Global Ocean Observing Coordination Activities

Global Ocean Observing Coordination Activities

The oceans provide several critical functions within the earth system, regulating weather and climate, the concentration of gases in the atmosphere and providing important food resources. Ocean and atmosphere scientists are increasingly being called upon to provide data and impartial scientific information to support all levels of management, a challenge that requires more and better coordinated efforts towards observing and understanding oceans and their interaction with the global climate system. The majority of the open ocean, representing nearly 50 per cent of the surface of the globe, is an area beyond national jurisdiction, and so observing it requires a multilateral cooperative approach.


Since its establishment in 1953, and by its fore-runner organization the International Meteorological Organization that was established in 1873, the World Meteorological Organization has been a global leader in promoting and coordinating the collection, management, and free and open exchange of meteorological and oceanographic data, an active supporter of relevant research, and a provider of related operational services. The Members of the WMO, including the United States, use it as a key partner for coordination of global and coastal ocean observing platforms.


This proposal outlines United States contributions to the WMO’s global ocean observing coordination activities for 2012-2015 via NOAA’s Climate Program Office. These activities focus on developing international consensus on the requirements for ocean observations and technical support to ocean observing networks participating in the WMO-led Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) coordination activities which encompass, inter alia, the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS). In investing in multilateral cooperation, the United States ensures that its substantial investment in global ocean observations is matched by other national investment in a system that is compatible and shares standardized data in real time.


Specifically supported is technical coordination within JCOMMOPS, the Observing Programme Support Centre of the Joint WMO-IOC Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM). JCOMMOPS serves:


  • the Data Buoy Cooperation Panel that maintains a network of surface drifting floats measuring temperature, pressure, and surface current,
  • the Ship Observations Team that maintains volunteer commercial ship observations of meteorological parameters, as well as underway measurements of surface and subsurface ocean variables, and
  • the Argo Information Center, a technical support and coordination activity for the global network of more than 3000 Argo profiling floats.


Direct support is also requested for the GOOS component of GCOS, and specifically includes support for:


  • the Ocean Observations Panel for Climate (OOPC), which provides scientific oversight for open ocean GOOS, identifying the requirements for observations for climate and other societal benefit areas, and ensuring the outputs of the system are fit for purpose,
  • support to enhance the coordination with JCOMM Services and Forecasting Systems, to enhance the use of observing information and associated institutional capabilities.