WMO:New report card shows state and value of ocean observations


A new Ocean Observing System report card provides insight into the status of the global ocean observing system. With the current and increasingly urgent need for nations to take decisions related to the impact of climate change, the report card highlights the need for sustained ocean monitoring.

Ocean observations provide critical data to nations for delivering marine weather and ocean services, to ensure safe and efficient maritime operations, and improving emergency response efficiency for extreme events. They are also crucial for providing scientific assessments to enable environmental prediction and adaptation to climatic change, as well as leading to more effective protection of ecosystems.

The report card was prepared by the Joint Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM) of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC). It was presented during the IOC’s 30th General Assembly sessions on 1 July devoted to ocean observations.

"To better meet expanding societal needs, the global ocean observing system is introducing new technologies and improved capabilities. These advancements will provide more observational information in real-time and long duration high-quality data needed for detection of ocean change, as well as helping to address the lack of data in poorly sampled regions”, said David Legler chair of the JCOMM Observations Coordination Group.

“The availability of new technological capabilities for under ice observations, based on ocean gliders and autonomous floats, are now enabling us to monitor the increase of CO2 concentrations in the Arctic and Antarctic Ocean” says the report card.

New technology developments, in particular for biological and biogeochemical observations, will require new resources and strong collaboration with industry. As we move towards sampling in coastal areas, we will need to explore new solutions, including citizen involvement.

“Coordination and collaborations between ocean observing communities, networks and end-users are vital to optimize effort and resources towards developing an integrated global ocean observing system”, said Mr Legler.

The ocean observing system is based primarily on satellite observations and in situ platforms, including ship-based weather stations, moored and drifting buoys, autonomous profiling floats, dedicated research vessels, tide gauges and other emerging networks, which monitor continuously the global ocean, from the sea surface to the sea floor, in near real-time.

“Through many years of support from WMO Members, IOC Member States, governments, and institutions, an initial global ocean observing system under JCOMM has been established. This system delivers data and information to enable provision of a range of global and regional services mainly based on weather and climate applications. To meet the increasing need for ocean information and improved services, in order to address a wide range of sustainability issues and encourage growth in ocean economies”, said Mr Legler.

Monitoring ocean carbon uptake and acidification

Sustained ocean observations, especially of ocean acidification are vital for sustainable development. Ocean acidification has been recognized as vital to sustainable development by the United Nations and the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 and its indicator 14.3.1. Under the custodianship of the IOC of UNESCO, this indicator mandates measurement of average marine acidity (pH) at representative sampling sites globally.

Several JCOMM networks, such as ship based oceanographic measurements, multidisciplinary moorings, autonomous profiling floats and gliders, provide in situ ocean carbonate chemistry measurements, helping to sustain and expand global ocean acidification observations.

Coordinated and continuous monitoring of the global changes in ocean chemistry enable nations to report on the ocean acidification Global Climate Indicator, as well as the UN SDG target 14.3.

Source: WMO

Editor: Liu Shuqiao