UM Alum & Professor Lead Nat’l Resource Council Committee Focused on Ocean Science

FSU President and Rosenstiel School Alum Eric J. Barron and Dr. Rana A. Fine help define framework for the future


MIAMI — June 8, 2011 — Recently, the National Research Council (NRC) released the report: Critical Infrastructure for Ocean Research and Societal Needs in 2030. Fifteen scientists from universities and national research organizations around the country prepared a list of societal issues that will be faced in the coming years, including global climate change, offshore energy production, tsunami detection and sustainable fisheries. This group was led by Florida State University President Eric J. Barron, an alumnus of the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science who chaired the committee, and UM Rosenstiel School Professor Rana A. Fine, who served as vice-chair of the committee.

With more than 12,000 miles of coastline, and more people moving to the coast every year, the United States has a particular interest in studying coastal regions and helping to prioritize environmental concerns that affect these regions. As current research tools age and become superseded, new technology and infrastructure is needed to successfully study the oceans.

The NRC, an operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences, has made it a priority to anticipate future ocean issues and remain at the forefront of ocean science. With lengthy lead times to develop the next generation technologies and facilities, the committee identified research questions that fall into four categories, which will drive research interest in the coming years:

  • Enabling stewardship of the environment
  • Protecting life and property
  • Promoting economic vitality
  • Increasing fundamental scientific understanding.

“Climate and sea level changes in the polar regions, as well as understanding of the ocean’s physical, chemical, and biological responses to outside factors were key to the stewardship discussion,” said Fine, who is an oceanographer that studies timescales of ocean circulation and biogeochemical processes. “Predicting and limiting the effects of natural hazards such as earthquakes, severe storms and tsunamis was vital to the 20 month discussion, as well as the long-term sustainability of resources with new alternatives like wind power, marine hydrokinetics and aquaculture, at which UM is a thought-leader, were discussed as vehicles for the promotion of economic vitality in the future.”

The committee developed a list of three questions federal agencies can use to prioritize investments effectively when replacing ocean research assets:

  • The usefulness of the infrastructure for addressing critical science questions;
  • The affordability, efficiency, and longevity of the infrastructure;
  • Its ability to contribute to other missions or applications.

The report concluded that formal assessments of marine assets should be conducted every 5-10 years to inventory the physical property and match assets with emerging ocean research needs. The use of research vessels, shore-based laboratory facilities and satellite observations will still remain as the primary means of data collection that will aid future expeditions.

About the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School
The University of Miami is the largest private research institution in the southeastern United States. The University’s mission is to provide quality education, attract and retain outstanding students, support the faculty and their research, and build an endowment for University initiatives. Founded in the 1940’s, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world’s premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, please visit

coastal •  research •  environmental •  dr. rana fine •  eric barron •