. These include species and resources of economic importance and/or benefit to humanity (e.g., natural products for pharmaceutical or biotechnology applications; new hydrate, seep, or microbial environments; cultural/archaeological resources; fish stocks and baseline biodiversity inventories; valuable mineral resources).

R&D Targets:

  • Discover and characterize new habitats and biological communities including microbes associated with hydrothermal vent communities, mesophotic and deep-sea coral habitats, and methane seeps and communities

  • Identify new natural products derived from deep sea biota and marine microbes

  • Identify undiscovered areas of the ocean with potential high concentrations of economic assets

  • Locate new underwater cultural and archaeological heritage sites in U.S. territorial waters for Federal management

Objective 3

Transition ocean exploration discoveries to the rest of NOAA and other agencies.

Results from exploration will highlight areas, resources, or processes that are new to ocean science or in need of further study. By design, these discoveries will directly apply to NOAA mission areas and many of these will benefit other agencies for further research.

R&D Targets:

  • Complete the Atlantic Canyons Undersea Mapping Expeditions (ACUMEN) Project in support of the NOAA Habitat Blueprint Northeast regional initiative

  • Provide baseline characterization information for the establishment of marine protected areas for sensitive deep-sea coral ecosystems in the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico

  • Explore mid-Atlantic deepwater hard bottom habitats and shipwrecks with emphasis on canyons and coral communities as part of a joint project with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

  • Characterize marine archaeological discoveries of cultural or archaeological significance