Network shares undersea wonders online

Image: El Gordo
Sensors that are part of the Cabled Array monitor the El Gordo hydrothermal vent at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean off the Oregon coast. (Credit: NSF / OOI / UW / ISS; V15)

The National Science Foundation and its partners, including the University of Washington, are showing off the real-time data streams from the $386 million Ocean Observatories Initiative after more than a decade of planning and years of controversy.

Imagery and readings from the initiative’s network of undersea platforms and sensors have been flowing over the Internet for months, and the data flow is still on the increase. But the NSF is highlighting the project’s progress this week to celebrate World Oceans Day on June 8.

“The OOI is placing as much ocean data online as possible, and making it available in real time,” Roger Wakimoto, the NSF’s assistant director for geosciences, said in a news release. “In addition to scientific discovery, we hope to spark the public’s interest in the sea, and contribute to the safety of those who make their living on the water or vacation along the coast.”

The OOI Data Portal provides free access to the raw data from more than 830 instruments, spread across 83 platforms in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The offerings include seismic data, temperature readings, chemical measurements – and regularly scheduled real-time HD video feeds from the Mushroom, a 14-foot-tall, active hydrothermal vent located 250 miles off the Oregon Coast on Axial Seamount.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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