PROGRAM TITLE:	Ocean Margins Program (OMP)
ACTIVITY STREAM:	Processes
SCIENCE ELENENT:	Biogeochemical Dynamics

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

DESCRIPTION:  The Department of Energy has traditionally supported long-
term interdisciplinary studies of coastal ocean systems as part of its concern 
for the dispersal and fate of energy-related materials in the environment.  In 
response to a review conducted by the National Research Council's Ocean 
Studies Board Committee on the Coastal Ocean, the DOE restructured its 
regional coastal-ocean programs into a new Ocean Margins Program (OMP) 
during FY 1992.  The primary objectives of the OMP are to: (1) quantify the 
ecological and biogeochemical processes and mechanisms that affect the 
cycling, flux, and storage of carbon and other biogenic elements at the 
land/ocean interface;  (2) define ocean-margin sources and sinks in global 
biogeochemical cycles; and, (3) determine whether continental shelves are 
quantitatively significant in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere 
and isolating it via burial in sediments or export to the interior ocean.

To meet these objectives, research is being supported to:  (1) quantify the 
physical, biogeochemical, plant, animal, and microbial mechanisms, 
processes, and interactions that affect the input, assimilation, and 
transformation of carbon in coastal waters and sediments; and (2) develop 
and apply new instrumentation and molecular biological techniques to obtain 
high frequency in-situ measurements of the environmental and biological 
factors affecting carbon fluxes in the ocean.  The OMP approach involves 
conducting studies along the U.S. continental shelves, utilizing instrument 
moorings and ship tracks to measure watermass movements, currents, and 
upwelling dynamics; spatial and temporal concentrations of chemical species 
and particles; biological productivity, ecological dynamics, and consumption 
within lower-level food chains; and biogeochemical fluxes of organic 
particles, nutrients, and mineral phases in the water-column and sediments.   
Future plans involve melding this research into a field program to assess the 
exchange of carbon and other biogenic elements between estuarine systems, 
the shelf, and the interior ocean near Cape Hatteras, NC, where burial and 
cross-shelf exchange is expected to be maximum.

STAKEHOLDERS:  The DOE Ocean Margins Program is linked with the U.S. 
JGOFS and GLOBEC Programs because there is compelling evidence that the 
input of nutrients to coastal areas from both land-based sources (via rivers) 
and interior-ocean sources (via coastal upwelling and frontal exchange), cause 
as much as 50% of the total primary production of the global ocean to occur 
along the ocean margins.  As a result, these areas may play an important role 
in the cycling and flux of CO2 and biogenic elements within the global ocean.  
The OMP and its scientific researchers are also interacting with IGBP's LOICZ 
Program and several U.S. Agency programs concerned with quantifying the  
processes that affect the transport and fate of water, carbon, nutrients, biota, 
sediments, and pollutants in changing coastal environments, including EPA, 
MMS, NASA, NOAA, ONR, and NSF's Program on Coastal Ocean Processes.

SHORT-TERM POCICY PAYOFFS:  Quantitative information on the flux and 
fate of CO2 and biogenic elements at the land/ocean interface is important for 
the IPCC and other integrated assessments of sources and sinks in the global 
carbon cycle.  In addition, quantitative information on coastal processes 
underpins policy decisions on resource management in changing coastal 
areas.

PROGRAM CONTACT:  Curtis R. Olsen, DOE, ER-74, Washington, DC 20585, 
301-903-5329