The committee's recommendation for establishing a permanent independent research laboratory on the East Coast to "prosecute oceanography in all its branches" led to the founding in 1930 of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. A $3 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation supported the summer work of a dozen scientists, construction of a laboratory building and commissioning of a research vessel, the 142-foot ketch Atlantis, whose profile still forms the Institution's logo.
WHOI grew substantially to support significant defense-related research during World War II, and later began a steady growth in staff, research fleet, and scientific stature. Over the years, WHOI scientists have made discoveries about the ocean that have contributed to improving our commerce, health, national security, and quality of life. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, independent, not-for-profit corporation dedicated to research and higher education at the frontiers of ocean science.
Its primary mission is to develop and effectively communicate a fundamental understanding of the processes and characteristics governing how the oceans function and how they interact with the Earth as a whole. It is the goal of the Institution to be a world leader in advancing and communicating a basic understanding of the oceans and their decisive role in addressing global questions.
For more information: www.whoi.edu
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…" With an annual budget of about $5.5 billion, they are the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America's colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing. This project is funded by the Informal Science Education branch of NSF, through grant number ESI-0632219.
For more information: www.nsf.gov
International Polar Year
There have been a number of major international science initiatives in Polar Regions since the first International Polar Year in 1882-83 and all have had a major influence in overhauling our understanding of global processes in these important areas. These initiatives have involved an intense period of interdisciplinary research, collecting a broad range of measurements that provide a snapshot in time of the state of the polar regions. The last such initiative was the International Geophysical Year in 1957-58, involving 80,000 scientists from 67 countries.
It produced unprecedented exploration and discoveries in many fields of research and fundamentally changed how science was conducted in the polar regions. Fifty years on, technological developments such as earth observation satellites, autonomous vehicles and molecular biology techniques offer enormous opportunities for a further quantum step upwards in our understanding of polar systems. An IPY in 2007-2008 also affords an opportunity to engage the upcoming generation of young Earth System scientists and to get the public to realize just how much the cold ends of the sphere we all live on really do influence us. To ensure that researchers get the opportunity to work in both polar regions or work summer and winter if they wish, the Polar Year will actually run from March 2007-March 2009.
This project is endorsed by the IPY Programme Office through the registered Expression of Intent #1169.
Awards and Recognition
Polar Discovery received The Gold Award in 2007 from the World Wide Web Awards. As one of World's peak internet bodies, the Awards of The World Wide Web Awards™ are amongst the most prestigious available and hence, amongst some of the more difficult to win on the web.