View Header


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 12,1998


To better understand the role of the oceans in shaping our weather and climate, and to help address the threat of global warming, Vice President Gore is announcing an expanded ocean monitoring system. The Administration is proposing an additional $12 million through 2002 to place hundreds of monitoring buoys in the North Atlantic and North Pacific to measure critical ocean data.

The oceans cover two-thirds of our planet, and their interaction with the atmosphere has a profound influence on climate patterns and our daily weather. For instance, the recent El Nino, which caused severe flooding and drought worldwide, began with unusually warm temperatures in the South Pacific. Despite significant advances in forecasting, severe weather events inflict a costly toll on agriculture, industry and communities.

One of the most significant factors shaping our future climate is the oceans' response to global warming. The oceans are a major "sink" absorbing carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. How much carbon dioxide the oceans can store, and how that ability changes over time, will heavily influence how quickly the Earth warms. The rate of global warming, in turn, may have serious ramifications for fisheries and other marine life. Finer measurements of ocean data are needed to better track climate shifts, understand the interaction of the oceans and the atmosphere, and predict severe weather and the regional impacts of global climate change. To fill these data gaps:

       The Administration is proposing an additional $4 million a year 
     in fiscal years 2000, 2001 and 2002 so the National Oceanic and
     Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) can place a vast array of 
     floating buoys in the North Atlantic and North Pacific, which now 
     are largely unmonitored. Instruments on the buoys, which can sink 
     and rise on their own, will measure temperature, salinity and 
     currents at different depths. Data from the buoys, part of an 
     expanded Global Ocean Observing System, will complement shipboard 
     and satellite measurements to refine climate prediction models.

      NOAA, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, 
     the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the 
     Navy will continue observations and research on the interaction of 
     oceans, the atmosphere, the polar ice caps, marine ecosystems and 
     the movement of carbon through the oceans.

      NASA also plans to develop, launch and operate a series of new
     satellites to provide extremely accurate measurements of 
     biological productivity in the oceans, as well as wind, currents 
     and temperature at the seas' surface.