OOI Pioneer Array Proposed to Relocate to MAB

UPDATE – Posted August 2023:

Environmental Compliance

NSF’s proposal to relocate the Pioneer Array to the MAB is currently undergoing environmental review.  As part of that process, NSF will comply with various environmental laws and regulatory processes, including but not limited to, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), and the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

NSF is currently preparing NEPA documentation for the Proposed Action which will tier to existing OOI NEPA documentation. When issued, the NEPA documentation for the Pioneer Array relocation to the MAB will be available on the NSF website and the public will be invited to comment on the Proposed Action.  NSF will take into consideration all comments received during the open comment period and through other regulatory processes; comments received will be addressed in final NEPA documentation prepared for the action. 

Additional information about the Proposed Action, including the research and technologies planned, is also available on the project website at: https://oceanobservatories.org/pioneer-array-relocation/

This remainder of this web page is provided to offer historical information on the process that was implemented to gather community feedback on optimizing the Pioneer Array at the proposed new location.

Learn how you can help to optimize the OOI Pioneer Array configuration for its proposed new location!

It’s official, the next proposed location of the OOI (Ocean Observatories Initiative) Coastal Pioneer Array is the Mid-Atlantic Bight (MAB) and the move is proposed to take place in 2024.  The geographic footprint championed during the NSF-sponsored Innovations Lab #1 is the region of the MAB between Cape Hatteras and Norfolk Canyon.  This region offers opportunities to collect data on a wide variety of cross-disciplinary science topics including cross-shelf exchange, land-sea interactions associated with large estuarine systems, a highly productive ecosystem with major fisheries, and carbon cycle processes. This location also offers opportunities to improve our understanding of hurricane development, tracking and prediction, and offshore wind partnerships. 

As background, the OOI has been in full operations since 2016. The OOI Pioneer Array was designed to be relocatable, and in 2020 the Ocean Observatories Initiative Facilities Board (OOIFB) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) launched a process to inform the next OOI Pioneer Array location. During the week of March 15-19, 2021, an Innovations Lab was held to explore possible locations for the Pioneer Array based on scientific questions that require an ocean observatory to advance knowledge. At the Lab, members from the oceanographic community formed teams and worked to ideate and pitch possible locations.  These pitches helped to identify new scientific, educational, and partnership opportunities that could be offered at various locations.  The process helped inform the NSF for proposing the MAB as the next OOI Pioneer Array location.

The next phase of the Pioneer Array planning process is beginning and a Phase 2 Innovations Lab is scheduled for the week of June 21-25, 2021.  The ocean community is invited to help identify new design considerations that can enable exciting research endeavors at the MAB.  Scientists, educators, and other stakeholders are encouraged to apply for the Phase 2 Innovations Lab.

Phase 2 Innovations Lab – June 21-25, 2021

During the Phase 2 Innovations Lab, participants will work to identify the observatory opportunities that can be offered by the proposed MAB Pioneer Array location. A meeting objective will be to explore how the Pioneer Array sensors and platforms can be optimized to achieve science and education goals at the proposed site, based on environmental, logistical, and infrastructural considerations. Challenges presented by deployment of Array infrastructure at the proposed location will be evaluated. Partnership and collaboration potentials at the proposed location will also be discussed.  

The OOIFB, in partnership with KnowInnovations, will facilitate the Phase 2 Innovations Lab. A diverse mix of Lab participants is important to boost the innovation richness and dynamic. The Lab participants will be selected to achieve a broad range of disciplines and professional expertise, career stage (from early to senior), gender, cultural background, and life experience. Involving a wide range of people in the conversations will enrich the innovative quality, outputs, and outcomes of the Lab.  Selected Innovations Lab participants will be announced in early June. 

Participants will meet virtually each day of the week (M-F) for about 5 hours each day. The Phase 2 Innovations Lab Application Form* is available HERE. The application deadline is May 31, 2021. Please note – the deadline has passed and applications are now closed.

* Note: If you were a participant of the Phase I Innovations Lab, please apply for Lab 2 using this shorter form HERE. Please note – the deadline has passed and applications are now closed.

Phase 2 Micro Lab – May 12, 2021 – 1:00 – 2:30 pm EDT

A Micro Lab will be held on May 12, 2021 from 1:00-2:30 pm EDT, where representatives from the National Science Foundation (NSF), OOIFB and science members, along with the current operator of the Pioneer Array will present information about the optimization process, location characteristics, as well as technical details about the Pioneer Array.  Individuals interested in applying for the Phase 2 Innovations Lab are encouraged to attend the Micro Lab.  

The Micro Lab is open to all, but an RSVP is required. If you are interested and and want to learn more, please RSVP here to participate.

Learn more about the Coastal Pioneer Array:

Individuals who are planning to apply for the Phase 2 Innovations Labs should be familiar with the initial Pioneer Array’s capabilities, as well as design and system characteristics that must be considered when planning for a new geographic location. For details, please review the information provided here:

Helpful Resources:

Phase 1 Information and the Pioneer Array Relocation Process

For additional information about the proposed OOI Pioneer Array relocation, as well as information about the Phase 1 process, please click HERE.