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ST Conference Review

Ocean Sciences Meeting

By Sandro Carniel

From February 23 to 28, 2014, more than 5,500 attendants gathered for the 17the biennial Ocean Sciences Meeting, held at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. The event was co-sponsored by AGU (American Geophysical Union), ASLO (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography) and TOS (The Oceanography Society).

The meeting brought together scientists, engineers, students, educators, policy makers and industry leaders from more than 25 different countries. An international mix of participants eagerly shared the latest results on a series of different subjects relevant to the ocean sciences fields.

OSM was a step towards what modern scientists call “oceanology”, i.e., a nonsectorial, integrated and multidisciplinary study of the oceans. Starting with increasing evidence of multiple human impacts on the oceans, the topics covered a large series of marine science disciplines: physical, chemical, biological and geological oceanography, together with presentations reflecting new and emerging research on the global ocean and society, applied research, education and communication of results to a broader audience.

Overall, it was a week of intensive and exciting meetings and fun events, including social gatherings, music and sports activities. The final touch came from the magic of the island and its beaches, which served as visual reminders of some of the challenges related to global change that we must deal with in the next decades.

The opening keynote on Sunday night focused on the Hawaiian traditional culture’s contributions to ocean science and protection. Two plenary sessions were scheduled on Tuesday and Thursday morning in the Kalakaua Ballroom, which presented keynote lessons about coral reefs and climate change, how cephalopods sense and manipulate light, and recent advancements on autonomous robotic ocean sensing. In the remaining days, technical sessions were held daily from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

The breaks allowed the attendees to visit the exhibit halls, which were open February 24 to 27 until 7:00 p.m. and populated by about 100 companies and scientific institutions. Close by, dedicated poster sessions were held every afternoon after 4 p.m., stimulated by common coffee breaks and refreshments.

As for the social events, a crowded “Welcome to Honolulu” was held on Sunday night on the rooftop of the Convention Center, a music Jam Session was held Tuesday night and a 5-kilometer ocean fun race run was held Wednesday in Ala Moana Park at dawn and attended by more than 300 people, nearby the famous Waikiki Beach.

Scientific Program
The technical program featured about 5,000 oral and poster communications, in more than 120 sessions. Featured topics were wide-ranging, including climate change, nearshore processes, ocean acidification, ultradeep ocean sciences, mesoscale processes, sediment transport, dissolved organic carbon cycle, human-marine environment interactions, sea level rise, and many others.

OSM organized a series of tutorials, with the aim of reaching a broad audience of nonspecialists with general overviews. Among the tutorials were those that dealt with the IPCC fifth assessment and the role of oceans in the climate system, marine ecosystem modeling, mesoscale mixing, coupled numerical models and ocean acidification.

As usual, OSM gave a lot of importance to a new generation of scientists, with a dedicated program for mentors and mentees, as well as a focus on aspects such as the necessity for scientists to correctly communicate science and engage with a target audience.

Joint sessions on research cooperation between the U.S. and foreign countries, particularly those in the EU, were also held.

Exhibit Hall
The conference had a large exhibit hall that saw much traffic, filled with the latest in marine technology fields. The booths were constantly visited throughout the week by a continuous flow of interested and curious visitors, happy to have experts at hands to clarify doubts and discuss technical aspects.

Among the many sea technology devices presented, there was great interest in recent advances in the capabilities of instrumentation that can allow state-of-the-art synoptic acquisitions, such as radar systems, AUVs and gliders, and fundamental support to ocean observatories, such as self-profiling probes for physical and biogeochemical parameters.

More traditional technology was also present, with improvements, such as wave-rider buoys and turbulence profilers. There was also a growing interest for optical and acoustic communications in the water.

A strong emphasis was also put on acquiring standardized measurements, a strategy that can improve rapid exchange of big data and minimize barriers between data providers and data users.

Conference Awards OSM had an awards forum to recognize people who have shown exemplary contributions in the ocean science fields.

The AGU Sverdrup Lecture Award was presented to Dr. Dennis H. Hansell of the University of Miami for his achievements in the fields of dissolved organic carbon in the ocean carbon cycle.

Dr. Gerhard J. Herndi of the University of Vienna was awarded the ASLO G. Evelyn Hutchinson Award for his contributions in the field of microbial ecology.

The Walter Munk Award, granted jointly by TOS, the U.S. Office of Naval Research and the Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy, was given to Dr. W. Steven Holbrook of the University of Wyoming and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He is regarded as the father of the new field of seismic oceanography.

Next OS Meeting
The Next Ocean Sciences Meeting will take place in New Orleans, Louisiana, February 21 to 26 2016.

Sandro Carniel reported and wrote this conference review for Sea Technology. He works for CNR-ISMAR in Venice, Italy, and can be reached at sandro.carniel@ismar.cnr.it.

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