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Today, the world's oceans are being observed routinely and systematically by means of satellite and in situ techniques. But the global ocean observations system is changing.

After a decade of work on integrating Earth- and satellite-based observing networks, thereby establishing new observation methods that have made a tremendous impact on the way climate change and physical oceanic variability is measured, scientists are once again exploring uncharted waters and looking to set a new course for the future at the OceanObs'09 Conference in Venice, Italy on September 21-25.

Ten years ago-at the first conference for a comprehensive, ocean observing system-scientists envisioned measuring satellite altimetry of sea-surface height with tide gauges and buoy measurements in order to forecast ocean currents. They brainstormed methods for monitoring changes in temperature and salinity in the Southern Ocean and the South Atlantic which had never been systematically monitored. They also drew up a plan for implementing a global array of temperature and salinity floats that would profile the water column down to a depth of 2,000 meters in real time. The initiatives launched at that conference a decade ago have since provided data that fed the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments of human influence on climate change; improved seasonal forecasts crucial for agriculture, hydropower, and storm prediction; and provided information invaluable to the lives and safety of mariners.

OceanObs'09 will analyse this past decade of achievement and steer the observing system in a new direction for the future. The aim will be to take stock of the progress made over the last 10 years, present scientific results based on global ocean observations, consider the related societal and economic benefits, examine the present frontiers of global ocean observations and look at the way ahead in the coming decade.

Nearly 600 participants from 36 countries will attend OceanObs'09 to discuss the societal and economic needs that the ocean observing system should address over the next 10 years.
Ensuring the sustainability of the observing system is also forefront on the agenda. Commitments to further enhance and continue operations are needed from satellite agencies and for in situ networks alike.

With a better understanding of how the ocean operates has come a sobering awareness of the impacts of changes on marine ecosystems. Understanding the role of carbon flux between the atmosphere, land, and sea is a challenge that scientists must meet if the consequences of political decisions regarding carbon emissions are to be monitored and assessed.

Information meeting for the media

On Monday 21 September, media representatives will have the opportunity to attend an in-depth briefing for the press at the conference venue. Scientists from contributing institutions, as well as other experts, will give insight into the future of ocean observations and its scientific objectives. Ed Harrison, a co-chair of the Organizing Committee for OceanObs'09 will moderate the information meeting, which will start at 13:15 and include a working lunch for the media and speakers.

13:15-13:30 Registration in Sala Griffith

13:30-13:35 Introduction of the speakers - Ed Harrison, physical oceanographer with NOAA's PMEL and a co-chair of the Organizing Committee for OceanObs'09

13:35-13:40 ESA's role in observing the oceans from space - Volker Liebig, Director of Earth Observation Programmes, ESA

13:40-13:45 Operational services for ocean observation from Eumetsat - Mikael Rattenborg, Director of Operations, Eumetsat

13:45-13:50 Sea level: regional and global trends - Anny Cazenave, CNES, Member of the French Academy of Sciences

13:50-13:55 The changing acidity of the oceans - Richard Feely, NOAA

13:55-14:00 The need for ocean observations and information - Shailesh Nayak, Secretary, Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences

14:00-14:45 Question and answer session.

A working lunch will be served during the media information session.

The co-chairs of the conference Organizing Committee will be available on Friday 25 September 2009 after 17:30 (Italian time) for telephone interviews with members of the press interested in the conference outcomes.

Press registration

Media representatives wishing to attend the information meeting for the media or other parts of the conference OceanObs’09 are kindly requested to complete the accreditation form (click to download) and return it by fax or e-mail by Thursday, 17 September, to the OceanObs’09 Lead Media Contact indicated below, which can also be contacted for any media queries related to the conference, including for setting up interviews, or obtaining images or background information.

Lead Media Contact:
Dieter Isakeit
Communication and Knowledge Department
Frascati, Italy
Tel. +39 06 941 80950
Fax. +39 06 941 80952

Additional Media Contacts:
Christina Reed
Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO

link to EUMETSAT media feature »

Help with setting up interviews or obtaining images, or background information will also be available.

Websites of interest / more information

Main conference website is www.oceanobs09.net
Conference agenda is www.oceanobs09.net/agenda/
Accommodation info www.oceanobs09.net/accommodation/
We will grant free registration also to the whole conference to any credentialed full-time journalist or professional freelance journalist with proven affiliations to major publications or outlets. If you are a reporter and would like to attend, please contact us under the address given above.

The media information session is a joint initiative of the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC), all sponsors of the conference along with other partners. It is therefore possible that you receive the same invitation from different sources, as a result of the individual mailing lists.

 Contact: info .at. oceanobs09.net © 2009 IOC/UNESCO