Oregon Coast's Hatfield Marine Science Center to Expand
Published 07/16/2015 at 5:04 AM PDT
(Newport, Oregon) – Plans for expanding Newport's Hatfield Marine Science Center are underway after the Oregon Legislature recently approved $24.8 million to help fund a new building for the facility. Part of Oregon State University, the Hatfield is a leader in marine and environmental research not just for the Oregon coast but around the world as well. It also houses a public building where visitors interact with a variety of exhibits - and now it's getting bigger.
The new building will be devoted to research and education, and will be about 100,000 square feet. As part of OSU’s ambitious Marine Studies Initiative, it will educate students and conduct research on marine-related issues, from rising sea levels and ocean acidification to sustainable fisheries and economic stability.
Bob Cowen, director of the Hatfield Marine Science Center, said there is a huge number of critical issues for communities not just on the Oregon coast but in other coastlines around the world as well. Among them are economic stress tied to variable fish stocks to concerns over tsunamis, ocean acidification, rising sea levels, erosion and many more. The center hasn't expanded much in decades, and Cowen said this is now overdue given these new problems.
“Geology students may come here to study coastal erosion, oceanography students may explore sea level rise, engineers might look at options for coastal buildings that are resistant to tsunamis or tidal surge, and sociologists could lead the way on how communities respond to a disaster,” Cowen said.
Multiple agencies are already working with the Hatfield, including National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey. These, along with Hatfield’s saltwater research laboratories and ship operations, make it one of the most important marine science facilities in the country - and the combination provides unique opportunities for OSU students.
“One of the goals of the Marine Studies Initiative is to really broaden various disciplines across the university,” said Jack Barth, associate dean of the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences and co-leader of the Marine Studies Initiative. “We’ll still focus on fisheries, marine biology, ocean processes and other science-related issues, but we see some exciting areas into which we could expand including economics, social and public policies, ocean engineering and others.".
The new section will be on the current HMSC campus and should be built by 2018, joining an ever-growing list of science facilities making plans for this southern end of Newport known as South Beach. Already NOAA moved here a few years ago, the area currently hosts the Oregon Coast Aquarium, and soon OMSI will begin construction on a science camp building.
The Hatfield Marine Science Center celebrates its 50th anniversary in August. More information on the event is available at http://hmsc.oregonstate.edu/main/50th-anniversary-hmsc.
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