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Marine Scientific Research Data Website Launched

NCEI launches a new data portal dedicated to marine scientific information collected by international scientists in U.S. waters

Recovery of a CTD instrument
Courtesy of NOAA

As scientific research has advanced and grown over time, the ocean has become an important research site for nations around the globe. Under international law, coastal states have the right to regulate and authorize marine scientific research in waters subject to their jurisdiction. 

To facilitate international research in waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction, the U.S. State Department coordinates the federal government’s development and implementation of U.S. marine scientific research policy consistent with domestic and international law. Known as the Marine Scientific Research program (MSR), its purpose is to evaluate requests by international partners to conduct scientific research activities in waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction. When authorized by the U.S. such activities may include the collection of oceanographic, biological, meteorological, and marine geophysical data, all of which are openly shared with the U.S. Federal agencies interested in the data, including NOAA, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Navy, among others. NCEI is the designated repository for all data collected under the MSR program.

The newly released NCEI Marine Scientific Research Data website allows public discovery and access to data collected by international partners authorized by the U.S. Department of State to conduct MSR in waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction. This data includes oceanographic measurements, visual observations of marine wildlife, chemical measurements, and marine geophysical data, among others.

The NCEI Marine Scientific Research Data website provides access to available datasets collected by international scientists. Courtesy of NCEI.

Advancing Marine Research

Marine scientific research generally refers to activities undertaken in the ocean and coastal waters to expand scientific knowledge of the marine environment and its processes. This research may include physical oceanography, marine chemistry, marine biology, fisheries research, scientific ocean drilling and coring, geological and geophysical research, and other activities with a scientific purpose.

International scientists seeking U.S. consent to conduct marine scientific research must complete an application process. NOAA, among many other U.S. government agencies, works with the U.S. Department of State to review proposals by international scientists to ensure compliance with the requirements of the laws NOAA administers. These laws include the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and the Antiquities Act of 1906

Because NOAA seeks to leverage and benefit from international scientists’ marine scientific research conducted in the maritime zones subject to U.S. jurisdiction, every U.S.-approved   MSR application requires submission of a copy of all data collected during the research project and the research project’s final report to NCEI for archiving.

However, data are only valuable if they are discoverable, which is why a dedicated website has been established specifically for the MSR program data. NCEI’s commitment to strengthen the uses and quality of this key environmental data is ongoing. Every data point added to this archive is a building block to better understanding ocean and coastal waters.