OPL’s Projects

Map of OPL Study Sites

Our studies have primarily utilized advanced instrumentation deployed on moorings, ships and other platforms including R/P FLIP. Mooring sites are shown in the map below. For specific project information, click on project names on the map below. Brief summaries of select projects are also provided below.

Project Map



PAST Funded Projects

  • Chief of Naval Operations/Secretary of the Navy Chair in Oceanographic Science (2008 – present)
    Professor Dickey is one of 12 ocean scientists to become a Secretary of the Navy/Chief of Naval Operations Chair of Oceanographic Sciences since the inception of the program in 1984. Professor Dickey is focusing his research as a SECNAV/CNO Chair in the areas of ocean responses to hurricanes, mesoscale eddies, and optical variability forced by ocean dynamics. The latter topic involved the Office of Naval Research (ONR) field experiments in the Santa Barbara Channel in summer 2008 and off Hawaii in summer 2009. More information concerning Chair may be found under Honors on the OPL website Home page (left column).
  • Radiance in a Dynamic Ocean (RaDyO) (2005 – 2012)
    The RaDyO project was funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Tommy Dickey was the lead PI for RaDyO.
    Field experiments were conducted at Scripps Pier (2007), in the Santa Barbara Channel (2008), and south of the Big Island of Hawaii in August and September, 2009.
    The primary goals of the ONR-sponsored Radiance in a Dynamic Ocean (RaDyO) program were to:

    1. Examine time-dependent oceanic radiance distribution in relation to dynamic surface boundary layer (SBL) processes.
    2. Construct a radiance-based SBL model across the air-sea interfaces, particularly for imagery.
    3. Validate the model with field observations.
    4. Investigate the feasibility of inverting the model to yield SBL conditions.

    See the RaDyO project page and RaDyO project FTP site.

  • Bermuda Testbed Mooring (BTM) (1993 – 2008; [NSF,ONR,NOAA, NASA])
    The Bermuda Testbed Mooring project was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Office of Naval Research (ONR), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Ocean Partnership Program (NOPP). Tommy Dickey was the lead-PI of the BTM program. The BTM was located about 80 km southeast of Bermuda. It collected data at that location from 1994 into 2008. The BTM mooring was supported by a 3-m buoy that contains a full suite of meteorological, physical, chemical, and optical instruments. Subsurface sampling included currents, temperature, salinity, apparent and inherent optical properties, nutrients, and trace metals. Goals of this project were two-fold:
    (1) Collect and analyze oceanographic data in an area where measurements have been made since 1950. Using BTM data, we conducted detailed studies on nutrient fluxes due to eddies, effects of hurricanes on physical, optical, and biogeochemical properties, ocean color satellite groundtruthing, and theoretical optics. (2) Provide the oceanographic community with a deep-water platform for developing, testing, calibrating, and intercomparing instruments and real-time data telemetry methods. Several articles in the OPL publications section of this website are devoted to BTM results. See the Bermuda Testbed Mooring project page and the BTM Satellite Images page.
  • Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS) (2004 – 2008)
    The SCCOOS: Shelf to Shoreline Observatory Development project was funded by National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). Grace Chang was the lead P.I. of the project. Co-PI was Erika McPhee-Shaw. The OPL part of the project entailed the deployment of a mooring in 80 m water depth in the Santa Barbara Channel for operational oceanography including: monitoring coastal water quality; and observing the evolution of harmful algal blooms, climate variability, and El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) related processes. Mooring time series spanning the water column captured temporal variations to monitor the effects of interannual variation on pollutant delivery, erosion, and re-distribution of sediment and contaminants, and changes in the vertical hydrographic and current structures and their effects on nutrient and particle transport from deep waters to shallow surface waters. High resolution time series measurements telemetered in real-time from moorings can be used by managers and those responsible for the health and well being of the coastal zone. See the SCCOOS project page and the Official SCCOOS webpage, as well as the Southern California Bight Satellite Images page.
  • China (2003-2004)
    We were working with the Second Institute of Oceanography in Hangzhou, China to develop bio-optical systems for moored deployment.
  • Multi-disciplinary Ocean Sensors for Environmental Analyses and Networks (MOSEAN) (2002 – 2008)
    The MOSEAN project was funded by the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP). Tommy Dickey was the lead PI and Co-PIs included Casey Moore (WET Labs, Inc.), Al Hanson (SubChem and U. Rhode Island), and Dave Karl (U. Hawaii). Two moorings were used for MOSEAN: (1) Coastal mooring in the Santa Barbara Channel in <25 m water depth, and (2) Deep-water mooring off Hawaii near the HOT site, >4000 m. Scientific goals in the SB Channel include investigation of particulate dynamics through optics, optical detection and characterization of harmful algal blooms, and effects of physical processes on chemical and bio-optical properties. The Hawaii research goals encompassed understanding of coupled physical-biogeochemical variability associated with processes on scales of hours to years and included capturing mesoscale eddy events. Our technological goals were to develop relatively small, lightweight optical and chemical sensors for autonomous deployment and real-time data telemetry. See the MOSEAN project page or the U. of Hawaii HOT site. Also, see the SB Satellite Images and the Hawaii Satellite Images pages.
  • Hawaii Eddies (2002 – 2007)
    The HI Eddies project called E-FLUX was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The lead P.I. of the project was Claudia Benitez-Nelson. Co-P.I.s were Robert Bidigare, Tommy Dickey, Mike Landry, and Carrie Leonard. The goal of E-Flux was to characterize the physical properties, estimate the primary productivity, quantify new production and export, investigate biomass and grazer influences, and compute growth associated with persistant eddies off Hawaii. Methods included remote sensing; ship-based drifters and transects of profiles (CTD + rosette, optics package); sediment traps; and laboratory experiments. Cruises occurred in November 2004, and January and March 2005. A special volume of Deep-Sea Research (2008) was devoted to E-Flux and another eddy experiment off Bermuda. See the Hawaii Eddy project pageand the Hawaii Satellite Images page.
  • Japan Marine Science and Technology Center (JAMSTEC) (2002 – 2004)
    OPL was funded through Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) to develop bio-optical instrument systems for JAMSTEC. Our systems were deployed on two moorings in the Japan Sea for over 400 days continuously without bio-fouling. The bio-optical sensor packages have since been transitioned to the commercial sector.
  • UC Mexus (2001 – 2003)
    The UC Mexus project was a collaboration between University of California and investigators in Mexico. Our collaborator was Luis Alvarez of CICESE. The project involved deployment of physical and optical sensors in the Gulf of Mexico to investigate sediment resuspension due to tidal forcing.
  • Hyperspectral Coastal Ocean Dynamics Experiment (HyCODE) (1999 – 2004)
    HyCODE was an interdisciplinary, multi-institutional project funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Tommy Dickey was the lead P.I. of the project. We utilized a shallow-water mooring off the coast of New Jersey to understand the diverse processes controlling inherent optical properties (IOPs) in the coastal ocean. Specifically, we were investigating effects of river plumes, coastal jets, fronts, and tides on optical properties; groundtruthing of ocean color satellites; optical instrumentation closure; and effects of optical properties on radiant heating rates. See the OPL HyCODE project page or the Official ONR HyCODE site.
  • Ocean Systems for Chemical, Optical and Physical Experiments (OSCOPE) (1998-2002)
    The O-SCOPE project (Tommy Dickey was lead PI), funded by the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP), involved academic, government and private laboratories. Project goals were to develop next-generation autonomous real-time interdisciplinary (chemical, bio-optical and physical) long-term time series systems. These systems were deployed on the BTM, NOPP station “P”, and the MOOS moorings in Monterey Bay in 1999. See the OSCOPE project page.
  • Littoral Ocean Observing and Predictive System (LOOPS) (1997-1998)
    The Littoral Ocean Observing and Predictive System project was funded through NOPP. This project involved partners from academia, government laboratories, and industry for the development of the scientific and technical conceptual basis of a generally applicable interdisciplinary littoral ocean observing system. A modular structural concept for linking, with feedbacks, dynamical models and measurements via data assimilation were developed, with an emphasis upon adaptive sampling, flexibility and portability. An important aspect of the program was the use of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and other platforms for a study in Massachusetts and Cape Cod Bays.
  • NASA SIMBIOS (1997-2000)
    The BTM was equipped with optical instruments to measure optical properties and downward spectral irradiance with a goal of developing moorings-of-opportunity for groundtruthing ocean color satellites such as SeaWiFS. The project was funded by the NASA SIMBIOS program.
  • Coastal Mixing and Optics (CMO) (1995-2000)
    The Coastal Mixing and Optics project was funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR). The CMO mooring site was located about 110 km south of Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Subsurface sampling included currents, temperature, salinity, apparent and inherent optical properties. The main objective of our research was to determine how particles and optical properties respond to physical forcing under various oceanic conditions on a broad continental shelf off the east coast of the U.S. Hurricane Edouard passed the OPL mooring providing an interesting realization of intense atmospheric forcing of the coastal ocean and its physical and optical responses. A special volume of the Journal of Geophysical Research describes several OPL results. See the Coastal Mixing and Optics project page.
  • Arabian Sea (1994-1998)
    The Arabian Sea project was funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the National Science Foundation JGOFS program. A mooring-based time series of physical and bio-optical variables and complementary data were collected during the Arabian Sea Process Study in 1994-1995. The primary goal of this project was to investigate the effects of physical processes on primary productivity and biogeochemical fluxes in the Arabian Sea. A special volume of Deep-Sea Research describes some of the OPL results. See the Arabian Sea project page.
  • Mamala Bay, Hawaii (1994-1995)
    OPL was funded by the Mamala Bay Study Commission to investigate dilution and dispersion of the Sand Island sewage plume in Mamala Bay, Hawaii. See the Mamala Bay project page.
  • Mediterranean Sea Flux Study (Medflux) (1992-1994)
    A mooring was deployed in cooperation with IFREMER (France) off Marseille to exam high temporal variability of physical and optical properties with Isabelle Taupier-Letage (IFREMER, Toulon).
  • Pacific Outfall (1992-1994)
    The Pacific Outfall research was sponsored by NOAA’s Sea Grant program. The work focused on the trajectories of ocean sewage outfall waters emitted off of Palos Verdes, CA. In addition, sediment resuspension events were shown to be caused by incoming internal solitary waves.
  • JGOFS Equatorial Pacific (1991-1993)
    The OPL contribution to the JGOFS equatorial Pacific study focused on high resolution physical and biogeochemical time series observations using a NOAA mooring located at 0, 140W and was funded by NOAA. The observations elucidated the role of tropical instability waves and both El Nino and non-El Nino conditions on primary productivity during the JGOF regional experiment.
  • Marine Light in the Mixed Layer (MLML) (1988-1993)
    MLML built upon the Biowatt program (below) and also concerned upper ocean physical relationships with optical and bioluminescent signals. The field experiment used a mooring during field experiments south of Iceland in 1989 and 1991.
  • Biowatt (1986-1990)
    Biowatt was sponsored by ONR and focused on optical and bioluminescent processes of the upper ocean in 1986 and 1987. OPL utilized a profiling drifter and a mooring in the North Atlantic during field experiments. Episodic events as well as seasonal transitions were studied.
  • Optical Dynamics Experiment (ODEX) (1983-1984)
    The ONR-sponsored project utilized R/P FLIP to study the physical and optical variability of the North Pacific. The diel cycle, net longwave radiation, and spectral diffuse attenuation were examined with resulting publications.

Earlier projects are listed in Professor Dickey’s website CV