The Coastal Pioneer Array is one of five arrays that comprise the Ocean Observatories Initiative, a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded observing system collecting data from more than 900 instruments—including multiple ocean robots at each array—to address questions about the ocean. Since 2016, the Pioneer Array has operated on the New England Shelf, about 75 nautical miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
However, the array was envisioned and designed to be relocatable, in order to investigate important science questions and gather data from different coastal regions. Following the recommendation from an NSF-sponsored community workshop held in 2021, the array will be relocated to the Southern Mid-Atlantic Bight (MAB) in the spring of 2024 to gather data on cross-disciplinary science topics including the exchange of ocean properties such as heat, salt, and nutrients between the continental shelf and the deeper ocean offshore; biogeochemical cycling and transport in the coastal ocean; and extreme events such as hurricanes, winter storms, and freshwater outflows.
Oceanus spoke with Plueddemann, a senior scientist in the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)’s Physical Oceanography Department, about the array and what it will study in the new location. WHOI houses OOI’s program management office and the Coastal and Global Scale Nodes (CGSN) portion of OOI. Plueddemann is the project scientist for CGSN, which includes the Pioneer Array.