Oh My Data

Collage of data visualizations from the 2018 OOI Data Workshops

The Ocean Observatories Initiative has a lot of data!

Conceived in the late 1990’s, the OOI was designed to bring together a cutting-edge collection of instruments into a single integrated ocean observatory. This observatory would be larger, more advanced and seek to address a set of complex science questions like no other observatory has before.

When the design for the OOI was finally completed in 2008, it included over 700 instruments deployed on 50+ moorings, mobile platforms, and underwater nodes at 6 locations spread throughout the Western hemisphere. These instruments would measure essential ocean variables like salinity, temperature and oxygen, as well as more novel ones like sustained nutrient, vent fluid and air/water pCO2 measurements.

Following many years of construction, the first instruments hit the water in July of 2013. Today, the OOI data archive includes data from over 1,327 instruments (including a ton of CTDs, seismic sensors, gliders, and one cool HD video camera), and the data continues to stream in live for the world to use.

As of October 1st, 2018, the OOI had over 2.1TB of science data available in its data portal, and that doesn’t even include all of the truly high-resolution instruments like the seismometers, hydrophones and cameras, which add several more terabytes to the collection.

The question now is, what do we do with all that data?

The OOI was designed to support a number of communities, but chief among them were scientists and educators, especially those educators training the next generation of scientists, and not just oceanographers. The OOI presents a wonderful opportunity for students to explore scientific questions using a vast and dynamic dataset that few others have yet to tap.

To prime the pump, over the past few years NSF has sponsored a number of workshop for both scientists and educators. (The image above shows a few of the visualizations created by previous workshop participants.)

These workshops were led by Rutgers University, and introduced participants to the vast treasure trove of data the OOI collects. Using the early datasets available at the time, our team developed a number of resources, programming scripts, and interactive data visualizations to help prospective OOI users bring the OOI back to their labs and classrooms. And we barely scratched the top of the OOI data iceberg.

The good news is, thanks to the support of the NSF, we are launching a new series of workshops in the coming 2 years that will specifically focus on training and growing a community of “OOI Ocean Data Lab” educators. Our hope is that through this effort, we will be able to engage an even larger group of educators, that will further grow the community of students interacting with, using and learning from the Ocean Observatories Initiative.

We’re just getting started, and we hope you will subscribe to our mailing list to join in on the fun.