Consensus Report

Exploration of the Seas: Interim Report (2003)

Each report is produced by a committee of experts selected by the Academy to address a particular statement of task and is subject to a rigorous, independent peer review; while the reports represent views of the committee, they also are endorsed by the Academy. Learn more on our expert consensus reports.

Seventy percent of our blue planet is covered by oceans. Progress has been made in understanding the role of oceans in climate change, locating energy reserves, revealing new life forms, and describing the flow of carbon through these systems. However, it may be time to catapult our understanding to new levels by undertaking an interdisciplinary, international, global ocean exploration program. This interim report outlines the committee's vision for a future international global ocean exploration program. This report also details recommendations for technological needs and capabilities, funding levels, and management structures to ensure a productive and successful ocean exploration program.

Key Messages

  • The Committee is considering a variety of options, one of which is creating a national program for ocean exploration to be operated by a non-governmental organization.
  • The ocean is critical to humankind and is increasingly affected by human actions: the ocean influences global climate, is threatened by pollution, overfishing, and habitat degradation. It affects human activity as it influences climate and contains unknown amounts of biological, chemical, and mineral resources, and priceless relics of our maritime past.