Over 1,242 scientists and technologists and over 100 technology exhibitors attended OCEANS 2018 Charleston, South Carolina to learn about protecting our communities and preserving our oceans. In addition, nearly 450 technical presentations, multiple special sessions and panels, a competitive and non-competitive student posters, and professional development opportunities supported participants’ understanding and education about the state of marine and coastal science and technology during the conference. Charleston’s history, economy, and experience in living with the ocean made it an ideal location for learning about and discussing ocean processes and health, coastal community resilience to hazards, and sustainable commerce.
OCEANS 2018 ensured that science leads the way, especially when solving difficult local problems around flooding and energy. And, making technology simpler, cheaper, and more accurate means we can more thoroughly inform local leaders and scientists. Co-sponsored by the Marine Technology Society and the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society, OCEANS 2018 Charleston is the 63rd installment of the international biennial OCEANS conference. Participants included 1242 global marine technologists, scientists, engineers, students, government officials, and lawyers. Consistent with the conference theme, “Healthy Oceans, Resilient Coasts, Robust Commerce…Strong Nations,” the technical program focused on innovations and advances across more than 128 sessions, more than 450 speakers, and numerous special sessions.
Although all of the plenary sessions contributed to the conference objectives, four were especially interesting. In one, Rear Admiral (RDML) Timothy Gallaudet addressed the question, “How is research via ships helping us learn and change things for our communities?” Through a hosted remote conversation among the crew aboard the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer and the Research Vessel Atlantis, RDML Gallaudet led a discussion with researchers about ocean exploration, what we’re learning, and how it’s helping our communities. (RDML Timothy Gallaudet, Ph.D. USN Retired is Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere.)
Dr. Peter Haugan addressed the question, “How are oceans changing the world and what is the future for our oceans from an international perspective?” Dr. Haugan, Chair of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, ensured that the discussion addressed questions about community changes in the immediate future and about the longer-term challenges and opportunities as oceans change our world.
Dr. Anne Cope (MD, PE) considered, “How do we apply scientific research to address regional and local coastal resilience challenges?” Dr. Cope also considered the performance of full-scale homes and commercial structures, building materials and construction practices during natural catastrophe conditions such as hurricanes, as well as ongoing efforts to implement solutions in real-world communities to make them more resilient.
Finally, Rear Admiral Michael Silah, led a discussion about the role of space in ocean research. Rear Admiral (RADM) Silah, Director of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps and NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, addressed questions about information from satellites and from the research conducted on the International Space Station. He also moderated a live discussion with NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor (MD), who is currently stationed on the International Space Station and is studying our oceans from space.
As Christian de Moustier, president of the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society, wrote in the press release, “As coastal communities in the Carolinas and the Florida panhandle strive to recover from 2018 hurricanes Florence and Michael, OCEANS 2018 Charleston provides a timely and critical opportunity for marine scientists and engineers and policymakers to assess our knowledge and understanding of our ocean planet.”