During the last 100 years of oceanographic research, scientists have discovered the critical role oceans play in human lives. Yet only a glimpse is available today of the vast, untapped resources and diverse forms of life in oceans. That is about to change, some scientists say.

The first steps have been taken to establish a monitoring system in oceans and eventually develop a central "clearinghouse" to store research data culled from life and physical scientists' efforts, so that researchers the world over can dive in and explore the oceans.

The National Ocean Research Leadership Council (NORLC) in May released a report, "Toward a U.S. Plan for an Integrated, Sustained Ocean Observing System," the initial step in creating the first comprehensive national ocean- observing system. NORLC presented the report to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Conservation, Wildlife, and Oceans. U.S. Reps. Jim Saxton (R-Pa.) and Curt Weldon (R-N.J.), who requested...

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