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Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth's Climate (2017)

Chapter: 3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System

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Suggested Citation:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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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3

International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System

Achieving continuous in situ measurements and the subsequent analyses of collected data relies on national and regional research organizations and extensive international coordination. While a relatively small number of nations currently engage in sustained ocean observations, capacity-building efforts encourage new nations to join the sustained observing enterprise. The ocean observing frameworks developed by these international structures have identified priorities and requirements for the end-to-end ocean observation enterprise. The task for the committee was to consider “processes for identifying and characterizing the most critical, long-term observations” required to understand future changes in Earth’s climate. In doing this, the committee was asked to discuss considerations of (1) sampling specifications (accuracy, precision, frequency, and spatial resolution), (2) duration, (3) value and/or trade-offs of increasing multidisciplinary sampling on existing platforms compared to fielding new platforms to make those measurements, (4) complementarity of an observation to another set of observations, and (5) introduction of new technology enabling more cost-effective observing. These foci are not new topics for dialog in the ocean and climate observing communities, but instead are discussed within an active international framework for climate observations where an ongoing process has been established for identifying variables that should be observed for climate, specifying the sampling and accuracy required, identifying the primary platforms for these observations, and spearheading improvements in technology. This chapter describes the international frameworks for developing observing requirements, long-term coordination, data sharing, and capacity building. The committee also points out international opportunities and challenges for sustaining the in situ ocean observing system.

Suggested Citation:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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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INTERNATIONAL COORDINATION UNDER GCOS AND GOOS

The Global Climate Observing System

The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) is a joint undertaking of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Council for Science. Its goal is to provide comprehensive information on the total climate system, involving a multidisciplinary range of physical, chemical, and biological properties and atmospheric, oceanic, hydrological, cryospheric, and terrestrial processes. GCOS includes both in situ and remote sensing components, with its space-based components coordinated by the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) and the Coordination Group for Meteorological Satellites. It is intended to meet the full range of national and international requirements for climate and climate-related observations. As a system of climate-relevant observing programs, GCOS constitutes, in aggregate, the climate observing component of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (Houghton et al., 2012). The GCOS program does not directly make observations or generate data products. Instead it stimulates, encourages, coordinates, and otherwise facilitates the collection of the needed observations by national or international organizations in support of common goals and their individual requirements. GCOS provides an operational framework for integrating, and enhancing as needed, observational systems of participating countries and organizations into a comprehensive system focused on the requirements for addressing climate issues (GCOS, 2017). Climate monitoring principles have also been developed that address practices for moving to new collection systems for existing variables, metadata needs, prioritization for new datasets, and data management, among others (GCOS, 1999).

GCOS has a process for developing implementation plans to articulate and address what have been identified as the Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) to measure across the Earth system. The program also provides an assessment of progress toward these plans. Over the past decade, the GCOS Implementation Plan for the Global Observing System for Climate has guided U.S. and international investments in the global observing system, focusing primarily on physical climate variables. In 2016, GCOS released its new implementation plan that has four long-term overarching targets: closing the carbon budget (greenhouse gases), closing the global water cycle, closing the global energy balance, and explaining changing conditions to the biosphere (GCOS, 2016). All targets have ocean dimensions and the first three map directly to the heat, carbon, and fresh water budgets discussed in this report. The plan also addresses gaps and areas of improvement that had hindered progress toward about a quarter of GCOS’s goals, including those related to shortfalls in deployment and maintenance of some in situ ocean observing platforms and slow progress toward increased involvement

Suggested Citation:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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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of developing countries (GCOS, 2015). The implementation plan further highlights the relevance and important contribution of sustained ocean observing to meet the climate data collection goals.

The Global Ocean Observing System

The IOC created the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) in March 1991 in response to calls from the Second World Climate Conference in Geneva in 1990. GOOS was developed to meet research and operational requirements for sustained ocean observations, both in situ and remote. GOOS coordinates observations around the global ocean for three critical themes: climate, ocean health, and real-time services (e.g., ocean hazard early warnings or weather forecasting). These themes correspond to the GOOS mandate to contribute to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, and the IOC and WMO mandates to provide operational ocean services, respectively. An essential element of GOOS is an active capacity development program that ensures that all nations are invited to participate.

GOOS implementation is supported by three discipline-based GOOS Expert Panels that provide scientific oversight on Physics, Biogeochemistry, and Biology and Ecosystems. Of the three panels, the Physics and Biogeochemistry Panels were built on existing structures—the Physics Panel on the Ocean Observations Panel for Climate (OOPC) and the Biogeochemistry Panel on the International Ocean Carbon Coordination Project (IOCCP). The Biology and Ecosystems Panel was formed more recently and draws on the experience from the last decade of research best practices in this field. These panels draw members from the major international ocean research programs and major ocean institutions based on building teams of experts in each discipline that are aware of both the state of technology of observing and the science and societally driven needs for ocean observing. These panels have developed the lists of, and detailed specifications for, Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs; see Table 3.1), which are judged to be the priority variables to be observed in the ocean, and which reflect information needs and technical readiness to collect variable data (See the “Establishment of the Framework for Ocean Observing” section for further detail).

GOOS has succeeded in coordinating a collaborative system of sustained observations unified by principles outlined in the late 1990s (IOC, 1998). The “Design Principles” are general rules for how a GOOS system should be designed, including the need to serve users, be long term, and solve global problems. The “Principles of Involvement” guide participation in the system, including requirements for compliance with the Design Principles and GOOS data policy, and a commitment to sustain observations. With its unique status within the United Nations, GOOS has been able to marshal the resources of the UNESCO/IOC Member States to build a network around independently managed and indepen-

Suggested Citation:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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.
×

TABLE 3.1 GOOS Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs)

Physics Biogeochemistry Biology and Ecosystems
Sea state Oxygen Phytoplankton biomass and diversity
Ocean surface stress Nutrients Zooplankton biomass and diversity
Sea ice Inorganic carbon Fish abundance and distribution
Sea surface height Transient tracers Marine turtles, birds, mammals abundance and distribution
Sea surface temperature Suspended particles Live coral
Subsurface temperature Nitrous oxide Seagrass cover
Surface currents Stable carbon isotopes Macroalgal canopy
Subsurface currents Dissolved organic carbon Mangrove cover
Sea surface salinity Ocean colour
Subsurface salinity
Ocean surface heat flux

NOTE: The technical readiness of EOVs (as of March 2017) is classified as mature (green), pilot (orange), or concept (red). SOURCE: GOOS, 2017.

dently funded observing elements. The current in situ ocean observing system (a portion of which is shown in Figure 3.1) contains internationally coordinated networks that sample the space and time variability of EOVs.

The WMO-IOC Joint Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM) offers ongoing technical coordination, oversight, and operational support for a range of observational, data management, and service activities conducted under GOOS. JCOMM Observations Coordination Group (OCG) is a forum for the leadership of all the networks to come together to identify synergies and opportunities to ensure that the observing system functions better as a system. OCG also has a work plan with thematic foci on areas such as metrics and standards/best practices. The JCOMM In-Situ Observing Programmes Support Centre (JCOMMOPS) provides observing implementation support and monitoring capabilities for a large cross section of the in situ ocean network. Through these functionalities, JCOMM is an important element in sustaining the observing system.

Suggested Citation:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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
FIGURE 3.1 Distribution of deployed instrumentation for select in situ ocean observing programs implemented under GOOS. Maritime zones, including Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), are identified in gray. SOURCE: JCOMMOPS, 2017.

ESTABLISHMENT OF THE FRAMEWORK FOR OCEAN OBSERVING

Decadal “OceanObs” meetings that bring together the international community to discuss and plan have played a pivotal role in the development of today’s ocean observation structures and priorities. The first International Conference for the Ocean Observing System for Climate, OceanObs’99, was held to build understanding and consensus around GOOS. In this workshop, groups developed white papers describing components proposed as elements of GOOS, and the workshop took under consideration the readiness of these components and their success at supplying observations seen as essential for GOOS. OceanObs’99 laid the foundational plan that was followed by many nations in moving forward to contribute to GOOS. In the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Program Office took steps to support key elements presented at OceanObs’99, including the Argo floats, the surface drifters, the moored time-series sites, and the repeat hydrographic cruises. It thus formalized for the first time its approach to contributing to GOOS.

The second International Conference, OceanObs’09 (http://oceanobs09.net) held in 2009, established that ocean observing plans needed to address deployment and maintenance of a more comprehensive, multidisciplinary GOOS that

Suggested Citation:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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.
×

addressed the needs of many stakeholders. This led to the development of the Framework for Ocean Observing (“the Framework”; Lindstrom et al., 2012), which articulates the requirements and technical readiness of a multidisciplinary ocean observing system tailored to meet both scientific and societal needs. GOOS utilizes the Framework to guide its implementation of an integrated and sustained ocean observing system by identifying the science-driven requirements resulting from societal issues and the observations deployment and maintenance needed to produce impactful and relevant tools to address those issues. To maintain an ocean observing system that is fit for purpose, the outputs (publications, products, ocean services) are intended to properly address the issues that drove the original requirements. This system evaluation creates a constant feedback loop such that requirements are always science driven and informed by societal needs.

The Framework was built around the critical quantities to be observed, which would be called EOVs (Table 3.1). To build the Framework, an international steering group worked with international ocean observing panels, including the previously mentioned OOPC and IOCCP, the GOOS Panel for Integrated Coastal Observations, and those implementing ocean observing. The Framework document states the key guiding principles for development, including “deliver[ing] an observing system that is fit for purpose […] focused on both scientific inquiry and societal issues … balancing research and innovation with the need for stability [… and] providing maximum benefit to all users from each observation,” that “appl[ies] a systems approach for sustaining global ocean observing” by using “Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs) as a common focus […,] define[s] a system based on Requirements, Observations, and data and information [… and] recognize[s] and develop[s] interfaces among all actors,” and that facilitates “transformation of observational data organized in EOVs into information […] that serve[s] a wide range of science and societal needs […]” (Lindstrom et al., 2012). Further coordination across terrestrial, atmospheric, and oceanic observations addressing climate is being carried out internationally under GCOS to identify the ECVs and their specifications. For the physical variables, EOVs have also been identified as ECVs. However, because GOOS planning addresses requirements in addition to climate, the EOV list contains an expanded set of biogeochemical and biological and ecosystem variables compared to the ECVs.

Following OceanObs’09, the Framework Steering Group, the international observing panels, and the expert teams formed for each of the EOVs have been working to identify and describe the EOVs in depth. Selection of EOVs is motivated by scientific and societal needs, with technical readiness also being considered. At present, the physical EOVs important for climate identified by the OOPC are sea state, ocean surface stress, sea ice, sea surface height, sea surface temperature, subsurface temperature, surface currents, subsurface currents, sea surface salinity, subsurface salinity, and ocean surface heat flux. All but the last are considered to be obtainable by technically mature methods, while ocean surface heat flux is judged be in a pilot stage of technical readiness. Additionally,

Suggested Citation:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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.
×

inorganic carbon, a biogeochemical EOV, is an important variable for climate, described by the IOCCP. The EOVs for climate agree well with the variables identified by the committee in Chapter 2 as those necessary to close the climate budgets. Table 3.2 specifies the EOVs that contribute to each budget.

The committee determined that the Framework for Ocean Observing and identification of the EOVs and their detailed descriptions effectively address the five bulleted items identified in its statement of task. For each of the EOVs, detailed specification documents have been developed by the expert panels, which outline the necessary observing platforms and sampling requirements to sufficiently measure each variable. Each variable is defined in detail in a “Variable Information” table which identifies the subvariables and derived variables

TABLE 3.2 Priority Variables for Ocean Observations for Climate

Budget Metric Relevant Essential Ocean Variable
Heat Budget Ocean heat content Sea surface temperature
Subsurface temperature
Air-sea heat exchange Ocean surface heat flux
Heat transport by ocean currents Surface currents
Subsurface currents
Subsurface temperature
Ocean surface stress
Mixing (temperature) Surface currents (derived variable upper-ocean turbulent mixing)
Subsurface currents (derived variable turbulent mixing)
Surface temperature
Subsurface temperature (derived variable turbulent mixing and basic field)
Subsurface salinity (derived variable turbulent mixing)
Carbon Budget pH Inorganic carbon (subvariable pH)
Alkalinity Inorganic carbon (subvariable total alkalinity)
Dissolved inorganic carbon Inorganic carbon (subvariable dissolved inorganic carbon)
Air-sea carbon flux Inorganic carbon (subvariable pCO2)
Sea state
Ocean surface stress
Ocean carbon inventory Inorganic carbon (subvariable dissolved inorganic carbon)
Suggested Citation:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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.
×
Budget Metric Relevant Essential Ocean Variable
Fresh Water Budget Ocean fresh water and salinity content Sea surface salinity
Subsurface salinity
Ocean heat content Sea surface temperature
Subsurface temperature
Sea-ice budget Sea ice
Surface currents
Air-sea and land-sea fresh water flux (precipitation, evaporation, runoff) Ocean surface heat flux (subvariable latent heat flux)
(Precipitation and river discharge are important ECVs)
Fresh water and salinity transport by ocean currents Surface currents
Subsurface currents
Subsurface salinity
Ocean surface stress
Mixing (salinity) Surface currents (derived variable upper-ocean turbulent mixing)
Subsurface currents (derived variable turbulent mixing)
Surface salinity
Subsurface temperature (derived variable turbulent mixing)
Subsurface salinity (derived variable turbulent mixing and basic field)
Sea-Level Change Sea surface height Sea surface height
Ocean heat content Sea surface temperature
Subsurface temperature
Heat transport by ocean current Surface currents
Subsurface currents
Salinity (from melting land ice) Sea surface salinity
Subsurface salinity

NOTE: The table compares the budget components identified by the committee to those identified (and terminology used) as Essential Ocean Variables.

for each EOV (as well as supporting variables and the expert groups working on the EOV). For example, pH, identified by the committee as an important component of the carbon budget, is a subvariable of the inorganic carbon EOV. The specification documents also identify the temporal and spatial sampling requirements for the EOV, requirements that are dependent on the phenomena

Suggested Citation:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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.
×

being captured (all found in the “Requirements Settings” table). The observing elements capable of measuring the EOV are described in the documents, with details about the sensor(s) used, the phenomena they measure, their spatial and temporal sampling, and random uncertainty. There is also recognition of near-future pilot-stage technology (“Future observing elements”) relevant to the EOV. A “Data and Information Creation” table lists data products, their readiness, who provides technical oversight and coordination, readiness of metadata, the relevant data center, and sources from which the data may be obtained.

The sampling requirements listed in the EOV specifications, such as those specified in this committee’s task (e.g., accuracy, precision, frequency, spatial resolution, and duration) typically depend on the phenomenon being addressed. For example, the EOV sea surface temperature (SST),1 is associated with measuring coastal shelf exchange processes, air-sea fluxes, fronts and eddies, and upwelling, and the sampling requirements for each of these calls for varying spatial resolutions ranging from 1 to 100 km, and temporal resolutions ranging from hourly to weekly. Diverse, complementary observing methods are identified for measuring SST, including microwave and infrared remote sensing from satellites and ships, volunteer observing ships, moorings, surface drifters, profiling floats, and tagged animals. For each, the specification document describes what is measured with each sensor, the ocean phenomenon being addressed, the technical readiness level, the spatial and temporal sampling, any special characteristics, and random uncertainty. Temporal- and spatial-scale capabilities of each observing platform vary, but there is overlap in their capabilities that allows the networks to complement each other and meet the requirements driven by each phenomenon. The SST specification also identifies future observing elements, in this case, next-generation drifters, infrared radiometers on autonomous vehicles, and ocean gliders. Data products also vary, and are coordinated and stored by different entities.

The development of the EOVs is an ongoing process and the lists in Table 3.1 will evolve with time. The selection of EOVs is based on their need to support improved scientific knowledge as well as societal needs. At the same time, the Framework process defines the maturity of a particular EOV based on an evaluation of the technical readiness and feasibility of the observing methods. New scientific challenges may arise, as may societal needs. Observing technology will also improve. Thus, the EOV lists will change with time to reflect need and technical readiness. For example, there is an international science focus on the large-scale heat budget of the Earth, called “Concept HEAT,” articulated by the CLIVAR (Climate and Ocean: Variability, Predictability, and Change) Decadal Climate Variability and Predictability Panel. Quantifying the heat budget requires, among other things, observation of the exchange of heat between the atmosphere

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1 The SST specification document can be viewed at: http://goosocean.org/index.php?option=com_oe&task=viewDocumentRecord&docID=17466.

Suggested Citation:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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.
×

and ocean at the sea surface. The need for this observation was brought to the attention of the OOPC, and that expert panel worked to assess capability and readiness and, in recognition of the scientific need, recently added ocean surface heat flux as a pilot EOV. Similarly, several communities (the Deep Ocean Observing Strategy initiative, tsunami monitoring agencies, and CEOS) have pointed to emerging capability of constraining ocean mass transports via time-varying satellite gravity measurements, with the variable of interest being ocean bottom pressure, and its importance in monitoring large-scale ocean circulation changes.

The ocean science community plays a critical role in identifying and evaluating additional new variables and developing and demonstrating the capability to observe them. An illustrative example arose during the development of the budget sections in Chapter 2 of this report. Progress toward developing budgets for heat, carbon, and fresh water would be strengthened through improved measurements of vertical mixing, particularly at the spatial and temporal scales of the overturning circulation. Diffusivity, which is used to quantify how heat or molecules, for example, spread through a fluid, has demonstrably important regional and temporal variability as they arise from turbulence associated with internal wave breaking, which has spatial and temporal dependence. The highest standard for measuring diffusivity is to measure microstructure fluctuations of temperature, salinity, and velocity, but these measurements are difficult and specialized and cannot be done at present in a global monitoring fashion. Instead, they are estimated using parameterizations of dissipation and diffusivity that use high-resolution (1- to 10-m vertical resolution) profiles (profiles from ships and Argo floats, velocity profiles from ships and moorings) of temperature and salinity, and preferably also in situ vertical profiles of velocity. There are experimental global measurements of temperature microstructure presently on U.S. GO-SHIP lines. Moving forward, the ocean science community will advance additional variables, make the case for maturing sampling specifications and observational methods.

The Framework for Ocean Observing and the identification of EOVs under GOOS pinpoint and characterize the ocean observations most critical to understanding future changes in Earth’s climate. The committee was very aware of this extensive, long, and ongoing effort by international experts and judged that the committee could not, with its small membership and limited duration of report development, recreate a prioritization process that would improve upon the activities conducted under the Framework. The committee is fully supportive of the Framework process and in agreement with the resulting selection of the EOVs and detailed specifications attached to each. At the same time, the committee anticipates further evolution of the EOV lists that recognize that addressing the three budgets discussed in this report will require additional ongoing observations.

Planning is now under way for OceanObs’19 (http://oceanobs19.net), to be held in 2019. This meeting will provide an opportunity to assess progress on the Framework and identify challenges and opportunities. The major themes

Suggested Citation:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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.
×

for OceanObs’19 will be the ocean-based (“blue”) economy; ocean hazards and opportunities; climate variability and change; water, food, health, and energy securities; ecosystem health and biodiversity; and ocean acidification.

Finding: The GOOS efforts are effective at promoting international cooperation to sustain the ocean climate observing system. Its guiding document—Framework for Ocean Observing—and the associated procedures for establishing priority observations—the Essential Ocean Variables—are constructive for defining ongoing requirements (precision, frequency, spatial resolution) for sustained ocean observations and provide a solid foundation for selecting and prioritizing ocean variables for sustained observing.

GOOS provides the framework under which nations can plan and prioritize their ocean observing activities. Through this framework, nations can combine resources to make their own ocean observing contributions to one global network. Specific opportunities exist to increase coordination in sharing of large ocean observing infrastructure such a ships and moored platforms. Support for some observing efforts, such as TPOS and GO-SHIP (see Box 3.1), includes use of ships from multiple nations. However, planning for the deployment of U.S. academic and government research vessels still proceeds largely as a stand-alone exercise, not working as part of an optimization across nations of which research vessel would be most effective at supporting observing platforms in a specific region at a specific time. In addition, when deploying moored and autonomous platforms, U.S. oceanographers are not formally encouraged by funding agencies to work to host additional sensors and instruments from oceanographers of other nations and to seek partners internationally or in the United States to add additional multidisciplinary instrumentation and/or to extend sampling to additional depths and locations. During transits between projects and to reach working areas, U.S. oceanographic research vessels could provide a means to extend spatial coverage of ocean sampling; yet, there is no coordination effort to maximize utilization of such transits or of voyages to sparsely sampled regions of the globe. Ultimately, neither GCOS nor GOOS provides a strong framework for the accountability of national commitments. This is handed down to the individual participating countries to organize.

Finding: Opportunities exist to increase the spatial coverage and multidisciplinary nature of sustained ocean observations through U.S./international (either bilateral or multilateral) coordination and sharing of resources.

GCOS AND GOOS CONNECTIONS TO RESEARCH PROGRAMS

The GCOS and GOOS frameworks draw on expertise from the ocean research and observations community to provide advice for international oversight

Suggested Citation:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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.
×
Suggested Citation:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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.
×

and implementation of GOOS. These programs have also contributed to the innovation and evolution of the ocean observing system by increasing the readiness level of the observing networks. The primary international programs that provide expertise and guidance for ocean observing for climate are CLIVAR and the IOCCP, both of which are organized under UNESCO. CLIVAR is one of the four core projects of the World Climate Research Programme. CLIVAR’s mission is to understand “the dynamics, the interaction, and the predictability of the coupled ocean-atmosphere system” (CLIVAR, 2017). To this end it facilitates observations, analyses, and predictions of changes in the Earth’s climate system. The CLIVAR Scientific Steering Group consists of core panels, some of which are organized jointly with GOOS. In the United States, there are three CLIVAR panels, with the Global Synthesis and Observations panel being most relevant to ocean observations. CLIVAR also carries out short-term, intense sampling during process studies. Process studies heavily sample a site or region of the ocean, testing hypotheses about the cause of observed variability and the role of different processes at work there. Two recent such examples are the Climate Process Team on improving oceanic overflow representation for deep water formation in climate models (Legg et al., 2009), and the Climate Process Team on internal wave-driven ocean mixing (MacKinnon et al., 2017). The IOCCP promotes and coordinates the diverse set of ocean carbon observations in support of the biogeochemistry EOVs (see Table 3.1) by facilitating dialogue within the scientific community and national and international organizations (IOCCP, 2017). IOCCP works with observing programs to provide technical coordination for methodologies, practices, and standards. The OOPC draws on the international CLIVAR basin panels and the IOCCP to stay up to date on information about ocean space and time variability and on the scientific research requirements for ocean sampling.

GCOS AND GOOS CONNECTIONS TO OPERATIONAL OCEANOGRAPHY

The requirements of the ocean observing system are determined by priority scientific and societal goals that are both long and short term. Recognizing the need for developing near-real-time ocean analysis and forecasting capabilities as practiced by the numerical weather prediction community, the international Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment (GODAE) was launched in 1998 as a 10-year effort (Smith and Lefebvre, 1997; Bell et al., 2009). Its goal was to demonstrate the feasibility and utility of high-resolution short-term open-ocean predictions based on state-of-the-art ocean and data assimilation systems, to extend the predictability of coastal and regional subsystems, and to produce optimal initial conditions for seasonal-to-decadal climate forecasts. GODAE boosted the establishment and improvement of operational ocean prediction systems in a number of countries. It drastically enhanced capabilities for the robust, real-time collection and processing of measurements, and the generation and dissemination

Suggested Citation:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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.
×

of analyses and forecasts. It demonstrated that forecasting of open-ocean mesoscale phenomena is feasible in many regions, and GODAE products showed real benefit for a number of applications (see Bell et al., 2009).

Based on GODAE’s success, the international GODAE OceanView (GOV) program was launched in 2010 to “define, monitor and promote actions aimed at coordinating and integrating research associated with multi-scale and multidisciplinary ocean analysis and forecasting systems, thus enhancing the value of GODAE OceanView outputs for research and applications” (GODAE, 2010). A key component of GOV is the assessment of the contribution of the various components of the observing system and the scientific guidance for improved design and implementation of the ocean observing system (Bell et al., 2015). The GOV systems and their important societal benefits depend critically on the GOOS satellite and in situ observation components. Observational data must be accessible and readily available for near-real-time assimilation by GOV partners. Through the development, operation, and improvement of Observing System Experiments, GOV contributes to comprehensive, effective, and scientifically robust advocacy of the case for and prioritization of the components of the GOOS, in collaboration with JCOMM and CEOS. Another core component of GOV is the advancement and operation of data assimilation systems that are at the core of near-real-time analysis and forecasting (see “GODAE Ocean View Part 1,” 2015).

DATA MANAGEMENT

The GOOS principles address the need to manage, process, and distribute data from the ocean observing system. Much of the heritage for ocean data management in the United States stems from WOCE, and its data management practices have continued largely intact under GOOS. The unprecedented quantity and scope of in situ and satellite measurements collected during WOCE necessitated a new approach to data management that interweaves various data streams into a unified system. The dependence on Data Assembly Centers (DACs) organized by instrument type (e.g., surface drifters, moored instruments, sea-level gauges, gliders, Argo floats), spreads responsibilities for quality assessments, metadata support, and distribution among groups with expertise with data from those instruments. Data quality assessment responsibilities largely rest with investigators connected to measurement collection, which has improved the overall quality of the database. Open access to data and the requirement that investigators submit data within a reasonable period after collection ensure that the scientific community has timely access to the entire data stream. Near-real-time data distribution, championed under WOCE, has developed new stakeholders for in situ ocean data such as those involved in the calibration and validation of satellite data, data assimilation into numerical circulation models, and other operational oceanographic pursuits. Data collected under GOOS programs are publicly available in near real time, and in delayed mode as climate quality measurements. Many

Suggested Citation:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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.
×

GOOS elements, such as Argo, GO-SHIP, surface drifters, and OceanSITES have data management plans and funded DACs. OceanSITES, for example, uses a common data format, NetCDF developed by NCAR/Unidata, which is supported by metadata, and has Global Data Assembly Centers (GDACS) for data archiving and distribution at the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) in the United States and Coriolis at Ifremer in France. U.S. funding agencies now require data management plans and have historically required submission of ocean data to federal archives.

The global distribution of real-time and delayed-mode ocean data is currently limited. There are a few global ocean data centers and a large number of regional ones; many coastal states are mandated to have national data centers. Yet there are many users who would benefit from ocean data who traditionally are not users of archives of NetCDF or ASCII text files. Thus, there is tremendous opportunity to network and connect these efforts to provide improved open and equitable access to ocean data and ocean information. For example, the Research Data Alliance provides a forum through its working groups and interest groups for the development of infrastructure to promote data sharing. Another organization, ESIP (Earth Science Information Partners), works with agencies, universities, and nonprofit and commercial organizations to improve the management of their data for mainstream use (ESIP, 2017).

INTERNATIONAL LEGAL REGIMES FOR FREELY DRIFTING OBSERVING PLATFORMS

About 30 percent of the area of the global ocean lies inside the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of coastal nations or within other maritime zones such as the region governed by the Antarctic Treaty System (see Figure 3.1). Because of the large ocean area of the EEZs, it is critical for a global ocean observing system to ensure governance arrangements that allow for deployment and drift of instruments inside and across EEZ boundaries. International regulation of such observing system activities falls under one of two regimes, depending on whether they are marine science research (MSR, under the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea) or operational meteorological and related data (under WMO Resolution 40, which includes ocean temperature and salinity profile data). Observations made by research vessels, including hydrographic transects and mooring deployments, are subject to the well-established permitting process for MSR. The most successful models are bi- or multilateral partnerships between those who might have the resources (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries) and less developed coastal states. Many of these partnerships include training, capacity building, and assistance to use ocean information in support of the needs of the coastal state. A more complex situation is that of drifting or partially mobile platforms such as profiling floats (Argo) and gliders which may move in and out of EEZs (Bork et al., 2008). No international consensus has

Suggested Citation:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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.
×

been achieved on the question of whether the Argo program’s global float array is primarily MSR or operational oceanography (e.g., Mateos and Gorina-Ysern, 2010). The differing rules followed by different national Argo programs have resulted in wasted effort on conflict avoidance, occasional protests, and decreased Argo coverage in some EEZs. The issue of access within EEZs for deploying observing system elements, or for the drift of mobile platforms such as Argo floats, remains a challenge and can act as a disincentive to deployment in some regions of the global ocean.

The IOC has adopted two resolutions concerning the deployment of Argo floats on the high seas and their drift into EEZs. The first of these, Resolution XX-6 (IOC, 1999), noted and supported the use of Argo float data in global ocean data assimilation models and required that “concerned coastal states must be informed in advance, through appropriate channels, of all deployments of profiling floats which might drift into waters under their jurisdiction, indicating the exact locations of such deployments.” The JCOMMOPS Argo Information Center (AIC) was created to carry out the deployment notification mandated by IOC Resolution XX-6 as well as to track the locations of all Argo floats. The second IOC resolution on Argo (IOC, 2008) established a set of guidelines for floats drifting into EEZs. The guidelines, which include notification of some coastal states by float-providing nations when a float approaches the EEZ, have, in some cases had a negative effect on deployments in EEZ-contiguous regions. More importantly, because of national differences over the question of MSR versus operational oceanography, there has been no IOC action taken regarding deployment of floats inside of EEZs.

Thus, while deployments inside EEZs are critical for global ocean and climate observation, the procedures for carrying out such deployments vary from nation to nation. Three ad hoc strategies are presently in use. First, since drift of floats into EEZs is permitted under IOC Resolution XLI.4, many floats presently inside EEZs have been deployed on the high seas. The opportunistic drift of floats into EEZs is an attractive option but float trajectories remain difficult to predict. Second, many coastal nations have stated their concurrence with deployment of Argo floats inside their EEZs. For those nations, all that is required is the standard deployment notification via the AIC and free access to the data, as is provided for all Argo data. A third procedure is the donation of instruments by an Argo National Program to a coastal nation that takes responsibility for deploying the instruments within their EEZ. In such cases, specific arrangements are needed for data communications and data management. For the Argo program, it is hoped that once the high value of Argo data to all nations is recognized, many more nations will concur with EEZ deployments. This hope has not yet been realized. Moreover, new sensors in addition to temperature and salinity, such as those already being implemented in the growing BGC-Argo program (Biogeochemical-Argo Planning Group, 2016) may increase national sensitivities around this issue in the future, because of the usefulness of the sensors for monitoring the

Suggested Citation:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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.
×

environment for living marine resources, unless multilateral partnerships can be successfully forged.

INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS SUPPORTING OCEAN INFORMATION

Although a broad range of activities benefit from ocean observations, there is a need for more international and national coordination between the various ocean actors. As reflected by the diverse themes planned for OceanObs’19 mentioned earlier, there are a number of economic, societal, and scientific drivers for ocean observing and therefore a complex network of existing international activities that are in need of specific ocean information. A good example of where improved interagency coordination at the international level would have provided more impact is the World Ocean Assessment (WOA). The WOA, is a regular process for the global reporting and assessment of the marine environment, including socioeconomic aspects, is mandated by the UN General Assembly and was administratively delegated to the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) with technical and scientific support from the IOC-UNESCO, UNEP, the International Maritime Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the International Atomic Energy Agency. A more collaboratively executed WOA with adequate resources (no additional staff was allocated specifically for this work; the secretariat function has been provided by the existing DOALOS staff) could become a more impactful and fully scientifically vetted product akin to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Recommendations have been made by the science ministers of the G7 in support of the development of a global initiative to sustain and enhance ocean observing and the development of a global assessment through the UN to inform sustainable management strategies.2

The most recent addition to the international agreements that foster and depend on global ocean observations and information are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) articulated under the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. There is a goal around climate (SDG13) and one for the ocean (SDG14). The oceans also provide services for several other goals that have to do with food security (SDG2), jobs (SDG8), sustainable cities (SDG11), and renewable energy (SDG7) (Le Blanc et al., 2017; Schmidt et al., 2017). Other societal drivers for ocean observing that are included in Agenda 2030 are associated with climate, biodiversity, shipping, ocean pollution, remote sensing, and regional fisheries. However, there is no clear mandate given to a single UN organization for the Agenda 2030 as a whole. Instead, support for each goal is undertaken by existing relevant coordination bodies.

___________________

2 Attachment 2 to Tsukuba Communiqué: Recommendations – G7 expert workshop on future of the oceans and seas (http://www.g8.utoronto.ca/science/2016-tsukuba2.html).

Suggested Citation:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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.
×

CAPACITY BUILDING

Many lessons are learned in sustained ocean observing by experience, by carrying out observations at sea, finding and fixing problems, and by working with the instrumentation, sensors, and data. Thus, capacity-building and training activities are important components to address within the international community of actors. Capacity building allows more investigators, operators, and countries to increase capabilities and contribute to a global sustained ocean observing system. Numerous organizations and programs are concerned with capacity-building efforts related to ocean observing, such as the IOC (2016), notably through the Global Sea Level Observing System (GLOSS) and JCOMM, with particular success through the Data Buoy Cooperation Panel (DPCP), SysTem for Analysis, Research, and Training (START), which promotes capacity building to advance knowledge on global environmental change in Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, the UN Regional Seas Programme, CLIVAR, Argo, and many others.

One example of the type of programs that have been effective in supporting capacity building for ocean observing is the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO). POGO is an organization of the directors and leaders of major oceanographic laboratories around the world. It holds that the “Lack of trained personnel is considered to be a major obstacle to development of a global ocean observing system. Therefore, a central element of the POGO agenda is capacity building and training. POGO has developed an extensive array of training and education activities targeted primarily at scientists from developing countries and those with economies in transition” (POGO, 2017). These activities include the Visiting Fellowship Programme, the Visiting Professorship Programme, the Nippon Foundation-POGO Centre of Excellence in Ocean Observations, and shipboard training programs. These activities are funded through partnerships with the Nippon Foundation and with the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research. Through 2011, around 450 young scientists from 63 developing countries had received training through a POGO capacity-building initiative (Seeyave and Platt, 2012).

Finding: Capacity building enhances international support for the sustained ocean observing system and is valuable for increasing international use of the information and sharing of observing responsibilities.

Suggested Citation:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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:"3 International Frameworks for the In Situ Ocean Observing System." 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 Get This Book
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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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