It has been said that oceanography is a young but ancient science. Despite the vastness of the ocean, which covers close to three-quarters of the earth’s surface, concentrated efforts in ocean studies did not start until the last few decades. This is especially true of the systematic approaches we see today. World wars and the wartime requirements of transportation, embargo, and defense drove oceanographic research to new levels. Concerns of global warming, more appropriately referred to as global climate change, are one of the key driving forces behind ocean research today. Biogeochemical cycles of the biosphere, lithosphere, and each basic element and process involved, have been examined in great detail. For example, the air–sea gas exchange is of great interest to oceanographers because it strongly influences the rate of CO2 absorption by the ocean. Also of interest is the temperature at the sea surface and beyond, as this affects the physical and chemical balance of the water as well. A better global circulation model is critical to the understanding of water mass transport and gas exchange in vastly different environments. The question that needs to be asked is: What will be (or should be) the driving force of oceanography in the next few decades and beyond? To answer this question, it is necessary to point out and highlight the obvious. Views represented here reflect only the opinions of the author, based on results of oceanographic research. They do not reflect the views of any organization or associations.
Before discussing the future needs of ocean sensing, it is prudent to look at an example of the integrated solutions we have today. The example brings together observational data from in situ and remote sensors into a circulation model, to predict and forecast system performance under current and future conditions. This is followed by discussions on logical new focus areas for future research and likely solutions to our sensing needs.
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