School of fish swimming in ocean near colorful coral reef.

Current Programs

The Center for Ocean Leadership (COL) coordinates and facilitates collaborative ocean science, research, education, and communication efforts between and among government agencies and ocean research and education institutions. COL programs currently focus on ocean education, observing, and stewardship. 


One way we foster ocean literacy is through our academic competition for high schoolers, the National Ocean Sciences Bowl. Other programs and events we host help further education for everyone from educational administrators to early career scientists.

National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB)

The National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) is a nationally-recognized high school academic competition and COL’s flagship education program. For 20 years, the NOSB has provided a forum for students to excel in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). 

Ocean Observing

Strengthening regional, national, and global networks and partnerships to advance ocean observations. 

Interagency Ocean Observation Committee (IOOC)

The Interagency Ocean Observation Committee (IOOC) oversees efforts to develop the National Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observing System. Led by three federal co-chairs, comprised of agency representatives, and supported by COL staff, the committee carries out various provisions of the ICOOS Act for implementing procedural, technical, and scientific requirements to ensure full execution of the system. 

Marine Life 2030

Marine Life 2030, a United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development program, is a globally coordinated system to deliver actionable, transdisciplinary knowledge of ocean life to those who need it, promoting human well-being, sustainable development, and ocean conservation. Marine Life 2030 unites existing and frontier technologies and partners into a global, interoperable network and community of practice advancing observation and forecasting of marine life. This network will link technical, management, and policy stakeholders to build and exchange capacity for advancing society’s grand challenges of managing activities for a healthy and resilient ocean and the vibrant and healthy society that depends on it.

Observing Air-Sea Interactions Strategy (OASIS)

Bringing together the vast community of researchers and experts on air-sea interactions, the Observing Air-Sea Interactions Strategy (OASIS) furthers the field by harmonizing observational strategies and developing a practical, integrated approach to observing air-sea interactions through capacity development, leveraging of multi-disciplinary activities, and advancement of understanding. OASIS provides observational-based knowledge to fundamentally improve weather, climate and ocean prediction, and promote healthy oceans, the blue economy, and sustainable food and energy.

Underwater Glider User Group (UG2)

The Underwater Glider User Group (UG2) is a community-based coalition aimed at bolstering scientific collaboration and information/resource sharing for glider operators, data users, manufacturers, academia, and government agencies.The overarching goal of UG2 is to establish a community that facilitates sharing and cooperation.

UN Decade of Ocean Science and Sustainable Development, National Academies of Science

From 2021-2030, the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (UN Decade) will focus scientific initiatives across the globe on the science needed to ensure sustainable use of ocean resources and long-term ocean health.  The National Academies, U.S. National Committee for the Ocean Decade will focus participation and serve as a communication channel for the U.S. ocean science community throughout this international effort. COL participates primarily through Ocean-Shots. Ocean- Shots are ambitious, transformational research concepts that draw inspiration and expertise from multiple disciplines and fundamentally advance ocean science for sustainable development. COL’s focus is on open cloud computing and integrated satellite and in situ system design.

UN Decade of Ocean Science and Sustainable Development, Global Ocean Observing System

The Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) enables each part of the system to contribute at its highest capacity, helping to build an integrated and responsive observing enterprise. GOOS leads and supports a community of international, regional, and national ocean observing programs, governments, UN agencies, research organizations and individual scientists.

Positioned to be at the heart of the UN Decade, ocean observing is fundamental to achieving the goals of the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. GOOS is proud to be a key part of this visionary initiative. Primary to this endeavor are three Decade Programs: (1) Ocean Observing Co-Design (2) CoastPredict (3) Observing Together. These Programs actively drive the transformation needed to achieve the Ocean Decade outcomes and enhance the global observing system. COL works with the leadership and science teams to enhance the U.S. contribution to these global endeavors and to facilitate the scientific and societally beneficial outcomes of the Decade.


COL’s focus on stewarding the new blue economy helps to ensure state and national goals for renewable energy are achieved while also protecting biodiversity and ocean ecosystems. 

Regional Wildlife Science Collaborative for Offshore Wind (RWSC)

In July 2023, COL signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Regional Wildlife Science Collaborative for Offshore Wind (RWSC) to help manage funding related to research projects focused on offshore wind and wildlife in U.S. waters. RWSC is a collaboration among U.S. federal agencies, Atlantic coast states, offshore wind companies, and environmental non-profits, formed in 2021 to coordinate offshore wind and wildlife research, data collection, and data management among those four sectors and with the broader research community. RWSC is co-hosted by the Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC) and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO).

The research funding will be guided by a Science Plan which was released by RWSC in January 2024; it is available on the RWSC website here.

The MOU between COL and RWSC is available here. For more information on RWSC, please visit

Legacy Programs

Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative (DOSI)

The Deep-Ocean Stewardship Initiative (DOSI) is a global network of experts which seeks to integrate science, technology, policy, law and economics to advise on ecosystem-based management of resource use in the deep ocean and strategies to maintain the integrity of deep-ocean ecosystems within and beyond national jurisdiction.

Deep Ocean Observing Strategy (DOOS)

The Deep Ocean Observing Strategy (DOOS) is an international, collaborative effort for which COL provides science and logistical support as part of a distributed program office model and with funding from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The purpose of DOOS is to improve understanding of the state of the deep ocean with respect to baseline conditions, response to climate variability, and response to human disturbance. 

2020 Workshop to Identify National Ocean Exploration Priorities in the Pacific

COL organizes and facilitates engagement activities to improve strategic coordination and planning across the ocean exploration enterprise, such as the 2020 Workshop to Identify National Ocean Exploration Priorities in the Pacific.

2022 National Ocean Exploration Forum

In partnership with NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, COL organized the 2022 National Ocean Exploration Forum, which focused on envisioning short-term and long-term milestones to guide the ocean exploration community in identifying shared priorities over the next decade.