The new issue of 41˚N is now available in both print and digital editions. This issue examines how and why we explore the vast oceans, which yield new discoveries but largely remain a mystery.
–From the Editor–
The vast oceans—responsible for generating half of the air we breathe, sequestering carbon to reduce the impacts of climate change, and providing us with food and other natural resources—yield new discoveries regularly, but much about them remains mysterious.
The research needed to better understand them is challenged by a number of issues, one of which is funding contraints—something that is nowhere more recognized than at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, home to the Inner Space Center and the soon-to-be-retired R/V Endeavor.
The competition to be the host of a replacement for the Endeavor has brought together a number of institutions and universities along the East Coast, all contributing to URI’s proposal to the National Science Foundation, which owns the academic research fleet. Partnerships like these are the present and future of ocean exploration, not only because they marshal limited financial resources, but also because they speed up discoveries.
For example, Northeastern University’s Ocean Genome Legacy Center, a repository for marine DNA and tissue samples from all over the world, is open to contributions from anyone and distributes samples for study to researchers all over the world. “We’re pretty open minded about the value of samples, because you never know where discovery is going to come from,” said Dan Distel, executive director of the Ocean Genome Legacy Center, in a page about the project on Northeastern’s website.
Similarly—though iconic explorers like Robert Ballard, discoverer of the Titanic, will always capture the imagination—more and more, it will be teams of researchers (see “Drilling Down”) from a variety of institutions, businesses, and countries who are uncovering the lost treasures, new species, and hidden terrains of the oceans’ vast depths.
[info]41ºN is a publication of Rhode Island Sea Grant and the Coastal Institute at the University of Rhode Island.[/info]