July 6, 2016

Reed, Whitehouse, Langevin Announce Ocean Observation Funding for URI

Underwater monitoring infrastructure to track effects of climate change

Providence, RI – Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman Jim Langevin today announced that the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) has been awarded funding from the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) to support the GSO’s ocean monitoring contributions to the Northeast Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS).

“I commend URI and GSO for winning this federal grant,” said Senator Reed.  “GSO is one of the world’s leading marine research institutions and its faculty, students, and staff make important contributions to ocean exploration and research.  These federal funds will help URI deploy an array of ocean-monitoring technology to collect and share data, and ultimately help us better understand and protect our marine environment.”

“Our economy and way of life depend on the health of our oceans in Rhode Island,” said Senator Whitehouse. “These federal resources will help the University of Rhode Island’s GSO track the water quality and health of Narragansett Bay, as well as the effects of climate change, to guide the development of more resilient communities here and across the country.”

NERACOOS received $2,340,760 to support its work in the northwest Atlantic.  From this, the University of Rhode Island’s GSO will receive $300,000 over five years to support the Narragansett Bay Fixed Site Monitoring Network, a system of buoys that tracks ocean conditions and shares data with NERACOOS.  The system collects measurements for depth, temperature, salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen, and other water quality indicators.

“The health of our ocean significantly affects the health of the Rhode Island economy and the quality of life for the residents and visitors who work and play on our coast. These funds will help us to better monitor water quality, as well as environmental factors that can influence marine life and our fisheries,” said Congressman Langevin. “With more accurate, comprehensive data, we can ensure our coastal resources are protected now and sustainable in the future.”

Data from regional observation systems across the country are aggregated by NOAA and IOOS and tracked over the long term to help scientists gauge the global effects of climate change.  Data are used to help understand and forecast changes in our oceans and climate, prepare for and respond to coastal disasters, and balance the needs of economic development, coastal resource use, and environmental stewardship.  Local data collected by the network is also available online for ocean users, such as fishermen and boaters. 

“This funding to support continued enhancement and operation of the Fixed Site Monitoring Network in Narragansett Bay is a tremendous indicator of the value NOAA and the ocean science community place on the availability and use of this data to support Narragansett Bay research efforts, policy decisions, and resource management practices,” said Dr. Bruce Corliss, Dean of the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography.  “The research conducted at GSO looking at the changing environmental conditions, fisheries, and sea-level combined with the subsequent policy changes and outreach and education efforts all reap great benefit of this support.”

The new funding will increase the number of local monitoring stations reporting to NERACOOS from two to six.  It will also add data from a submersible nitrate sensor that can help assess water quality and predict harmful algal blooms. 

“The work in Rhode Island continues our commitment to providing water quality information for those who use and manage Narragansett Bay,” said Dr. Ru Morrison, Executive Director of the NERACOOS. “It builds on our strong collaboration with organizations in the Ocean State, especially URI GSO, and provides the foundation to better understand water quality across the northeast.”

IOOS is a federal, regional, and private sector partnership working to deliver data and information needed to increase understanding of our ocean and coasts to help decision makers improve safety, enhance the economy, and protect the environment.  The NERACOOS is the northeast region of IOOS and is focused on producing, integrating and communicating high quality information that helps ensure safety, economic and environmental resilience, and sustainable use of the coastal ocean.

The University of Rhode Island’s GSO is a nationally and internationally recognized leader in oceanography, including innovative research in coastal science, education, and outreach.


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921