For decades, oceanography was severely constrained by data availability, but now we are drowning in a flood of data. Oceanography has been revolutionized through the development of new observing technologies (eg. satellites, autonomous floats, and gliders) that deliver vast amounts of data every day. Alongside these observations, a new class of of numerical models has emerged which simulate the ocean with ever increasing detail and realism. While new measurements are undoubtedly important, it is also true that most existing data remains severely unexploited due to the challenges of finding, acquiring, processing, and visualizing the large, complex, heterogeneous datasets. To leverage our past investments in ocean observations and modeling, and to fully exploit new observations, we must transform our infrastructure and tools for working with ocean data.
To meet this challenge, we need an international collaboration to accelerate the development of cloud-based data infrastructure for oceanography: OpenOceanCloud. This partnership between universities, research institutes, and industry will leverage open data, open-source software, and cloud computing to build a collaboration platform that can be used by students and researchers across the world. Currently, data intensive ocean research is only accessible to privileged institutions with the resources for high performance computing and data storage. OpenOceanCloud will break down this barrier, providing a research platform to the thousands of potential oceanographers who lack such resources. Access to vast data sets and powerful computing environments can help remove the barriers related to low-bandwidth internet, intermittent power, and limited cyber infrastructure. With this infrastructure, anyone can do science, anywhere, and this empowers communities that have been historically excluded from full participation in oceanography.