Facing critical dangers like rising seas and the impact of climate change on marine life, US scientists need more funding in the next decade, officials said Friday.
A new report from the National Research Council is calling for cuts in money spent on infrastructure and more cash devoted to basic scientific research from 2015-2025.
Undertaken at the request of the National Science Foundation's Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE), the report also identifies eight priority research areas.
These include more research on how climate change will impact the marine food web, and improved forecasting of tsunamis and earthquakes—which along with other extreme weather events will become more frequent as the planet warms.
"From 2000 to 2014, OCE's annual budgets have not kept pace with the rising costs of operating and maintaining research infrastructure, including the fleet of academic research vessels, scientific ocean drilling facilities, and the Ocean Observatories Initiative," the report stated.
"As a consequence, the increase in infrastructure costs has led to a substantial decline in funding for core research programs and therefore less support for investigators."
The report's eight research priorities were narrowed down by how much impact they would have on society, their transformative potential, readiness and partnership potential with other agencies.
Other priorities included an examination of the role of biodiversity in marine ecosystem resilience, and how the characteristics of the sub seafloor environment affects our understanding of the origin and evolution of life.
"The next decade and beyond should be a time of opportunity and progress in ocean science, with advances that benefit the societal and economic goals not only of our nation but also the world," said committee co-chair Shirley Pomponi, executive director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration, Research, and Technology.
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