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
"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