Program Overview

Global Oceans is focused around four principal Program Areas: Deep Sea Research, Arctic Research, Atmospheric Science, and the development of new Regional Science Consortia. Large-scale projects under each of these Program Areas are discussed on this website and have been in development over the past several years with the participation of many collaborators. 

Each of these Global Oceans projects share at least three characteristics: they are internationally collaborative; they are designed to accelerate a deeper scientific understanding of our ocean, toward solving global-scale policy, conservation, and capacity development challenges; and they are each uniquely enabled by our ability to regionally mobilize and deploy MARV research vessels and scientific equipment anywhere in the world.

Deep Sea Research

In the Program Area of Deep-Sea Research, the Global Seamounts Project (GSP) seeks to take a different approach to investigating and understanding one of the largest oceanic biomes, moving from what has historically been a descriptive approach of species occurrence and habitat descriptions on seamounts to conducting, in this project, a series of intensive, multidisciplinary expeditions and intercalibrated measurements that will be integrated, in tandem, with development of multiple advanced computational models of complex ecosystem function for seamounts.

These new models will allow scientists and policymakers to  better understand impacts from climate change and human pressure in terms of factors such as system resilience and stability; patterns and drivers of biodiversity; system tipping points, feedbacks, and thresholds; and synergistic impacts of multiple stressors on ecosystem function. A principal outcome of the GSP will be to inform the development of future sustainable resource management and conservation strategies for these systems. 

The project proposes to survey a sample set of 20 oceanic seamounts in three ocean basins over 5 years, enabled by the deployment of project-configured MARVs. The first series of GSP Ecosystem Modeling Workshops is planned for early 2021. For an overview of the project, see the video of seamounts expert Malcolm R. Clark, PhD, from NIWA in New Zealand talking about the GSP.

This Program Area also encompasses our Deep Sea Vehicles Project to rebuild and operate three deep-sea vehicles acquired by Global Oceans in 2020 from Oceaneering International, Inc. in a multi-million-dollar asset donation. It includes two 6000-meter ROVs, the Magellan 725 ROV and the Ocean Discovery ROV, and the 6000-meter towed sonar vehicle, the Ocean Explorer 6000, together with infrastructure required to operate these systems including winches, crane, umbilicals, power systems, modular operational vans and workshops, and system components. 

The ROVs will be rebuilt under contract with Oceaneering into advanced, dedicated scientific 6000-meter ROVs with a range of biological and physical sampling systems. See the press release announcing Global Oceans' vehicle acquisition here.

The Advanced Projects component of our deep-sea vehicles work is exploring the development of specialized ROV-deployed tools, including an improved sampling system for bringing deep-sea “piezophilic” microbial organisms to the surface and into the lab under continuous ambient conditions of extreme hydrostatic pressure and temperature. Another early-stage project is exploring the design of an ROV-deployed deep-sea microscope.

These three vehicles, when relaunched, will contribute significantly to several Global Oceans projects and will be offered to the international ocean science community for research, exploration, and education.

Arctic Research

In the Program Area of Arctic Research, Global Oceans is developing the SASx Arctic Baseline Project. SASx is being developed as a ten-year, annual survey of the Arctic Ocean on PolarMARV-configured chartered commercial icebreakers and ice-class offshore service vessels (OSVs). SASx will replicate and extend through time the core Arctic datasets obtained by the upcoming international Synoptic Arctic Survey (SAS). The single-year SAS initiative will generate a comprehensive “snapshot” of the Arctic Ocean, to be conducted during 2021 by research icebreakers from nearly a dozen nations.

Extending the SAS datasets with high-resolution, multi-year time-series measurements in the Arctic Ocean will inform resource management and regulatory policy and enable development of improved climate and ecosystem models of the Arctic, which today are significantly constrained by the lack of Arctic data resolution.

Global Oceans’ ability to expand Arctic research vessel capacity, especially through the adaptive scientific mobilization of commercial icebreaking vessels, addresses two important challenges for Arctic science from a ship perspective: 1) conducting regular, repeat transects to see how the system evolves; and 2) to push out of the traditional summer research season into the winter season for observations. See more about how Global Oceans proposes to mobilize the 110-meter Aiviq icebreaker for this project in the SASx Project Overview and Project Highlights sections.

Atmospheric Science

In the Program Area of Atmospheric Science, Global Oceans is collaborating with Argonne National Laboratory in the US on a proposal to design, build, and operate a new ship-deployed atmospheric observatory called the Atmospheric Instrumentation Suite (AIS). The facility will be owned and operated as an independent, nonprofit, nongovernmental research asset for the international science community. 

The AIS will consist of three 20’ instrument modules and a workshop/storage module, globally certified for vessel deployment, and containing over 40 state-of-the-art atmospheric instruments. The proposal is the result of over three years of collaboration with the project team at Argonne to design a new facility that builds on the success of existing atmospheric observatories and is certified for deployment on vessels. A priority for AIS deployment will be in the Arctic Ocean, where it will help to fill longstanding data gaps needed for improving global climate models.

Planned AIS vessel deployments in the Indo-Pacific will also contribute to the development of improved models of Asian Monsoon dynamics through the Asian Monsoon Modeling Project

Roxy Matthew Koll, PhD, Climate Scientist at the Centre for Climate Change Research, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in India, points out in his AIS Project Highlight contribution, that building the AIS facility represents an important opportunity to fill crucial atmospheric data gaps in the Indo-Pacific; and that coupled, simultaneous oceanographic-atmospheric measurements from MARVs deploying the AIS would contribute significant new data for understanding Asian Monsoon dynamics and how to predictively model these systems. 

Regional Science Consortia

In the Program Area of Regional Science Consortia, Global Oceans is working with stakeholders and scientists in the Indo-Pacific region, supported in part through our involvement in the Indian Ocean Resources Forum (IRF), to launch the Indo-Pacific Collaborative

Building partnerships and catalyzing new opportunities for mobilizing MARV ship time across institutions and national agencies in developing regions to support research and education is a major mission objective for Global Oceans. This project is working to define potential organizational frameworks for collaboration to enable access to Global Class research ships and advanced scientific equipment where it is otherwise unavailable. Regional consortia of universities and government agencies could facilitate resource- and cost-sharing on regionally deployed MARV vessels as a flexible, non-capital intensive solution for rapid expansion of ocean science capacity.

This is the opposite of so-called “helicopter science”, focusing instead on enabling a regional, stakeholder-driven agenda for ocean science, education, and technical development in the Indo-Pacific through an adaptive, lower cost MARV strategy that can be closely aligned with regional needs and resource constraints. 

Supporting this project regionally is our newly organized MARV HUB: Singapore facility, a collaboration with our logistics and facility supply partners, led by Inchcape Shipping Services, to provide a centralized mobilization hub for MARV vessels transiting to the Indian Ocean and into Southeast Asia. Working with our logistics, engineering, port services, and workspace module partners in Singapore the MARV HUB will provide regional knowledge, local warehousing and meeting facilities, port services, and on-the-ground technical expertise for mobilizing Indo-Pacific MARV expeditions.

As this Program Area evolves we hope to develop additional new opportunities for collaboration with regional ocean science communities and partners in West Africa; and with Small Island Developing States (SIDS), supporting the goals of the UN SAMOA Pathway and other regional initiatives.


An important aspect of Global Oceans as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation is that all of our projects seek philanthropic support for funding, including from major public and private foundations, individuals, and corporations, as well as from governmental science agencies.

Please review our website for more information about our Program Areas and Projects. More will be added soon about our project partners and related program collaborations. 

We welcome your comments and look forward to contributing to the advancement of ocean science and international capacity development over the next several decades.

Ocean Science Research
Deep Sea Ocean Research Exploration
ROV Towfish Ocean Research Vessel
Seamounts Ecosystem Biophysical Modeling Research 
Arctic Ecosystem Survey ROV Climate
Atmospheric Measurement Ocean Tropical Climate