Final Draft Conference Statement

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This Final Draft of the Conference Statement was negotiated by session and community fora chairs and the Program Committee and presented to the conference on Friday 25 September, considering comments received by noon on Thursday 24 September.

Comments on this final draft are open through 4 October 2009.

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14 open review comments to “Final Draft Conference Statement”

  1. Nick D'Adamo says:

    Comments 25 Sep 2009, on the draft statement, by Nick D’Adamo:
    Officer in Charge, UNESCO IOC Perth Regional Programme Office, & Advisory Board member, Australian Integrated marine Observing System

    I felt that up front, a set of actions directed at all of us as conference delegates was needed … to motivate direct and targeted actions. in addition, i believe the delegates and their institutions should be encouraged to use existing global coordianting resources and frameworks (eg in the UN / UNESCO / IOC framework) and then where they believe their are deficiencies to use work to address those through the use of intergovernmental mechanisms …. to this end I have tried to incorporate these as follows in the communique … i accept that there may be a better place to have these thoughts incorporated into the communique than in the section up front … but I at least wanted to record my views down here for your consideration ….


    Routine and sustained provision of global information regarding the marine environment sufficient to meet society’s decision-making needs for useful forecasts of marine variability (including physical, biogeochemical, ecosystems and living marine resources), of seasonal to decadal climate variability, sustainable management of living marine resources, and for assessment of longer term trends


    In order to serve the needs of our nations and of the global community We, the Participants of the OceanObs’09 Conference in Venice, having broadly consulted with the communities involved in the production, distribution and use of ocean information call upon the national and regional sponsors of the international marine and climate science organizations; research agencies and laboratories; and operational marine environmental services to substantially enhance internationally-coordinated sustained observation of the world ocean, provided as a public good in the service of all by using the community plans identified here to:
    1. Understand key societal relevancies of the historical and existing global ocean and climate related observing system;
    2. Identify and adopt, as high priority institutional objectives, the critical societal needs for ocean and climate related observations into the next decade;
    3. Develop and adopt institutional objectives and complementary action plans to respond to these ‘critical societal needs for ocean and climate related observations into the next decade’ in their own domains of responsibility;
    4. Develop and adopt institutional objectives and complementary action plans in order to respond to these ‘critical societal needs for ocean and climate related observations into the next decade’ as part of the integrated global ocean and climate related observing system, through tangible support of, and collaboration with, global programs and coordinating bodies;
    5. Critically review the capacities and extents to which the current framework of global and programs and coordinating bodies meets their needs in respect to the above imperatives, as relevant to the to provision, coordination, facilitation and integration of the global community’s efforts;
    6. Use and support the initiatives of the world’s comprehensive existing coordinating bodies for ocean observations (UN and related bodies; community driven bodies);
    7. Take advantage of and use existing intergovernmental forums (such as UNESCO IOC) to raise international awareness of and redress, at a high governmental and institutional levels, any identified gaps and needs to improve the capacities of global programs and coordinating bodies to meet their needs and support their activities.

    In the above context, incorporate appropriate objectives into the agenda of the proposed working group through Action Item 2 (AC-2) of this communiqué, below.


    We must observe, assess and forecast marine conditions to serve our societies’ needs for marine information. Despite the need for this information there are not many institutions in our nations organized to carry out the needed actions at present, so the observing system has been built largely by research agency activities to address national scientific and management priorities.

    Janice R. Trotte-Duhá Reply:

    I would like to echo my voice to Nick D’Adamo statement made during the conference (he was faster than me, so no need to become repetitive), with an additional view regarding the role of the IOC/UNESCO in coordinating not only GLOBAL efforts but also - and mainly - REGIONAL activities through the existing GOOS Regional Alliances. Those are the bodies that had made a difference in bringing ACTION within local Governments with the view to becoming part of a global ocean observing system, as envisioned by OceanObs 09, for 2015.
    In my personal view, this capacity has been severely underestimated during the Ocean Obs09 conference but I would expect that those working under IOC regional offices, like Nick and myself, and truly involved in implementing and supporting regional observing programmes, would be attentive to the outcomes of OceanObs 09 and willing to collaborate in reaching objectives stated under AC1 to AC5.

  2. Patrick Heimbach says:

    Statement item “BECAUSE all climate forecasts and projections and …” should be precedented or combined with an item that mentions “understanding”!
    NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco actually put it succinctly by saying: “Prediction requires understanding, and understanding requires observing.”
    We still need to stress the point of improving our understanding, not just forecasting.

  3. Patrick Heimbach says:

    There is no mention of the word “ice” in the statement, yet recent rapid changes in the polar regions have underlined the importance of monitoring the cryosphere (e.g., changing sea-ice in the Arctic; the role of changes of polar ice sheets/ice shelves in future sea-level). I suggest that “systematic observations of cryospheric processes” be added, either in ‘AC 2′ or in a new item, to reflect the tight coupling between oceanic and cryospheric processes (ocean/sea-ice; ocean/land-ice).

  4. Kevin Trenberth says:

    I have the following comment/suggestion on the conference statement

    1) There is no mention of the GCOS Climate Monitoring Principles and there must be. Suggestion 1 is to make a new bullet at end as follows:
    (AC6) Urges governments, organizations and the ocean observing community to implement the GCOS Climate Monitoring Principles to ensure continuity of record and adequate metadata to enable reprocessing and reanalysis of the records.
    Suggestion 2 is to add on first page to the 7th para starting
    “Core principles…” at the end add “…and should conform to the GCOS
    Climate Monitoring Principles.”

    2) The “Initial Ocean Observing System” has a lot of traction and has been used by Mike Johnson a lot in his metrics. What is the new one called? I urge a name for all this. Possibilities might be
    Ocean Observing System phase 2. (or version 2)
    Enhanced ocean observing system
    Ocean Observing System ‘09.


  5. Trevor Guymer says:

    The Conference has placed an emphasis in its strap-line on societal benefits and to some extent this has been reflected in the sessions. However, I wonder whether the Conference Statement says enough on linkage with policymakers. Hardly any of the participants represent those organisations in their countries that have responsibility for funding and executing activities to fulfil national and regional marine policies, e .g. monitoring and assessing the state of our seas.

    When we talk to these people about the global ocean observing system they still suspect that it is the research community trying to tap into new funding sources for their own purposes. Therefore they are very wary of GOOS. What doesn’t help is when the marine scientific community tries to tell them what they need in a rather patronising way. They know what the policy issues are but need help in knowing what observations are really essential. Coming up with a long list of variables, techniques, platforms etc without any prioritisation and costs tends to aggravate them. I think we have failed to establish an appropriate dialogue and therefore haven’t developed the sort of partnership which I think is going to be essential to develop and sustain the observing system.

    I would therefore like to see the Statement include text that explicitly promotes this dialogue in a way that doesn’t patronise the policy people. Although this ultimately needs to happen at the intergovernmental level this would take time but through OceanObs maybe we can accelerate the process. I would suggest that a Working Group that focused on this issue is needed even more urgently than the one that has been proposed. It could also prepare the ground for international agreements on collecting data for the public good in EEZs and developing the institutional frameworks to facilitate the transition from R and D to sustained observations. The WG should have both observing system experts and those who have experience in the policy arena.

    Best wishes

  6. John Gould says:

    I wonder what is the significance is of the word “routine” on the first line of the VISION. To me it adds nothing and actually suggests to the reader that the measurements that we are advocating are neither exciting nor important. This is certianly not the meaasge we are trying to convey. I suggest the word be dropped.

    AC1 seems to me to be a very dangerous statement. In the case of Argo it is a call for nationas and governments to do less than we are doing at present! If a reference to OceanObs’99 is deemed necessary, I suggest the following wording:-

    “Call on nations and governments to fully implement by 2015 a truly global ocean observing system as initially envisioned at OceanObs’99 and subsequently refined in light of experience and technical developments”

  7. Stefan Vogel says:

    I am missing in the statement especially in the BECAUSE section a statement which directly link ocean obserations to IPCC, climate change and high latitude and other oceanobs frontier areas, where our understanding of processes is incomplete and where baseline measurements are missing.

    It would be great to insert into the statement one or two lines similar to

    BECAUSE oceans play a vital role in the Earth’s Climate system and ice-ocean interaction processes play a key role in little understood high latitude climate change amplifications

    BECAUSE ocean observations directly aid in assessing future climate change (IPCC)

    BECAUSE many ocean processes remain little understood and basic baseline measurements are essentially missing (e.g. high latitude and deep sea)

    Specifically mentioning high latitude, ice-ocean processes and climate change would help in securing additional funding from related non-oceanobs sources in establishing oceanobs at oceanobs frontiers.

  8. Shiro Imawaki says:

    The following sentence should be included somewhere in the “supporting organizations section, including UNESCO, IOC, WMO, etc. ” (the second page)

    The International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Oceans (IAPSO) co-sponsors the Standard Seawater Service, which provides the absolute reference for all salinity observations, and also co-sponsors the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level, which collects and quality-controls sea level from a global network of tide gauges.

    John Gould and Shiro Imawaki
    On behalf of IAPSO Executive Committee

  9. Zaharia says:

    Adding one more “Because” in the Conference Statement.
    Good morning… or good afternoon… everybody !

    I would like to draw yr attention on 5 comments posted last week here:

    I realize now that some of them may better find their place (if any…) in the Conference Summary [CSu], rather than in the Conference Statement [CSt] !

    However, I would like to recall the proposal to add, in the “Because series” [of the CSt], the following one: “Because no single country may perform all the Ocean Observations which are necessary…” Of course this addition is intended to imply a statement, (straightforward to us but not necessarily to all political leaders), such as:
    “Oceans Observations not shared are almost useless… data sharing is not only sound, but mandatory !”

    Because of the severe undersampling of the Ocean… (even if it has improved since the times when H. Stommel[#] was speaking of “the imagination of oceanographers… as a mean to offset the lack of observations” !), I would also like to add, [in the CSu], a recomm. emphasizing “Mass procurement”…
    For instance, if we believe that more observations below 2000 m… may cast some light on the mysterious way heat is entering our oceans, (every year… it’s an amount of heat equivalent to ~10-15 times our 2001 global primary energy consumption), THEN… mass procurement may be a way to lower the (much too high…) cost(*) of deep profilers !

    NB These personal views may or may not be supported by Le Club de Argonautes.

    [#] H. Stommel in 1966: “When I emphasize the imperfection of observing techniques perhaps I should say that I wrote this chapter during a succession of midnight-to-dawn watches during an attempt to survey the Somali current near Socotra in the heart of the Southwest monsoon.

    It is rather quixotic to try to get the measure of so large a phenomenon armed only with a 12-knot vessel and some reversing thermometers.

    Clearly some important phenomena slip through the observational net, and nothing makes one more convinced of the inadequacy of present day observing techniques than the tedious experience of garnering a slender harvest of thermometer readings and water samples from a rather unpleasant little ship at sea. A few good and determined engineers could revolutionize this backwards field ” (1966 !!)

    (*) Deep profilers such as “EMMA”; see: as well as:

  10. Gary Brassington says:

    Some specific comments on the content of the statement:

    1. The comment of 36 nations is made to emphasize representativeness of the group. This should be put into some further context (how many islands and countries have maritime interests) and further how many continents and ocean basins are represented.

    2. It is noteworthy to recognise that due to the importance of the ocean to the climate, all nations regardless of maritime interest have a stake in the outcomes of this community. The statement could include a recognition of the responsibility placed upon this group to develop, conduct and monitor a coherent plan that responds to societies existing and future questions.

    3. Status of GOOS-2009. A stronger statement could be made on behalf of the community on the status of the implementation of OceanObs’99. A related comment is required to determine if these requirements were right. The statement is weakened if it does not show that the knowledge gained over the past decade is refining our requirements for the next decade. An indication of the task to be dealt with by the working group.

    4. The statement “BECAUSE global information for forecasting weather…”, could be strengthened to indicate the societal need for ocean information over all scales and to achieve seamless prediction.

  11. martin hoerling says:

    Some suggested revisions and additions:

    1. In the Vision statement, replace “useful hindcasts, nowcasts and forecasts” with “describing, understanding and forecasting”

    2. In the paragraph beginning “Core principles…”, modify the last sentence to read “Observations must be openly shared in near realtime. They must therefore be collected, analyzed, archived, and distributed to international standards with agreed best practices”

    3. In the list of “Becauses…”, add the following after the second “Because”:

    “Because ocean observations are essential for developing a process understanding of variability from daily to centennial time scales”

    “Because process understanding built upon ocean observations is central to validating and improving ocean models used for weather and climate forecasting”

  12. Matthias Lankhorst says:


    two things:

    1. “sustain”
    The word “sustain” means a lot to us, but I believe the implied meaning is not obvious to an outsider. I suggest adding an explanation that much of the present system is funded through temporary research grants, rather than having a long-term perspective. Maybe add on page 1:
    “…are fragile and insufficient, based on transient funding situations, and lack long-term perspective.”

    2. “data management”
    One repeated issue raised during the meeting was the need for reliable data management and archiving. I did not find these words directly in the statement, although they are implied in (AC4). I would suggest that in (AC4), “metadata” be replaced by:
    “data management including archiving and metadata preservation”.

    Thanks, M.L.

  13. Gregory Johnson says:

    In the “vision” portion of the document it might be useful to change “assessment of longer term trends” to “climate change assessment” and move that phrase right up being “useful” on the second line.

    In the “BECAUSE” statements I would like to see the entire world ocean stressed. Also, if we are going to call out ocean acidification, should not heat, freshwater, CO2, and oxygen transport and storage be emphasized as well? Also, for AC4, what about data archeology and re-analyses?