Plenary: Operational Oceanography

Operational Oceanography

Wednesday, October 7

Operational Oceanography is defined as the activity of systematic and long-term routine measurements of the seas, ocean and atmosphere, the assimilation and modeling of these measurements, providing spatially continuous nowcast, forecast and hindcast fields across the many time and space scales of ocean phenomena.  Temporal requirements range from 100’s of years plus for deep water bathymetry and geoacoustics to twice daily for ocean temperature and currents.  Finally, rapid dissemination of actionable knowledge products enabling operational decisions.  The equivalent on the weather side can be thought of as running GFS/FV3 and the local weather stations developing their forecast, which disseminated to the public and local officials for on-scene decisions. 

This capability supports national security, commerce, economic and public safety applications e.g. placement of national strategic assets, including, but limited to acoustic performance prediction, search and rescue, surge forecasting, optimal ship routing, long-term seal level forecasting and climate studies.  

The ability to deliver and sustain an operational ocean model at all required spatial and temporal scales requires: 

  • Global sensing infrastructure (e.g. satellites, drifting buoys, buoyancy gliders, ship observations);
  • High bandwidth global communications
  • Supercomputing infrastructure;
  • Efficient physics based models and assimilation algorithms;
  • Accurate boundary conditions (e.g. atmosphere, bathymetry);
  • Wide variety of decimation products for a broad user base.  

All of the above requirements present their own challenges.  The purpose of the plenary session and panel discussion is to define the status, challenges and future direction of operational oceanography from national security, commercial/economic and climate study perspectives.

Speaker: Rear Admiral John Okon
Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command

Rear Adm. John A. Okon grew up in Syracuse, New York, and graduated from the State University of New York Maritime College at Fort Schuyler in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science in Meteorology and Oceanography. He holds master’s degrees in meteorology and physical oceanography from the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, California, and in national security studies from the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.

Upon commissioning, he initially served as a surface warfare officer and transferred to naval oceanography in 1995. He now serves as a member of the Navy’s Information Warfare Community.

At sea, Okon served aboard USS Ticonderoga (CG 47) as first lieutenant, administrative officer and navigator and aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) as meteorologist and oceanographer.

Ashore, he served as optimum track ship router at the Naval Atlantic Meteorology and Oceanography Center; aide to commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command; operations officer and executive assistant to the deputy director for regional operations, Joint Staff; senior oceanography assignment and placement officer, Navy Personnel Command; and executive assistant to the deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare and director of naval intelligence.

Okon commanded Naval Oceanography Antisubmarine Warfare Center in Yokosuka, Japan, and Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center in Monterey.

Personal awards include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal and various personal, campaign and service awards.

Speaker: Dr. Ruth Perry
Marine Scientist and Regulatory Policy Specialist, Shell Exploration and Production Americas

Dr. Ruth Perry is a Marine Scientist and Regulatory Policy specialist responsible for offshore marine environmental policy for Shell Exploration and Production Americas teams. In this capacity, Perry integrates marine science and ocean technology into regulatory policy advocacy and decision-making in the areas of marine sound, marine spatial planning, ocean observing, and marine mammal and life science, primarily in the Gulf of Mexico. Perry is also responsible for helping Shell to develop public-private science collaborations, such as real-time monitoring programs, to improve industry’s knowledge of the offshore marine environment. Ruth also works with the oil and gas industry trade associations’ to develop and implement joint industry programs for offshore environmental monitoring and to help increase understanding of the effect of sound on marine life generated by oil and gas exploration and production activities. Her recent projects with Shell include working with NOAA and University of Southern Mississippi to deploy autonomous underwater vehicles to better understand oceanographic environment relative to storm and hurricane intensity and establishing a long term deep sea (~3000m) time series station to monitor ocean water column at Shell’s Stones project.

Previously, Perry was a research scientist with the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System and Geochemical and Environmental Research Group at Texas A&M University, where she was worked on the implementation of a regional glider network, developing ocean science outreach for coastal communities, and incorporating geospatial techniques with remote sensing and ocean observing to study Gulf environmental hazards, such as hypoxia, and the effect of physical ocean processes on marine mammal distributions. Ruth has over 10 years of ocean technology research and system implementation, field experience and ocean policy analysis , including research cruises to monitor coastal hypoxia and the offshore physical environment, deploying and operating ocean observing systems and marine mammal observing in the Gulf of Mexico, Ecuador, and the Galapagos Islands.

Perry, who earned a doctorate in Oceanography from Texas A&M University in 2013, joined Shell in 2014 and is based in Houston.

Speaker: Arthur J. (“A.J.”) Reiss
Ocean Prediction Center

A.J. Reiss is the Director of the Ocean Prediction Center (OPC) located in College Park, Maryland and responsible for its mission to provide the world’s best marine forecasts and critical decision support services for mariners in the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Through early, accurate and actionable warnings of extreme maritime weather, OPC helps sustain the nation’s 2+ trillion dollar Blue Economy by enabling mariners to make better decisions that prevent catastrophic loss of life and property at sea and the costly environmental disasters that can accompany them. OPC’s products and services fulfill U.S. responsibilities to the World Meteorological Organization and Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS).

A.J. is a retired Navy Captain who served most of his career as a Meteorology and Oceanography officer. After early and mid-career shipboard assignments on a frigate and aircraft carrier, he was privileged to command a navy maritime weather center and the navy’s largest operational oceanography center. His last tours in the Navy were on the Oceanographer of the Navy’s staff and at the Office of Naval Research.

A.J. earned his Master’s in Air & Ocean Physical Sciences from the Naval Postgraduate School, and a Bachelor’s in Naval Science and Oceanography from the U.S. Naval Academy. He is from the suburbs of Akron, Ohio but confides that he did most of his growing up on a fishing boat on Lake Erie. These days, he still finds dignity and wonder in all, but really enjoys spending time with his family– ideally outdoors and anywhere near the ocean!