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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Oregon Health & Science University
  • Antonio M Baptista
  • (503) 346-3418
  • Yvette H Spitz
  • Peter Zuber
  • David L Martin
Award Date:06/28/2006
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 18,960,000
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 37,030,440
  • FY 2014=$3,320,000
  • FY 2012=$4,000,000
  • FY 2011=$4,258,727
  • FY 2015=$2,656,000
  • FY 2009=$4,040,000
  • FY 2008=$4,000,000
  • FY 2013=$4,718,713
  • FY 2007=$4,037,000
  • FY 2006=$2,960,000
  • FY 2010=$3,040,000
Start Date:07/01/2006
End Date:06/30/2017
Transaction Type: Cooperative Agreements
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.050
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Science and Technology Center for Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction
Federal Award ID Number:0424602
DUNS ID:096997515
Parent DUNS ID:096997515
Program Officer:
  • Baris Uz
  • (703) 292-4557

Awardee Location

Street:3181 S W Sam Jackson Park Rd
Awardee Cong. District:03

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Oregon Health & Science University, West Campus
Street:20000 N.W. Walker Road
Cong. District:01

Abstract at Time of Award

The PI's propose a Science and Technology Center for Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction. The mission of this Center is to study coastal margins using integrated observation and prediction technologies as critical infrastructure for research, education, and knowledge transfer. The STC will advance the understanding of coastal margins in general and of the Pacific Northwest coastal margin in particular by creating the scientific infrastructure necessary to obtain reliable quantitative descriptions and analyses of integrated physical, chemical, and biological variables in estuaries, freshwater plumes, and continental shelves. The rationale for this Center is that coastal margins are among the most densely populated and developed regions in the United States. As interface systems between rivers and oceans, coastal margins sustain highly productive ecosystems and resources, are sensitive to many scales of variability, and play a key role in global elemental cycles. There is a critical need for better understanding of coastal margins and the stresses placed on them by natural events and human activities. This proposed STC is timely in the emerging context of NSF and national initiatives on ocean-observing systems and will provide the leadership, long-term commitment, and intellectual critical mass of a STC is necessary to enable researchers to focus effectively on transformative technological and scientific opportunities to solve major science questions on coastal margins. STC research will be driven by grand challenges in coastal margin understanding: How do climate and climate change impact coastal margins? What roles do coastal margins play in global elemental cycles? How far seaward do human activities impact ecosystems? Research will be organized into 3 overlapping themes: I. Coastal Margin Observatories, where the STC will generate crucially needed, long-term physical, chemical, and biological information through tightly integrated observations and predictions; II. Coastal Margin Science, where environmental information products will be used to gain novel understanding of ecosystem variability and connectivity, through the exploration of 4 hypotheses addressing the variability of microbial communities, biological productivity, and carbon fluxes with climate and water use; and III. Enabling Technologies, where technological challenges to long-term observations and simulations will be overcome by developing, evaluating, and enhancing enabling technologies in: (a) modeling and simulation; (b) sensors and platforms, and (c) information and visualization. A combination of long-term core projects and annually funded seed, augmentation, and integrative projects will allow the STC to maintain a balance between continuity and flexibility of research efforts. To prepare students including females and underrepresented minorities for careers in science, industry, and management, the STC will offer multiple educational opportunities. The objective is to foster a long-term educational pipeline by developing in K-12 students a lifelong interest in science and technology, by creating opportunities for college students to integrate research and industry experiences in their studies, and by preparing graduate students for leadership in their careers. Knowledge Transfer: The STC will engage a spectrum of stakeholders in a multi-directional exchange of information. In particular, the STC will: (a) be an intellectual magnet and a resource for the ocean-sciences community and for such disciplines as information sciences and molecular biology to help shape next-generation oceanography; (b) enable industries to work with researchers and educators, as opposed to just serving as vendors and contractors; and (c) lend expertise and scientific information to regional and federal agencies for management of PNW coastal margin resources. Intellectual Merit: The STC will create a coastal margin observatory, as its primary infrastructure for research, education, and knowledge transfer. This observing system will be a configurable integration of heterogeneous modeling systems and observation networks, designed to remove a fundamental barrier to coastal margin science: the lack of long-term descriptions and analyses of physical, chemical, and biological parameters. While other ocean-sciences observatories exist or are planned (e.g., LEO-15, VENUS, MARS), this system will be unique in its integration of river-to-ocean environments and in the multiplicity and level of coordination of its components and enabling technologies, including new approaches to sensing. The proposed science addresses challenging hypotheses and relates regional ecosystem variability to climate and water use in PNW coastal margins. The expectation of transformative understanding is high due to improved capabilities of observation and prediction, and due to the proposed mechanistic, molecular-level approaches to understand the structure, activity and response to environmental stress of microbial communities. Broader Impacts: Coastal margins have enormous economic and social importance, they are highly vulnerable to change, and their complexity makes a balanced management of marine resources and societal needs difficult: (a) Economic and social importance: Coastal areas comprise less than 20% of the contiguous US, but support more than 50% of the US population. Over a trillion dollars of coastal infrastructure are deployed in the US alone every year; (b) Vulnerability: Natural and man-made hazards in coastal areas cost the US more than $2 billion annually. In addition, reduction of wild salmon diversity in the PNW is a dramatic example of ecosystem vulnerabilities that can only be defused by anticipating impacts decades before their manifestation; and (c) Complexity: The complexity of coastal margins presents enormous challenges for the sustainable management of one of the most productive environments available to humans challenges that the proposed STC will help society meet.

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

Coastal margins are critical ecosystems at the interface of land and ocean. Their aggregate services—from filtering pollutants to producing natural resources and enabling economic development—are essential for the sustainability of humans and the planet at local and global scales. But climate change and growing local pressures are altering coastal margins, with deep ecological and societal implications.

At the core of the CMOP vision is a place-based infrastructure for research, education and outreach on coastal margins that we call a “collaboratory”. The term captures the open and collaborative nature of an infrastructure that allows the knowledge base for a system to grow from study-to-study and to be effectively disseminated among multiple user communities. Our geographic focus is the Columbia River estuary in a coastal margin where hydropower management, navigation, ecosystem restoration and salmon recovery are competing societal priorities.

With the SATURN collaboratory ( we demonstrated the power of a new estuarine science paradigm. By tightly integrating an observation network, a computer modeling system, open-access information flows, and diverse user communities, we shortened the cycle from hypotheses to data and analysis; reduced the cost-of-entry in estuarine science of people from different backgrounds in science, management or policy; reduced redundancy; and catalyzed communication among scientists, practitioners and educators.


  • We developed an extensive observational network anchored on interdisciplinary endurance stations continuously measuring physical and biogeochemical variables. The data offer insights into estuarine processes and enable improved computer models; characterize estuarine variability; and establish a baseline for future changes.
  • We created a system of high-resolution estuarine models that have been extensively assessed and iteratively improved. Models describe estuarine hydrodynamics, carbon and nutrient cycling, ecosystem function and salmon habitat. Some produce operational descriptions, including daily forecasts and nearly two decades of continuous retrospective simulations.


  • Oceanographic vessels and underwater vehicles become nodes with two-way communications, enabling coordinated multi-platform campaigns. Select endurance stations become in-situ laboratories from where scientists can deploy specialized instrumentation triggered by pre-defined estuarine conditions. 
  • Simulations become a virtual estuary where processes and trends can be “observed” in detail. With this, we advanced understanding of water mixing, exchanges and residency, sediment transport and trapping, algal blooms, ecosystem metabolism and salmon habitat; and demonstrated the extreme sensitivity of the estuary to sea level rise. 
  • We embraced discovery science as a powerful scientific paradigm, using observations and simulations to build serendipity knowledge, opportunistic hypotheses and strategic priorities for new data.
  • We conceptualized the estuary’s metabolism as primarily controlled by three biological hotspots: plankton blooms, estuarine turbidity maxima and lateral bays. The estuary functions as a bioreactor when low-to-moderate flows, spring-to-early-fall light conditions and ocean influences combine to allow biological hotspots to be effective.

With the benefit of SATURN, we developed an extensive footprint of collaborations with private, state, federal and tribal stakeholders in the Columbia River, serving as an objective provider of scientific information, data and predictions. In particular:

  • We participated in studies leading to the U.S. Entity Regional Recommendation for the Future of the Columbia River Treaty after 2024, which informs how the US will conduct a Treaty modernization negotiation with Canada for hydropower, flooding and ecosystem health. Outcomes will deeply impact the economy and sustainability of the region.
  • We studied impacts of a large navigation project, enabling state and federal agencies to reach regional consensus on specific issues. 
  • We support multi-agency regional efforts for salmon recovery mandated by the Endangered Species Act. We participate in regional monitoring efforts and our models translate climate, ocean conditions and anthropogenic stresses into salmon-relevant variability and changes in the estuary.

SATURN integrates the Northwest Association of Ocean Observing Systems, the Pacific Northwest (PNW) arm of the US Integrated Ocean Observing System and the Global Ocean Observing System. These are long-term infrastructures for observation, understanding and prediction of the US and world’s oceans across local-to-global scales.

CMOP research and regional outreach catalyzed multiple educational initiatives. At K-12 level, examples include summer internships, camps, and collaborations with schools and teachers. In higher education, our cohorts of undergraduate interns and our graduate students and post-docs were prepared for the challenges and opportunities of fast-evolving technologies, science across institutional and disciplinary boundaries, and broadening participation in ocean sciences.

CMOP used a relationship-based approach to broadening participation. We partnered with the Native American community in the PNW and Alaska, engaging in a two-way exchange of knowledge and culture around common interests in science and environmental stewardship. This left indelible marks in our faculty, staff and students, and has had an impact on tribal communities, including deep-rooted educational partnerships that will persist in evolved forms beyond the period of NSF support. Our work with the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission expanded our research involvement in Native American environmental issues. The Associated Tribes of Northwest Indians recognized our efforts through formal resolutions. 


Last Modified: 12/20/2017
Modified by: Antonio M Baptista

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