The GOOS Observations Coordination Group launches a new Ocean Observing System report card and introduces the rebranding of JCOMMOPS as OceanOPS along with its first-ever 5-year Strategic Plan (2021-2025).
The 2020 Ocean Observing System Report Card provides an update on the status of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), including the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on ocean observations and lessons learned, advances in observing measurements and initiatives, and the connection with ocean services resulting from the observations.
Motivated by the increasing importance of ocean knowledge for development requirements as well as addressing climate-related trends, the Report Card highlights the value and need for sustained and integrated met-ocean observations, essential to predict the consequences of ocean and climate change, design mitigation and guide adaptation.
“We need to strengthen and fill the geographical and resource gaps in the global ocean observing system to meet the growing demand for weather and ocean services and forecast products, multi-hazard early warning systems, and climate and ocean health applications. There is also a need to support new technologies and the development of autonomous observing instruments,” says Dr. Anthony Rea, Director of infrastructure at the World Meteorological Organization.
In recognition of the fundamental importance of ocean observations to the success of the Ocean Decade, Dr. Albert Fischer, Head of Ocean Observations and Services Section at the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, says, “one of the Decade Challenges is to ensure a sustainable ocean observing system that delivers timely data and information accessible to all users on the state of the ocean, across all ocean basins.”
In the current global Covid-19 pandemic, several ocean observing system and ocean monitoring operations have been likely impacted, as restrictions on shipping and research hinders the repair and replacement of measuring equipment.
“As the global Covid-19 pandemic took hold, some of the ocean observing networks were impacted in surprising ways highlighting both strengths and weaknesses in the global met-ocean observing system; the pandemic has also catalyzed creativity to maintain the in situ observations and may accelerate our use of autonomous instruments and new approaches in the future,” says Dr. David Legler, Chair of the GOOS Observations Coordination Group (OCG).
Months on from the initial pandemic impacts and with research vessel operations far from returning to normal, GOOS has growing concern for parts of the global system. The global pandemic has shown that international cooperation and operational flexibility, such as contracting commercial vessel and using ships of opportunity, are crucial to sustain and maintain the global ocean observation system at sea.
Recently commercial shipping and private initiatives are getting more involved in cost effective and innovative met-ocean data collection projects, in support of ocean observations. “We need a future where commercial, research, and privately owned vessels make multivariate observations, using a combination of automated and human-observed measurements, and where all data and metadata will be available to benefit users of marine information,” says the report card.
The report card also highlights the last remarkable advances in animal-based measurements, which are providing data in important regions that are currently poorly covered by traditional observing platforms, greatly enhancing studies of climate variability and the delivery of information to inform climate prediction estimates at global and regional scales.
The report card was prepared by the GOOS Observations Coordination Group together and OceanOPS.
New 5-year Strategic Plan for the ocean observing system monitoring and coordination Centre (OceanOPS)
The Plan articulates the required strategic goals, objectives, and challenges to realize the vision for OceanOPS to provide vital services in monitoring, coordinating, and integrating ocean data and metadata, across an expanding network of global oceanographic and marine meteorological observing and service communities in support of improved services and capabilities.
OceanOPS core functions are to monitor and improve the GOOS performance, lead metadata harmonization, support and enhance operations, and enable new data streams. OceanOPS also addresses the strategic earth-system prediction goal of WMO by enhancing data and information flow from the ocean.
“On the strength of our experience, of our infrastructure built slowly and strategically, and following up a review process, we shaped a clear 5-year Strategic Plan, together with our stakeholders, to project our activities into the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. Rebranded, with a new name that both preserves the JCOMM Observing Programme Support Centre legacy and sounds clearer for our larger community, we are now rounding a new cape. We will keep sharping our eye (OPS in Greek mythology) on the GOOS and cultivate the integrated concept in all our actions”, says Mathieu Belbéoch, OceanOPS Lead.