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Home > What we do > Interdisciplinary Bodies > Ocean Observations (GOOS)

Ocean Observations (GOOS)

Created: 1993

Co-Chair: John Gunn
Co-Chair: Eric LindstromGOOS Logo

Under a Memorandum of Understanding, the IOC, the WMO, UNEP and ICSU are responsible for co-sponsorship of the GOOS Steering Committee (GSC). This agreement reflects the importance placed by the World Climate Conference in 1990, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1990, and by the United Nations Conference on Environment & Development (UNCED) in Rio in 1992, on developing a global observing system.

The purpose of such an observing system is to enable the state of the ocean to be described, its changing conditions to be forecast, and its effects on climate change to be predicted, and to facilitate sustainable development by ocean users and managers. GOOS will help nations meet their commitments under the UN Conventions on Climate Change and on Biodiversity, the requirements of UNCED’s Agenda 21 and of the UN Global Plan of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land Based Sources of Pollution (the GPA), as well as national obligations under the conventions and action plans of UNEP’s Regional Seas Programme.

GOOS is now directed at two main themes. One concerns largely the open ocean and is designed to provide information in support of ocean services and the forecasting of weather and climate change. The other concerns largely the coastal seas and is designed to provide information on the health of coastal ecosystems and their sustainable development, on contamination and pollution and the quality of water, on conditions pertaining to offshore commercial and recreational activities, and on marine hazards – especially storms and storm surges likely to affect life and property. (The climate module of GOOS is the ocean component of the Global Climate Observing System, GCOS, making these two systems inseparable).

After a period during which GOOS was implemented through an Initial Observing System, GOOS is now considered to be up and running, though it still has many gaps. In its present form, it is built largely from the merger of a number of pre-existing ocean observing systems. It also comprises a number of regional programmes including those in N.E. Asia (NEAR-GOOS), Europe (EuroGOOS), the Mediterranean (MedGOOS), the Southwest Pacific Islands (PacificGOOS) and the Caribbean (IOCARIBE-GOOS). GOOS is also being taken forward through pilot projects. One of these is a global scale scientific experiment (the Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment, or GODAE) to test the ability of GOOS to integrate global in-situ and satellite data sets in such a way that they can be assimilated into advanced numerical models to produce accurate and meaningful results.

A key component of GODAE is the Argo Project to seed the ocean with profiling floats to collect upper ocean temperature and salinity profiles globally for the first time. GODAE and Argo are pre-operational research projects contributing to active scientific research projects, as well as to the development of GOOS. Initial scientific and technical designs have now been published for the climate module, and for the various components of the coastal module. Thus far the focus has been on ocean physics; increasing attention is now being given to embracing chemical and biological observations.

The space agencies have become substantial contributors to GOOS through their participation in the Integrated Global Observing Strategy (IGOS), in which they are partners with the UN agencies, ICSU, IGBP, IGFA and the global observing systems, GOOS, GCOS and GTOS.

All major collectors of ocean data are now working to a common plan, and in the same direction.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding, the IOC, the WMO, UNEP and ICSU are responsible for co-sponsorship of the GOOS Steering Committee (GSC). This agreement reflects the importance placed by the World Climate Conference in 1990, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1990, and by the United Nations Conference on Environment & Development (UNCED) in Rio in 1992, on developing a global observing system.

The purpose of such an observing system is to enable the state of the ocean to be described, its changing conditions to be forecast, and its effects on climate change to be predicted, and to facilitate sustainable development by ocean users and managers. GOOS will help nations meet their commitments under the UN Conventions on Climate Change and on Biodiversity, the requirements of UNCED’s Agenda 21 and of the UN Global Plan of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land Based Sources of Pollution (the GPA), as well as national obligations under the conventions and action plans of UNEP’s Regional Seas Programme.

GOOS is now directed at two main themes. One concerns largely the open ocean and is designed to provide information in support of ocean services and the forecasting of weather and climate change. The other concerns largely the coastal seas and is designed to provide information on the health of coastal ecosystems and their sustainable development, on contamination and pollution and the quality of water, on conditions pertaining to offshore commercial and recreational activities, and on marine hazards – especially storms and storm surges likely to affect life and property. (The climate module of GOOS is the ocean component of the Global Climate Observing System, GCOS, making these two systems inseparable).

After a period during which GOOS was implemented through an Initial Observing System, GOOS is now considered to be up and running, though it still has many gaps. In its present form, it is built largely from the merger of a number of pre-existing ocean observing systems. It also comprises a number of regional programmes including those in N.E. Asia (NEAR-GOOS), Europe (EuroGOOS), the Mediterranean (MedGOOS), the Southwest Pacific Islands (PacificGOOS) and the Caribbean (IOCARIBE-GOOS). GOOS is also being taken forward through pilot projects. One of these is a global scale scientific experiment (the Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment, or GODAE) to test the ability of GOOS to integrate global in-situ and satellite data sets in such a way that they can be assimilated into advanced numerical models to produce accurate and meaningful results.

A key component of GODAE is the Argo Project to seed the ocean with profiling floats to collect upper ocean temperature and salinity profiles globally for the first time. GODAE and Argo are pre-operational research projects contributing to active scientific research projects, as well as to the development of GOOS. Initial scientific and technical designs have now been published for the climate module, and for the various components of the coastal module. Thus far the focus has been on ocean physics; increasing attention is now being given to embracing chemical and biological observations.

The space agencies have become substantial contributors to GOOS through their participation in the Integrated Global Observing Strategy (IGOS), in which they are partners with the UN agencies, ICSU, IGBP, IGFA and the global observing systems, GOOS, GCOS and GTOS.

All major collectors of ocean data are now working to a common plan, and in the same direction.

by Gisbert Glaser

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