Expanding Research Capacity

The Age of the Anthropocene.

Why are we in this human-driven process? Essentially because of the scale of human activity…We have an extreme environmental crisis that has come from this scale change. The crisis is imminent, dramatic, and hugely pressed by the continuing dynamic of the world economy.

What is the role of the scientific community in all of this? The first is to understand mechanisms. We need fundamental monitoring and mapping of Earth systems states. We need detailed observations, but with a dynamic point of view – how is Earth changing? We need all these measurements – nitrogen and phosphorus fluxes, biodiversity measurements, carbon fluxes – to know where we are in this world and how it is changing. 

Without understanding the deep science, we don’t stand a chance…We need the science enterprise in its most fundamental sense. Without it we are lost, we have nothing, and we won’t even know what we are doing to the planet.

Jeffrey Sachs, Ph.D., Economist and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University – From the AGU Frontiers of Geophysics Lecture, American Geophysical Union Conference, San Francisco, California, December 2014.

The vastness of the ocean creates significant challenges of access for manned research platforms, especially for access to remote regions, the open ocean and the deep sea. In practice, research proposals and exploration planning become self-limiting – a function of what is feasible to do with available platforms and associated science assets, which are increasingly limited both in number and funding support.

The Modular Adaptive Research Vessel (MARV™ and PolarMARV™) strategy developed by Global Oceans is designed to expand the geospatial footprint and frequency of manned missions in the world’s oceans. It leverages a large worldwide base of private-sector assets – ships, modular workspace systems, port services management, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and other resources – that can be chartered, contracted for, and adapted on a project-specific basis for scientific research.

Global Oceans is organized across two integrated dimensions: First, the innovative MARV operational model developed by Global Oceans enables an expanded research capacity for ocean and atmospheric science that is readily scalable, demand-responsive, and more cost-effective than traditional approaches. Second, Global Oceans is developing specific projects and exploring new collaborative opportunities across the science community internationally where mobilization of MARV platforms can catalyze and enable important research that is currently constrained by physical and organizational capacity.

These efforts have focused on where the MARV strategy can help close recognized capacity gaps; where collaborative mobilization of shared platforms contributes to executing planned international research initiatives; and where MARV’s adaptive capacity and scale can enable new research initiatives that have transformative potential.

Text3To productively enable private-sector resources and align them with scientific and institutional requirements, Global Oceans has developed a “networked” approach based on a strategy of supply chain integration and public-private sector collaboration. This provides an organizational mechanism and transaction bridge to these commercial sector assets on behalf of the research community that does not otherwise exist.

As an independent, nonprofit global resource that cuts across institutional administrative silos that schedule and manage traditional research vessels, Global Oceans can assemble and operate international scientific expeditions with collaborating scientists from anywhere in the world. Fully functional research platforms can now be mobilized and deployed within a region of study (eliminating long transits) and within a much shorter timeframe. The number, frequency and location of multiple expeditions can therefore be scaled to the need.

This strategy also mitigates the necessity for significant capital investment and sustained cost associated with acquisition and ownership of large research vessels. Instead, expedition costs are incremental to each project and optimized by the commercial marketplace – and more funding can be invested in innovative research; exploration and analytical tools; and in configuring project-aligned modular lab and workspace systems that can be economically shipped to regionally-deployed MARVs.