Advancing Ocean Observations

2017-05-15T13:47:12+00:00 May 15, 2017|
Scientists attend community workshop on ocean observing. (Credit: Jun Wei Fan/Flickr)

(Click to enlarge) Scientists attend community workshop on ocean observing. (Credit: Jun Wei Fan/Flickr)

The 10th community workshop, “Road to Ocean Obs ’19: FOO-ward Progress,” was attended by scientists who receive funding to monitor ocean climate trends, as well as provided a venue for the government and academic community to review programmatic progress, plans, and goals for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (which includes the Ocean Observing and Monitoring Division). Speakers at the three-day event assessed requirements, identified challenges, and fostered coordination between stakeholders and observational programs, and workshop delegates assessed current data usage by stakeholders.

COL’s President and CEO RADM Jon White (ret.) delivered a keynote address highlighting the imperatives and challenges for sustained ocean observing. He shared one of the major obstacles to success – its obscurity. To help people understand the critical role of ocean observations, White stressed the importance of communicating its place in strengthening our security (national, homeland, and food and water), providing economic prosperity, and ensuring human health. Without proper ocean observations, efficient prediction capabilities, and ongoing technological advancements, all of these areas are at risk. The Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017 (H.R.353; PL 115-25) which was signed into law in April, moves in the right direction by including language highlighting the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) observations and data. In closing, White answered questions concerning effective communication methods with the administration and Congress, stressing the need “to come together to champion these causes” and to work with other organizations and industry who are advocating for ocean observations.

During programmatic updates, Wayne Higgins (Director, NOAA’s Office of Oceanic Research and Climate Program Office (CPO)), provided an overview of the progress of observations and monitoring at CPO, which seeks to enhance our ability to plan and respond to the changing climate by understanding climate variability. CPO is focused on accelerating the transition from research to operations and on facilitating coordination, collaboration, and integration of ocean climate research and observations—nationally and internationally. He described activities and program goals as falling into one of three categories: observation systems, climate monitoring, and data stewardship; understanding and modeling; and informing decisions. David Legler (Chief, NOAA’s Ocean Observing and Monitoring Division) discussed the progress and future of the Ocean Observing and Monitoring Division (OOMD), which designs, deploys, and maintains an integrated, global network of oceanic and atmospheric observing instruments to produce continuous records and analyses of ocean and atmosphere parameters. OOMD supports (designs, deploys, and maintains an integrated, global network of oceanic and atmospheric observing instruments) programs, which fall into the Global Observing System (GOOS); currently, NOAA leverages approximately 50 percent of GOOS. All of the OOMD-sponsored global observation networks (an international collaboration) provide global coverage and real-time data and maintain fixed and autonomous platforms. Moving forward, OOMD hopes to galvanize national and international collaborations to increase their observational areas to include the deep ocean, Arctic, and areas of increased carbon sequestration and to expand their forecast abilities. In the future, OOMD hopes to focus on increased utilization of the Framework for Ocean Observing (FOO), balanced research and observations, amplified communications, increased value chain efficiency, and improved performance metric while seeking new financial partnerships.

Access to these global observations and analyses of observational data has provided our nation with invaluable information needed to mitigate risk, answer fundamental questions about our blue planet, and provide critical information for balancing environmental and economic benefits.