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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth's Climate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24919.
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Sustaining Ocean
Observations
to Understand
Future Changes in
Earth’s Climate

Committee on Sustaining Ocean Observations to
Understand Future Changes in Earth’s Climate

Ocean Studies Board

Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate

Division on Earth and Life Studies

A Consensus Study Report of

images

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, DC
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth's Climate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24919.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001

This activity was supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under Award Number WC133R-11-CQ-0048 and the National Academy of Sciences’ Arthur L. Day Fund. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-46680-6
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-46680-6
Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/24919

Additional copies of this report are available for sale from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; Internet, http://www.nap.edu/.

Copyright 2017 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America

Cover image credits: Upper left, NOAA AOML; Upper middle, Climate Central/SOCCOM (https://soccom.princeton.edu/); Upper right, NASA; Middle, Argo Program (http://www.argo.ucsd.edu/, http://doi.org/10.17882/42182); Lower right, NOAA PMEL; Lower left, Hans Graber, University of Miami; Middle left, NOAA AOML.

Suggested citation: The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth’s Climate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: https://doi.org/10.17226/24919.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth's Climate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24919.
×

Image

The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, nongovernmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president.

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The three Academies work together as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding in matters of science, engineering, and medicine.

Learn more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine at www.nationalacademies.org.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth's Climate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24919.
×

Image

Consensus Study Reports published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine document the evidence-based consensus on the study’s statement of task by an authoring committee of experts. Reports typically include findings, conclusions, and recommendations based on information gathered by the committee and the committee’s deliberations. Each report has been subjected to a rigorous and independent peer-review process and it represents the position of the National Academies on the statement of task.

Proceedings published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine chronicle the presentations and discussions at a workshop, symposium, or other event convened by the National Academies. The statements and opinions contained in proceedings are those of the participants and are not endorsed by other participants, the planning committee, or the National Academies.

For information about other products and activities of the National Academies, please visit www.nationalacademies.org/about/whatwedo.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth's Climate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24919.
×

COMMITTEE ON SUSTAINING OCEAN OBSERVATIONS TO UNDERSTAND FUTURE CHANGES IN EARTH’S CLIMATE

MARY M. GLACKIN, Co-Chair, The Weather Company, an IBM Business, Washington, D.C.

ROBERT A. WELLER, Co-Chair, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts

EDWARD A. BOYLE, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge

ROBERT B. DUNBAR, Stanford University, California

ROBERT HALLBERG, NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey

PATRICK HEIMBACH, University of Texas at Austin

MARK MERRIFIELD, University of Hawaii at Manoa

DEAN ROEMMICH, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California

LYNNE D. TALLEY, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California

MARTIN VISBECK, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, Kiel, Germany

Staff

SUSAN ROBERTS, Director, Ocean Studies Board

EMILY TWIGG, Associate Program Officer, Ocean Studies Board

APRIL MELVIN, Associate Program Officer, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate

ALEXANDRA PHILLIPS, Senior Program Assistant, Ocean Studies Board

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth's Climate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24919.
×

OCEAN STUDIES BOARD

LARRY A. MAYER, Chair, University of New Hampshire, Durham

E. VIRGINIA ARMBRUST, University of Washington, Seattle

KEVIN R. ARRIGO, Stanford University, California

CLAUDIA BENITEZ-NELSON, University of South Carolina, Columbia

RITA R. COLWELL, University of Maryland, College Park

SARAH W. COOKSEY, State of Delaware, Dover

JAMES A. ESTES, University of California, Santa Cruz

DAVID HALPERN, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

PATRICK HEIMBACH, University of Texas at Austin

SUSAN E. HUMPHRIS, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts

BONNIE J. MCCAY, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey

S. BRADELY MORAN, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

STEVEN A. MURAWSKI, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg

JOHN A. ORCUTT, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California

H. TUBA ÖZKAN-HALLER, Oregon State University, Corvallis

MARTIN D. SMITH, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

MARGARET SPRING, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California

DOUGLAS WARTZOK, Florida International University, Miami

LISA D. WHITE, University of California, Berkeley, and San Francisco State University

ROBERT S. WINOKUR, Michigan Tech Research Institute, Silver Spring, Maryland

OSB Staff

SUSAN ROBERTS, Director

STACEE KARRAS, Program Officer

EMILY TWIGG, Associate Program Officer

PAMELA LEWIS, Administrative Coordinator

ALEXANDRA PHILLIPS, Senior Program Assistant

SHUBHA BANSKOTA, Financial Associate

JAMES HEISS, Postdoctoral Fellow

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth's Climate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24919.
×

BOARD ON ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES AND CLIMATE

A. R. RAVISHANKARA, Chair, Colorado State University, Fort Collins

SHUYI S. CHEN, Vice Chair, University of Washington, Seattle

CECILIA BITZ, University of Washington, Seattle

MARK A. CANE, Columbia University, Palisades, New York

HEIDI CULLEN, Climate Central, Princeton, New Jersey

ROBERT DUNBAR, Stanford University, California

PAMELA EMCH, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, Redondo Beach, California

ARLENE FIORE, Columbia University, Palisades, New York

PETER FRUMHOFF, Union of Concerned Scientists, Cambridge, Massachusetts

WILLIAM B. GAIL, Global Weather Corporation, Boulder, Colorado

MARY GLACKIN, The Weather Company, Washington, D.C.

TERRI S. HOGUE, Colorado School of Mines, Golden

EVERETTE JOSEPH, SUNY University at Albany, New York

RONALD “NICK” KEENER, JR., Duke Energy Corporation, Charlotte, North Carolina

ROBERT KOPP, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey

L. RUBY LEUNG, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington

JONATHAN MARTIN, University of Wisconsin–Madison

JONATHAN OVERPECK, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

ALLISON STEINER, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

DAVID W. TITLEY, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park

DUANE WALISER, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena

Ocean Studies Board Liaison

DAVID HALPERN, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

BASC Staff

AMANDA STAUDT, Director

DAVID ALLEN, Senior Program Officer

LAURIE GELLER, Senior Program Officer

KATHERINE THOMAS, Senior Program Officer

LAUREN EVERETT, Program Officer

APRIL MELVIN, Associate Program Officer

AMANDA PURCELL, Program Officer

YASMIN ROMITTI, Research Associate

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth's Climate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24919.
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RITA GASKINS, Administrative Coordinator

SHELLY FREELAND, Financial Associate

ROB GREENWAY, Program Associate

MICHAEL HUDSON, Senior Program Assistant

ERIN MARKOVICH, Senior Program Assistant/Research Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth's Climate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24919.
×

Acknowledgments

This report was greatly enhanced by discussions with participants at the Committee’s meetings and workshops as part of this study. The Committee would like to acknowledge, especially, the efforts of those who gave presentations at the Committee meetings: Krisa Arzayus (NOAA), Cynthia Atherton (Heising-Simons Foundation), Jim Baker (Clinton Foundation), Molly Baringer (NOAA), Annalisa Bracco (Georgia Institute of Technology), Ryan Carlon (Liquid Robotics), Andy Clark (Marine Technology Society), Emmett Duffy (Smithsonian Institution), Michael Freilich (NASA), Katy Hill (World Meteorological Organization), John Holdren (White House Office of Science and Technology Policy), Greg Johnson (NOAA), David Legler (NOAA), Adena Leibman (Office of Senator Whitehouse), Eric Lindstrom (NASA, Global Ocean Observing System), Craig McLean (NOAA), Marcia McNutt (National Academy of Sciences), Gary Mitchum (University of South Florida), Rick Murray (National Science Foundation), Mike Patterson (U.S. CLIVAR Project Office), Allison Reed (U.S. Department of State), Spencer Reeder (Paul Allen Foundation), Kathleen Ritzman (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), Chris Sabine (NOAA), Ray Schmitt (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), Sophie Seeyave (Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans), Rick Spinrad (NOAA), Jed Sundwall (Amazon Web Services, Inc.), John Trowbridge (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), Roger Wakimoto (National Science Foundation), Stan Wilson (NOAA), Zdenka Willis (Integrated Ocean Observing System), Bob Winokur (Michigan Technological University), Nathalie Zilberman (Scripps Institution of Oceanography). The committee would also like to thank staff at JCOMMOPS for providing data on observing programs used in the tables and figures of the report.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth's Climate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24919.
×

This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.

We thank the following individuals for their review of this report:

Melbourne Briscoe, Ocean Geeks, LLC

David Halpern, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Pierre-Yves Le Traon, Mercator Ocean

Eric Lindstrom, NASA

Frank Millero, University of Miami

Josie Quintrell, IOOS Association

Chris Sabine, NOAA

Bernadette Sloyan, CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere

Carl Wunsch, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the report’s conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before the release. The review of this report was overseen by Robert Duce, Texas A&M University, College Station, and William Young, Scripps Institution of Oceanography. They were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth's Climate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24919.
×

Preface

The global ocean covers some 70 percent of the Earth’s surface. In responding to the growing awareness that the ocean plays a key role in the climate of the Earth, its variability, and change in the climate, many nations and a number of intergovernmental agencies have moved forward to support and coordinate sustained observing of the ocean. Yet, there are many challenges that arise in building toward an observing system that reaches to include the remote regions and full depths of the ocean.

At meetings of the ocean science community in recent years, Carl Wunsch, D. James Baker, and Ray Schmitt have given talks and led Town Hall meetings to stimulate the community to think of how best to proceed to develop a plan and support for sustained ocean observing. They brought the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine into the dialog, and this study, funded by the National Academies’ Arthur L. Day Fund with additional support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is one result.

The Ocean Studies Board of the National Academies developed the statement of task for this committee, inspired by discussions with Carl Wunsch, D. James Baker, and Ray Schmitt. Notionally, a two-phase approach to this topic of sustaining ocean observations to understand future changes in Earth’s climate was developed. In the first stage, which is the work of this committee, the goals include considerations of what observations are most critical, of the specifications for those observations, of the present approaches to sustained ocean observing, and of the challenges to long-term ocean observing. A second stage was also discussed, where new models or approaches to sustained ocean observing would be pursued.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth's Climate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24919.
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This report builds on the inputs from many in the ocean science community, reflecting what was learned at a workshop convened by the committee and a number of invited presentations. The contributors are listed in the Acknowledgments section. The committee is also greatly indebted to Study Directors Susan Roberts and Emily Twigg, April Melvin, and staff from the Ocean Studies Board and the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate. This report came to fruition through their efforts.

Mary Glackin and Robert A. Weller, Committee Co-Chairs

Page xiii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth's Climate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24919.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth's Climate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24919.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth's Climate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24919.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth's Climate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24919.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth's Climate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24919.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth's Climate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24919.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth's Climate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24919.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth's Climate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24919.
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The ocean is an integral component of the Earth’s climate system. It covers about 70% of the Earth’s surface and acts as its primary reservoir of heat and carbon, absorbing over 90% of the surplus heat and about 30% of the carbon dioxide associated with human activities, and receiving close to 100% of fresh water lost from land ice.

With the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, notably carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion, the Earth’s climate is now changing more rapidly than at any time since the advent of human societies. Society will increasingly face complex decisions about how to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change such as droughts, sea-level rise, ocean acidification, species loss, changes to growing seasons, and stronger and possibly more frequent storms.

Observations play a foundational role in documenting the state and variability of components of the climate system and facilitating climate prediction and scenario development. Regular and consistent collection of ocean observations over decades to centuries would monitor the Earth’s main reservoirs of heat, carbon dioxide, and water and provides a critical record of long-term change and variability over multiple time scales. Sustained high-quality observations are also needed to test and improve climate models, which provide insights into the future climate system. Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth’s Climate considers processes for identifying priority ocean observations that will improve understanding of the Earth’s climate processes, and the challenges associated with sustaining these observations over long timeframes.

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