EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Dependence on the ocean is an ancient and complex part of human existence. As the population increases, society's need to understand the ocean and make sound decisions on a variety of related topics (e.g., nutrition, safety, economic activities, health, long-term security of the planet) also will increase. This need was recognized at the international level just within the past few decades and led to the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission's (IOC) call for initiation of a global ocean observing system (GOOS) in 1989. The IOC has since been joined by the World Meteorological Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the International Council of Scientific Unions as cosponsors of GOOS.

During the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro (sometimes referred to as the Earth Summit), the United States and more than a hundred other nations recognized the important role that oceans play in human existence and forged an agreement to "pursue the protection and sustainable development of the marine and coastal environment and its resources." Among other actions agreed to during UNCED, specific provision was made to support "the collection, analysis and distribution of data and information... through the Global Ocean Observing System."

GOOS is therefore intended to provide a global framework, similar to the World Weather Watch, to coordinate global, long-term, systematic observations of the world's oceans and to provide mechanisms and infrastructure so that the data and information collected can be made available to institutions and nations around the world. These efforts are, in part, intended to help solve problems related to changes in regional and global environments on various timescales. Through training, capacity building, and collaboration, GOOS will enable all nations to benefit from this information (IOC, 1996a).

A major underlying principle behind this endeavor is that a global ocean observing system is too large for any one nation to undertake. However, if appropriate plans for a system can be generally agreed upon, many national contributions can be aggregated to constitute such a system. This observing system is therefore to be implemented by a community of nations, planned and coordinated through a formal GOOS structure.

In 1994 the National Research Council's (NRC) Ocean Studies Board (OSB) issued a report, Review of U.S. Planning for the Global Ocean Observing System, supporting the GOOS concept In the fall of 1994, M. G. Briscoe, then chairman of the U.S. GOOS Interagency ad hoc Working Group, requested that OSB conduct a



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The Global Ocean Observing System: Users, Benefits, and Priorities EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Dependence on the ocean is an ancient and complex part of human existence. As the population increases, society's need to understand the ocean and make sound decisions on a variety of related topics (e.g., nutrition, safety, economic activities, health, long-term security of the planet) also will increase. This need was recognized at the international level just within the past few decades and led to the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission's (IOC) call for initiation of a global ocean observing system (GOOS) in 1989. The IOC has since been joined by the World Meteorological Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the International Council of Scientific Unions as cosponsors of GOOS. During the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro (sometimes referred to as the Earth Summit), the United States and more than a hundred other nations recognized the important role that oceans play in human existence and forged an agreement to "pursue the protection and sustainable development of the marine and coastal environment and its resources." Among other actions agreed to during UNCED, specific provision was made to support "the collection, analysis and distribution of data and information... through the Global Ocean Observing System." GOOS is therefore intended to provide a global framework, similar to the World Weather Watch, to coordinate global, long-term, systematic observations of the world's oceans and to provide mechanisms and infrastructure so that the data and information collected can be made available to institutions and nations around the world. These efforts are, in part, intended to help solve problems related to changes in regional and global environments on various timescales. Through training, capacity building, and collaboration, GOOS will enable all nations to benefit from this information (IOC, 1996a). A major underlying principle behind this endeavor is that a global ocean observing system is too large for any one nation to undertake. However, if appropriate plans for a system can be generally agreed upon, many national contributions can be aggregated to constitute such a system. This observing system is therefore to be implemented by a community of nations, planned and coordinated through a formal GOOS structure. In 1994 the National Research Council's (NRC) Ocean Studies Board (OSB) issued a report, Review of U.S. Planning for the Global Ocean Observing System, supporting the GOOS concept In the fall of 1994, M. G. Briscoe, then chairman of the U.S. GOOS Interagency ad hoc Working Group, requested that OSB conduct a

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The Global Ocean Observing System: Users, Benefits, and Priorities follow-up study. The new study was intended to provide information and advice to federal agencies (the U.S. GOOS Interagency ad hoc Working Group) to help define and implement an effective, affordable, and customer-based U.S. contribution to GOOS. In particular, the committee was asked to provide advice to U.S. agencies regarding a practical concept for GOOS, identify potential applications and users of GOOS during the next 3 to 5 years and beyond, recommend appropriate roles for industry and academia in GOOS, and prioritize observational and infrastructure activities that should be undertaken or continued by the United States in its initial commitments to GOOS. In response to its charge, the committee reviewed the status of GOOS planning and implementation at both the national and international levels, invited presentations by relevant federal agencies and members of the private sector, and examined the range of potential uses and benefits of products derived from information to be collected by GOOS. Finally, the committee drew upon this information and its own expertise to develop a number of recommendations intended to help move the implementation of GOOS forward. OVERARCHING THEMES A functional GOOS has the potential to provide many benefits to decisionmakers, academic scientists, commercial entities, and consumers. In some cases, implementation of GOOS will result in improvement of existing environmental products, such as maps of sea surface temperature. For example, severe storm forecasters can use near-real-time maps of sea surface temperature as one key input for atmospheric models used to predict hurricane tracks. Improved sea surface temperature maps can then translate into improved storm forecasts. Improved forecasts would allow federal, state, and local officials to take timely and effective action to warn marine users of impending storms. Ship captains, fishermen, offshore drilling managers, and other marine users would then be able to take appropriate action to avoid or minimize storm damage. Minimizing storm damage would result in real savings to the insurance and reinsurance industries, which should result in an decreased burden on policyholders across the nation. In other instances the observations will be combined with other data and with our understanding of the ocean and the ocean-land-atmosphere system to produce new forecast products (e.g., a prediction of the time and location of toxic algal blooms). In these cases the integration of data from multiple disciplines is necessary and may generate new hypotheses and increased understanding. Increased understanding of the variety of factors that lead to toxic algal blooms, for example, could lead to reliable predictions enabling state and local officials to intercede and possibly prevent economic loss associated with contaminated

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The Global Ocean Observing System: Users, Benefits, and Priorities shellfish beds, fish kills, or increased public health problems. Consumers would ultimately benefit by gaining access to more widely available and safer seafood, reduced health insurance rates, or the improved standard of living associated with a stronger local economy. Implementation of GOOS will be expensive, but it can begin with relatively modest steps. If society is to be convinced that GOOS is a worthwhile endeavor, efforts must be made to estimate the economic and societal benefits to be gained from the eventual system. Cost-benefit analyses and other socioeconomic studies can provide guidance as to which GOOS efforts are worth pursuing, with what priority, with what objectives, and at what level. Furthermore, careful socioeconomic studies of GOOS (e.g., the potential role of GOOS in mitigating El Niño and the Southern Oscillation (ENSO) effects on agribusiness or climate-related public health problems) are important tools for convincing decisionmakers that GOOS efforts should be funded. To realize the potential benefits of GOOS, a community with diverse needs and talents must be brought together. U.S. government agencies responsible for planning and implementing GOOS must make a serious commitment to international cooperation while taking a leadership role to encourage development of a GOOS that will address the nation's needs and priorities. Maintaining such a leadership role will require the establishment of government/academia/private-sector partnerships. The GOOS infrastructure that presently exists in the United States will need to be strengthened. Independent and objective oversight of U.S. activities is needed to ensure that efforts to implement GOOS both domestically and abroad reflect the needs and priorities of government, academia, and the private sector. The United States should provide financial support for international and national planning and implementation of GOOS commensurate with U.S. national interests and the value of GOOS benefits. To obtain optimal results, the design of any observing system must be based on accurate knowledge of the system to be observed. Research programs are contributing data, understanding, and mechanisms on which GOOS plans are being formulated. To facilitate the transition of elements of observing systems from research programs to a functional GOOS, support should be continued for the full and orderly completion of ongoing research programs contributing to GOOS plans and implementation. The present report is designed to help decisionmakers, scientists, and the public understand the importance and implications of implementing a functional GOOS. Chapter 1 presents a historical overview of the development of GOOS and includes discussions of its structure. The remainder of the report is devoted to discussing five major aspects of GOOS: (1) International GOOS, (2) GOOS in the United States, (3) users and benefits of GOOS, (4) developing GOOS in the spirit of partnership, and (5) priorities for U.S. GOOS activities. (Specific

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The Global Ocean Observing System: Users, Benefits, and Priorities findings and recommendations in each of these areas can be found in corresponding chapters of the report.) INTERNATIONAL GOOS GOOS is intended to be a truly international effort. The needs and perspectives of the international community must be addressed if GOOS is to be truly global in scope and impact. Chapter 2 discusses a number of conclusions reached by the committee regarding the present status of international GOOS planning and implementation efforts that bear on U.S. activities and the overall effectiveness of GOOS. Framing of a fully developed GOOS strategy, decisive actions by international GOOS committees, and provision for adequate staff support for and action by a GOOS support office have not occurred. The tendency of nations and small groups of nations to address their immediate problems, without adequate consideration of the global system, could lead to development of an ocean observing system that consists solely of a series of distinct and separate regional systems. Regionalization of GOOS in this manner poses a special problem in the case of fundamentally global modules, such as the climate module. Global cooperation is needed to learn how to make measurements and products and contributes to capacity building. All nations must be encouraged to focus on the needs of the international community in developing global observations and models; in sharing methods, standards, instruments, data, and products; and in capacity building. GOOS IN THE UNITED STATES Chapter 3 discusses the present organization of U.S. GOOS programs and the status of planning and implementation of GOOS in the United States. It also includes a number of committee recommendations regarding present plans for implementing GOOS, interaction among U.S. agencies involved in implementing GOOS, and coordination of GOOS activities with efforts to develop a global observing strategy. Bodies designed to foster cooperation among government agencies developing GOOS in the United States must be properly comprised to ensure that effective action can be taken by the widest number of relevant agencies. Furthermore, these bodies must have formal ties to international GOOS planning bodies and to bodies responsible for developing an integrated global observing strategy.

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The Global Ocean Observing System: Users, Benefits, and Priorities USERS AND BENEFITS OF GOOS Chapter 4 discusses some potential GOOS products by tracing their evolution from GOOS observations to user benefits. Many of the phenomena that adversely impact humans and the environment occur as events. Thus, parts of GOOS must focus on monitoring events as emergent phenomena and subsequent rapid response using the warning time available. Initially, specific areas of potential GOOS benefits derived from observations of surface winds over the ocean and sea surface temperature are discussed in detail. Then, derivative products useful for coastal hazard predictions and warnings, improved navigational systems, improved fish stocks assessments, prediction of algal blooms in coastal regions, climate forecasts, and health warnings are examined in greater detail. Balancing the costs of implementing various possible components of GOOS against the value of their potential benefits will be an ongoing challenge. Funding was not provided to allow the committee to undertake thorough cost-benefit studies on its own. Some examples of human and economic costs that could be mitigated with the kind of information GOOS should provide are offered in Chapter 4 as useful examples or potential candidates for further study (e.g., ENSO effects on agribusiness; amnesiac shell fish poisoning on Prince Edward Island, Canada, in 1987; or coastal weather forecasts). DEVELOPING GOOS IN THE SPIRIT OF PARTNERSHIP The establishment of government/academia/private-sector partnerships will be critical for the development and long-term sustenance of GOOS. As discussed in the 1992 NRC report, Oceanography in the Next Decade: Building New Partnerships, our nation is faced with many pressing problems that would benefit from increased cooperation among federal agencies, nongovernmental scientists, and the private sector. Making successful policies in a number of areas will require an adequate understanding of the earth and its systems. Our efforts to address many of the challenges facing our nation and the world would be greatly enhanced by the type of partnerships discussed in Chapter 5. PRIORITIES FOR U.S. GOOS ACTIVITIES Chapter 6 attempts to both review the present applicability of recommendations made in Review of U.S. Planning for the Global Ocean Observing System and present updated priorities for U.S. GOOS efforts. In many cases, ocean observations are in a state of transition. Because of the uncertain

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The Global Ocean Observing System: Users, Benefits, and Priorities status of many observations, it is critical that GOOS move forward in a timely manner and that its priorities are established quickly. In doing so, the United States not only should consider the potential benefits to users in this nation, but should also strive to maintain its leadership role in building a truly global observing system. Chapter 6 includes a number of committee recommendations designed to help the United States maintain a leadership role in GOOS.