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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI researchers receive prestigious
grants for ocean research
Two federal grants bring $6.1 million to Rhode Island

KINGSTON, R.I. -- August 21, 2000 -- Two researchers from the University of Rhode Island have received grants from the National Oceanographic Partnership Program to fund research into the development of oceanographic data collection and monitoring systems.

Peter Cornillon, professor of oceanography, was awarded $4.6 million for development of an integrated regional, national and international oceanographic data system. Malcolm Spaulding, professor and chairman of the URI Department of Ocean Engineering, received $1.5 million to implement an integrated data monitoring and modeling system in Narragansett Bay.

Cornillon's data system will network together oceanographic and meteorological data that is currently found in hundreds of different places around the world, thereby making that information available and accessible to local users. Anyone interested in information such as sea surface temperature maps, currents, or meteorological data for any ocean on earth could access it.

"In the short term it will probably be used mostly by oceanographers," said Saunderstown resident Cornillon. "But within one or two years there will be a lot of others using it, including fishermen, sportsmen, the meteorological community, and the public."

Spaulding's project is designed to collect data about Narragansett Bay tides, temperature, currents, wind speed, salinity, sea surface elevation and more from numerous points around the Bay and make that information available in real time to users on the Internet.

"The data collection devices are already out there. By integrating these real time measurements with prediction models, we can estimate what's going to happen at each data point and at other locations where we don't have actual measurements," explained Spaulding, a resident of Wakefield.

This information could then be used by the Coast Guard in response to oil spills or for search and rescue operations; by shipping companies to plan their transit up and down the Bay; by the Narragansett Bay Commission and the Department of Environmental Management to manage resources; and by the public who may want more detailed Bay conditions than are provided in weather forecasts.

"Our goal is to show the usefulness of large scale ocean models and to embed local models into these global models to provide a high level of predictive accuracy," Spaulding said.

A partnership of twelve federal agencies, the National Oceanographic Partnership Program was established by Congress in 1996 to assure national security, advance economic development, protect quality of life, and strengthen science education and communication through improved knowledge of the ocean.


For Information: Todd McLeish 874-7892


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