Future Directions in Bioluminescence Research
Recent trends in microelectronics, computing technology, and materials science are impacting the development of small robust sensors to measure numerous oceanic parameters including marine bioluminescence.
Marriage of these sensor technologies to new platforms such as AUVs, remotely piloted aircraft and small profiling moorings, is providing new measurement opportunities, especially in the coastal ocean. The laptop-computing environment is making possible rapid interpretation of field measurements to support customer needs on site. Worldwide communication improvements now permit rapid transmission of field data to central repositories for data basing, sensor fusion, and centralized operational environmental support.
With respect to marine bioluminescence, development of smaller, targeted sensors has recently expanded and work on several small systems continues. Assuming that some significant portion of these developments are successful, new opportunities will be available for combinations of technologies to attack such problems as temporal and spatial variability, acquisition of data sets for modeling, and rapid communication of bioluminescence measurements to central facilities to support environmental prediction.
It had been over a decade since leading investigators in the field of marine bioluminescence had gathered with Navy laboratory and operational personnel to take stock of the current state of science and technology in this field and to map-out future directions for research, development and transition. ONR sponsored a 3-day workshop in late February 2000 to address this need and discuss topics such as.
- 1. The paucity of seasonal and area data sets for modeling and environmental support, especially in the coastal ocean.
- 2. The optimal use of small bathyphotometer systems (including buoys, profiling systems and expendables).
3. Potential transitions to operational forces. Dual use items?
4. Predictive modeling, what do we need to get there?
5. Fundamental research questions. What are the "show stoppers" in our current understanding of organisms and processes?
6. Impacts of new technology.
Participants in the meeting included those with expertise in the fields of marine bioluminescence, marine optics, physical oceanography, ocean and biological modeling, technology development, and fleet operations.
The synergistic energy of this group was impressive and recommendations of the meeting are already finding their way into ongoing research. ONR appreciates the contributions of the participants, the assistance of the American Institute for Biological Science, the Steering Committee, and especially the workshop chairs, Drs. Widder and Lapota.
Drs. James Eckman and Ronald Tipper
Biological Oceanography Program, Office of Naval Research
(revised 5/1/2000; RCT)
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