Ocean Science

Jody W. Deming
University of Washington
Board of Associate Editors

The ocean that defines our blue planet Earth is increasingly subject to the impacts of human activities.  As atmospheric conditions have changed, the ocean has responded, changing in temperature, sea ice cover, sea level, and capacity to absorb and release gases, to acidify and to cycle nutrients. As coastal populations and commercial activities have grown, the ocean has experienced increases in eutrophication, harmful algal blooms, invasive species, dramatic pollution events, and loss of biodiversity. Marine organisms and ecosystems throughout the ocean face multiple environmental challenges; their fates impact human well being in return. Virtually none of the ocean remains pristine as human activities and impacts on its ice, water, and sediments accelerate. Effective ocean policy requires the best possible scientific foundation for understanding the ocean as it functions today, has functioned in the past, and can be expected to change in future. Innovative tools and approaches to studying the ocean bring a new pace of expanding databases to achieve this understanding. The pursuit of ocean science is thus a critical human endeavor. It is also an exciting one, with discovery always on the horizon. Part of human interaction with the ocean is to be awed by its mysteries and emerging clues to larger questions on the origins and evolution of life, the subsurface biosphere, and the physical, chemical and geological underpinnings of the ocean as we know it. Ocean scientists are both rooted in their various disciplines and uniquely skilled at advancing knowledge at the interface of disciplines. A forum is needed to foster and accelerate broad awareness of this knowledge, as it is generated and synthesized, and facilitate the incorporation of new understanding into ocean policy.

The Ocean Science domain seeks to publish original research papers that address all aspects of ocean science, including fundamental, discovery-based and innovative applied research. Papers on findings at the interface of the core disciplines in oceanography (biological, chemical, geological, physical) are especially encouraged. Articles on topics of wide appeal that make clear connections between research findings and problem-solving or policy development are of particular interest. In accordance with the aims and scope of Elementa, the Ocean Science domain fully recognizes the impact of human activity on the ocean, the essential dependency of our well being on its functions and the urgent need to bring new knowledge to immediate and wide attention. We aim to meet the challenge of publishing high quality research papers that can be understood by a well educated but broad audience and can contribute to problem-solving at the local, regional, and global scale of the ocean.

Non-exclusive examples of the type of research topics sought by this domain include:

  • Ecosystem, organism, or biogeochemical responses to a changing environment
  • Responses and feedbacks at ocean boundaries (air-ocean, ice-ocean, land-ocean)
  • Processes, reactions, and adaptations to ocean acidification and other impacts
  • Thresholds and tipping points in critical ocean areas
  • New tools (models, sensors, programs) for improved measurements and predictions
  • Assessment of existing and new approaches to valuing ocean ecosystem functions
  • New economic, regulatory, or policy paradigms for the ocean

Associate Editor Lisa A. Miller explains more about her support for Elementa

Elementa has the potential to be a really valuable resource to both the scientific community and the public, including policy-makers.”


Please tell us a little bit about your position and your areas of research.

I am a chemical oceanographer and Climate Geochemist with the Canadian ministry of Fisheries and Oceans. My research focusses on the air-sea exchange of climatically-active substances, mainly carbon dioxide, but also organic aerosols. I look at how climate impacts the oceanic production and release (versus consumption and absorption) of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and how those processes feed back onto the climate system. This involves the study of biogeochemical processes controlling not only concentrations within the water, but also the actual transport across the air-sea interface, and much of my work has been focused on the biogeochemistry of sea ice and the sea-surface microlayer. 


Why did you decide to become an Associate Editor for Elementa‘s Ocean Science domain?

Jody’s description of the plans for Elementa made it sound like a very worthwhile and interesting endeavor, and I knew that she would be a very good person to work with on this.


What are your thoughts on the quality of the Ocean Science articles already published in Elementa?

I have been very impressed by the quality of the articles, so far. Of course, having had a hand in assuring the quality of those articles, I’m biased…. 


Is it important to you that Elementa is a multidisciplinary journal?

This has proven to be more valuable than I had anticipated. At first, I was disturbed that the articles are being mixed in the list on the website – in most multidisciplinary journals, I usually find that articles outside my immediate fields of interest are too esoteric, and it’s oppressive to have to wade through their titles to find the papers that interest me. However, with Elementa, as more papers have accrued, I have found that I really appreciate having the articles mixed, because so many of them actually are clearly relevant beyond their domains and into mine. I’ve been surprised by how many of the articles from outside the Oceans domain I open and peruse.


Why do you believe that research surrounding human impacts on the atmosphere within the epoch of the Anthropocene to be of significance?

With the possible exception of the search for a cure for cancer, this may be the single most important scientific problem facing our era. Again, I’m biased – it’s what I study, and I wouldn’t be doing it, if I didn’t think it was important. However, it is true that human impacts on the Earth system have the potential to influence nearly every aspect of human experience through climate and health, and our understanding of this complex system is still only rudimentary.


What are your thoughts on the importance of open access journals?

I think this is very important, and not just for scientists working in small institutes in developing countries that cannot afford many journal subscriptions. I do not know how much the general population, interested amateurs or ‘lay scientists’, are actually reading open-access scientific journals. However, from my apocrophyl perspective, it seems that people are becoming more scientifically literate, and it’s hopefully valuable for solid, peer-reviewed science to be available to anyone with the motivation to dig and try to understand these things. Of course, there’s a risk with that – we’ve heard way too many stories in recent years in which a little bit of knowledge in public gadflies has created tremendous difficulty for some climate scientists, but that’s a risk we have to learn to live with and manage.


Do you think it is important that Elementa is a nonprofit publication?

Yes, I do believe that is very important to helping keep publication costs down for individual scientists. Particularly during this period of transition in scientific publishing, there is still a problematic disconnect between the institutional budgets that support publishing. With the rise of open-access journals, libraries are saving money in subscription fees, while individual scientists are having to pay higher publication fees. However, few institutions have figured out how to apply the savings in one area to the higher costs in the other, and some fundamental financial restructuring is necessary. In the meantime, journals like Elementa, that aren’t trying to actually make money out of all this, really help.


Why do you believe that colleagues should consider submitting their papers to Elementa?

I do think that Elementa has the potential to be a really valuable resource to both the scientific community and the public, including policy-makers. We have some distance to go, before we get there, but we’re on the correct path. Unlike many new journals that have arisen over the last decade, journals where none of the names of the editors are recognizable, Elementa is, indeed, a real journal, being edited by real scientists, and we are publishing high-quality papers of broad significance. I understand why some of my colleagues are hesitant to let their students submit to Elementa – it’s not yet clear that we will indeed ‘take’ and become the force we hope to be. However, we are attracting papers from established scientists with substantial stature, and that bodes well for our future. As long as we keep up the hard work.


Editor-in-Chief Jody W. Deming introduces the Ocean Science domain

Jody W. Deming launches the Ocean Science domain

“I am delighted to launch the Ocean Science domain with Commentaries and Research Articles written by oceanographers who are leaders in their fields.”

I am delighted to launch the Ocean Science domain with Commentaries and Research Articles written by oceanographers who are leaders in their fields.  These writings explore the critical topics of the day, from the changing Arctic Ocean (Kevin Arrigo) to ocean acidification in the Pacific Ocean (Jeremy Mathis and Dick Feely) to the impacts of the BP oil spill on coral life in the deep Gulf of Mexico (Chuck Fisher and colleagues).  An insightful Commentary addressing energy capture by the ocean (Dave Karl) will soon be joining these lead-off pieces, with other manuscripts in the pipeline that address evolutionary responses to ocean acidification, human impacts at the river-ocean interface, and policy issues for ocean navigation.  The first special feature in the Ocean Science domain will address one of the ocean’s most productive ecosystems, where ice meets the sea in coastal Antarctica, in a linked series of articles on the project called ASPIRE (led by Tish Yager), for Amundsen Sea Polynya International Research Expedition, jointly funded by the US National Science Foundation and the Swedish Research Council. Please join us in this new, open-access, interdisciplinary and international publishing venture by submitting your research to the Ocean Science domain.



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