An Urgent Mandate that Spans Disciplines and Institutions

It is not possible to overstate the importance of the oceans to the future of life on this planet. The reciprocal effect of the oceans on Earth’s climate and of climate change on the health of the oceans presents crucial challenges. The sea level is rising. Arctic ice is melting. The increasing pollution and acidification of the oceans could endanger marine life, ecosystems, and the economies dependent upon them. Just as important, we have yet to tap the ocean’s full potential as a source of solutions to many of the planet’s pressing challenges.

We must observe and quantify what is happening to our oceans, devise ways of harnessing the ocean’s bounty without damaging it, and contribute to the framing of innovative public policies that take into consideration a deep understanding of marine processes, climate change, ocean engineering, trade, economics, alternative energy innovations, and myriad other fields and industries.

The Oceans at MIT initiative is the strategic integration of MIT and WHOI resources to address the problems and the possibilities inherent in our oceans. Collaboration is key. Marine biologists must work with mechanical engineers to develop robots to explore the deepest regions of the oceans. Energy experts must work with entrepreneurs to commercialize alternative forms of energy. Climatologists must work with public policy experts to regulate emissions. Oceans at MIT brings subject experts like these together across disciplines and institutions to achieve more than they ever could in isolation.

Here’s What We’re Investigating


Ocean Engineering

Exploration of the oceans presents profound technological challenges, but with innovations in areas like shipbuilding, robotics, sonar systems, and computation, engineers are making ocean research possible. arrowmore

The Coastal Oceans

Coastal oceans are critical because they harbor especially diverse ecosystems and are the site of the world’s great fisheries. Since most of humanity lives in coastal regions, the oceans directly affect us, are the most modified, and the most subject to natural and industrial disaster. arrowmore

Life in the Oceans

The ocean represents our planet’s largest habitat and supports more than half of all species on Earth. We are studying how life evolved in the ocean and the ways in which life in the sea is an integral part of Earth’s biosphere.  We are also trying to understand the impact of, and reasons behind, the global decline of fish stocks and coral reefs. arrowmore

Oceans and Climate

The ocean carries heat, carbon, and water around the globe, interacting with the atmosphere, the biosphere, and the polar ice caps in ways that we are only just beginning to observe and understand. We are studying how the oceans and their ecosystems have reached their present state and how they might change. arrowmore

Ocean Policy

By working closely with researchers in economics, policy analysis, and sustainability, we’re turning our new knowledge into action as quickly and productively as possible. arrowmore