U.S. GLOBEC Technology Report

October 15, 1994
(from the U.S. GLOBEC Technology Committee*)

U.S. GLOBEC has sponsored three workshops relating to technology development and International GLOBEC yet another. There is little doubt that the similarities between these outweigh their differences: all highlight the central role of new sampling and analytical methodology in GLOBEC science, all point out that where the science depends upon these development activities (not only system modeling) may require funding well prior to the final planning much less the initiation of field efforts. A principal difference between the documents is that the international workshop embraced the notion of a "testbed" where complex integrated sensor packages could be intercompared and intercalibrated which was not a recommendation of any of the U.S. workshops. As a result of one of these workshops U.S. GLOBEC released a biotechnology RFP (and funded two research groups) but no optical or acoustic RFP was ever issued although one was prepared.

It has become clear nonetheless that to date U.S. GLOBEC field activities have not been precluded by the degree of funding provided to technology development. New technologies (acoustic and optical) are being used in the N.W. Atlantic program. These were funded in part by the U.S. GLOBEC research program funding for the NW Atlantic but also by N.S.F. Oceanographic Instrumentation Section and by the Oceanic Biology Program of the Office of Naval Research. New genetics approaches (funded by the Biotechnology RFP) are being already incorporated. It is also true that the process has been far from painless and the principal investigators involved have had to limit their ambitions, leverage various sources of funding, delay completion and perhaps inadequately test and intercalibrate or intercompare approaches. Moreover concerns have been raised as to whether or not ONR support will be continued in the future which would substantially affect the technology development community. All that said, given that substantial increases in U.S. GLOBEC funding are anticipated from neither NSF nor NOAA, it is difficult to justify at this time a technology specific RFP.

At present technology transfer would appear to be a greater problem than technology development per se. How can methods, systems, approaches used by a few in the community become available to additional users? How can we make sure that whatever gains are made in our first field program, the NW Atlantic, are incorporated into our upcoming programs in the Pacific and/or the Southern Ocean? In the same vein, are there particular kinds of work, for example genetic methods distinguishing amongst target species, that really do have to be initiated early in program development and like system modeling, cannot be reasonably deferred?

In regard to technology transfer the Friday Harbor acoustics workshops are thought to have been exceedingly productive and conducting similar workshops on a regular basis would seem to be one of the most efficient ways to promote technology transfer.

Last, in regard to the present Terms of Reference (TOR) and membership of the Technology Development Committee (attached) it appears reasonable to continue to have a standing committee but to leave the TOR as general as possible. Referring to the present TOR, this would imply that the third item, "Provide liason..." should be expanded to refer not only to JGOFS but also to GLOBEC International, ICES etc.", particularly if GLOBEC International becomes an official IGBP core program. Item five, should become more definite and positive in regard to making sure that regular training workshops are held and omit the reference to a "national ... facility. Items four, "Investigate need..", and seven, "Determine how.." would appear to be either too specific or in some regards may be moot, and should be deleted from the TOR.

* -- Technology Committee
Peter Ortner (Chair), Mel Briscoe, Tommy Dickey, Dennis Hedgecock, Uwe Kils, Tim Stanton (WHOI), Jules Jaffe, Pat Walsh