Amid growing concern regarding the current federal funding climate for ocean science research, the National Science Foundation (NSF) just announced continued support for the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) research program at BIOS. According to Dr. Nicholas Bates, Senior Scientist and Associate Director of Research at BIOS and Principal Investigator of the BATS project, “This represents about $14 million from NSF to BIOS over the next five years: approximately $6 million for research and roughly another $8 million to support science days at sea aboard the R/V Atlantic Explorer.” This announcement comes on the heels of a $4 million award from NSF last year to support Hydrostation S, the world’s longest-running hydrographic time-series, for another five years. Together, these two awards represent a significant commitment by NSF to ocean time-series off Bermuda.
The renewed funding was welcome news for other BATS project scientists, Dr. Rod Johnson of BIOS, Dr. Mike Lomas of Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and Dr. Deborah Steinberg of Virginia Institute of Marine Science. For the past 25 years, the BATS program has provided oceanographers and climate scientists with unparalleled access to long-term data sets of high quality ocean observations and measurements. Scientists from around the world use these time-series to investigate a variety of topics, including ocean physics and biogeochemistry, the global carbon cycle, and the ocean’s response to climate change. Dr. Bates points out that, “Multi-decadal observations at BATS also provide critically needed rates of change in the ocean carbon cycle, carbon dioxide sinks and sources in the North Atlantic and, perhaps most importantly, serve as the longest global record of ocean acidification.”
NSF’s funding renewal provides scientists with five more years of data to help advance our understanding of the ocean, as well as the opportunity to develop and test new oceanographic tools and technologies. Dr. Bates adds, “The value of the BATS project for scientific understanding of the ocean owes much to the dedication of BIOS scientists, and numerous scientists and research technicians who have contributed to the project.” The renewal will also support several new areas of research relating to climate change, the ocean’s nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, carbon export, primary production, and the impact of eddies on ocean mixing.
BIOS has a century-long history of supporting student research and scholarship, and Dr. Bates notes that, with this funding, BATS scientists can also “continue to be dedicated to the training and mentorship of both undergraduate and graduate students” from Bermuda and abroad. He continues, “The oceanographic facilities at BIOS allow the project team to train students and technicians, and to collaborate with other researchers, in a manner that few other institutions can provide.”
For more information on the BATS program, including how to access data from BATS cruises, please visit www.bios.edu/research/projects/bats/.