United Nations System-Wide
Earthwatch Working Party 6
(Geneva, 13-14 March 2000)

Annual report to the Earthwatch Working Party
Prepared by the GOOS Project Office

21 February 2000
Agenda Item 11


1. WMO and the IOC formed JCOMM (the Joint WMO/IOC Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology), to help to implement GOOS and other marine operations.

2. The GOOS Initial Observing System (GOOS-IOS) was expanded by the inclusion of the Continuous Plankton Recorder Survey, the ICES International Bottom Trawl Survey, and selected time series stations ('S' and BRAVO).

3. Retrospective analyses in published in 1999 show that the first indications of the 1997-98 El Niño event appeared in subsurface data from the Tropical Atmosphere-Ocean (TAO) array of buoys in the tropical Pacific, which is part of the GOOS-IOS (Leetma et al, 1999; McPhaden et al, 1999). Reports published by Weiher (1999) indicate the benefits arising from investment in the ENSO forecasting system including the TAO buoys.

4. Further general advice on the GOOS design was published by Nowlin (1999), Nowlin et al, (1999), Woods (1997) and Woods (in press).

5. The spectacular performance of the TOPEX/POSEIDEN altimeter, the vastly improved global wind fields provided by the NSCATT scatterometer, and the increased lifetimes and reliability of profiling floats forced a revisit of the original design for an observing system for ocean climate. The design was considered at an ocean observations conference at St Raphael, France, in October 1999. The key message for the space agencies from the Conference was the need for continuity of key observations (eg. sea-surface height; surface winds; ocean colour; sea-ice). A gravity mission is essential to improve estimates of the geoid, so as to improve the accuracy of altimetric measurements.

6. The Conference gave high priority to deployment of profiling floats in the Argo Project. Over a 4 year period, Argo will provide some 300,000 profiles that together give full global coverage of the ocean interior for the first time. Added to satellite data from the ocean surface these profiles will underpin models of ocean behaviour and of climate.

7. The needs of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and developing countries are addressed by the initiation of three new GOOS regional programmes: IOCARIBE-GOOS for Caribbean states; MedGOOS for Mediterranean states; and an Indian Ocean programme which is being developed through the new IOC(GOOS) Office in Perth, Western Australia

8. Several major oceanographic institutions formed a Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO), designed to aid in the development and implementation of GOOS.


Leetma, A., Higgins, W., Anderson, D., Delecluse, P., and Latif, M., 1999, Application of Seasonal to Interannual Predictions: a Northern Hemisphere Perspective. In Proc. OceanObs 99: The Ocean Observing System for Climate, 18-22 October, 1999, St. Raphael, France, Vol.1. CNES, Paris, 13pp

McPhaden, M.J., Delcroix, T., Hanawa, K., Kuroda, Y., Meyers, G., Picaut, J., and Swenson, M., 1999, The ENSO Observing System. In Proc. Oceanobs 99: The Ocean Observing System for Climate, 18-22 October, 1999, St. Raphael, France, Vol.1. CNES, Paris, 14pp

Nowlin, W.D., 1999, A Strategy for Long-Term Ocean Observations. Bull. Am. Met. Soc., 80 (4), 621-627

Nowlin, W.D., Smith, N.,, Harrison, E., Koblinsky, C., and Needler, G., 1999, An Integrated, Sustained Ocean Observing System. Proc. OceanObs 99: The Ocean Observing System for Climate, 18-22 October, 1999, St. Raphael, France, Vol.1. CNES, Paris, 8pp

Weiher, R.F., 1999, Improving El Niño Forecasting: The Potential Economic Benefits. NOAA, Washington, 57pp

Woods, J.D., 1997, The EuroGOOS Strategy. In Stel, J.H., Behrens, H.W.A., Borst, J.C., Droppert, L.J., and Meulen, J.v.d., (eds.), Operational Oceanography: The Challenge for European Co-operation. Proc. First Internat. Conf. on EuroGOOS. Elsevier Oceanogr. Ser. 62, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 19-35

Woods, J.D., in press, Ocean Predictability. Bruun Memorial Lecture, IOC 20th Assembly, IOC, UNESCO, Paris 


Operational oceanography is being developed at the global scale under the aegis of GOOS, which is sponsored by the IOC, WMO, UNEP and ICSU. GOOS is a response to the demands of UNCED's Agenda 21. It is designed to provide descriptions of the present state of the sea and its contents, and forecasts of these for as far ahead as possible, for a wide range of users, and to underpin forecasts of changes in climate. It is not solely operational, but includes work to convert research understanding into operational tools.

GOOS differs from most present observing systems (i) in having modeling and forecasting as part of its mandate, as well as the collection of data; (ii) in being holistic, integrated and interdisciplinary, rather than narrow and sectoral; and (iii) in being designed to deliver useful products for both decision makers and the scientific community.

In many respects, GOOS is like a spatially distributed large facility, and needs the same kind of international management as CERN or the ODP. If it is designed and managed well, GOOS should provide nations with the ability to convert research results into useful products to meet societal needs. One thing it will benefit from is a unified and integrated infrastructure for cost effective operations. That infrastructure is likely to be provided by the newly formed Joint WMO-IOC Technical Commission on Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM), the operation of which is likely to change the face of oceanography over the next 10 years. JCOMM, formed by the recent merger of the WMO's Commission on Marine Meteorology WMO's Commission on Marine Meteorology (CMM) and the IOC/WMO Integrated Global Ocean Services System (IGOSS), will facilitate the collection of both marine meteorological and subsurface data through increasingly automatic systems from the same ships, the improved data gathering network and data flow leading to more efficient services.

2.1 Needs, Benefits and Costs

Most operational oceanography is carried out locally to solve local problems – for instance to provide information for oil platform operators in a specific area, or to model water levels in a particular port and its approaches, or to model an oil slick. However, in all of those cases local conditions are subject to regional controls set in a global ocean-atmosphere-ice system within which there are teleconnections between areas thousands of miles apart . As John Woods pointed out in the 1999 Bruun Lecture, there is a flow of information from one part of the ocean to another. For example, the oceanography, water quality and biology of the North Sea are affected by processes far out in the Atlantic and in the Gulf Stream; the depth of the thermocline off Peru is affected by events far away in the eastern Indian Ocean and western Pacific; and swell heights off South Africa depend on weather in the Southern Ocean.

GOOS is designed to assess and analyse that information flow, so as to provide the boundary conditions required to improve the accuracy of local forecasts and other services. By providing the local user with an accurate regional framework, GOOS will help to improve predictability. It will complement, but not replace, the collection of data and application of models for specific local applications.

Improving predictability demands routine, systematic, long-term measurements of relevant ocean properties on a global basis, or at the very least on a basin-wide scale. The ENSO forecasting system is a good example of GOOS operating at the basin-scale. Analyses published in 1999 show that it was successful in helping countries to plan ahead to reduce impacts .

Improving the system will require funding to maintain and extend the observational network, to improve the numerical models used to process data, and to improve the methods by which the data are assimilated into models.

Numbers of studies have been published on the benefits of making global ocean observations. Where calculations have been made, a return on investment of significantly greater than 10% seems commonplace, the costs of implementing and maintaining an observing system and its associated forecasting service being substantially less than the huge losses incurred from single events like major hurricanes, or multiple events like those caused by the El Niño and the La Niña (Weiher, 1999). Much of the benefit from such forecasts comes not from the marine sector but from improving prediction of the water cycle, and precipitation on adjacent land masses to help manage supplies of water and food and to anticipate and mitigate floods and droughts, or from improving prediction of thermal conditions on land, so contributing to the management of energy supplies.

At the same time as the benefits of developing GOOS are becoming more apparent, the costs of making observations are dropping. As Woods pointed out in his Bruun Lecture in 1999: satellites are becoming cheaper, and measurements of upper ocean properties are beginning to be made by profiling floats and autonomous underwater vehicles more cheaply than can be achieved from expensive research vessels.

2.2 The GOOS Design

GOOS will differ from most present observing systems (i) in having modeling and forecasting as part of its mandate, as well as the collection of data; (ii) in being holistic, integrated and interdisciplinary, rather than narrow and sectoral; and (iii) in being designed to deliver useful products for both decision makers and the scientific community.

Several strategic elements have to be considered in any design for sustained ocean observations of the kind required for GOOS, among them those listed in BOX 1 by Worth Nowlin:


implement operational observing systems for different environments;
determine user needs and design sustained observing systems to meet requirements;
coordinate observing systems via an integrated global observing strategy;
develop mechanisms to involve researchers in the planning and oversight of observing system components;
establish formal relationships between ocean and atmosphere communities for purposes of data collection, communication and analyses;
ensure timely release of data for intended uses;
implement data and information management systems, supplementary to existing systems, that are attuned to the multiple sources of data and their multiple uses;
develop and implement enhanced capabilities for the production of products;
establish the coordination and agreements between agencies within nations necessary to integrate observing system activities;
devise arrangements to provide stable, long-term support for required observing systems elements;
develop and use new technologies. 

Advice on the GOOS design is published on the GOOS Web site. Detailed strategies for implementation are being devised by scientific advisory panels on Climate, Living Marine Resources, Health of the Ocean (dealing with pollution and its consequences), and Coastal Seas. At the time of writing, the work of these advisory panels on the GOOS design was rapidly drawing to a conclusion (their progress is visible on the GOOS Web site). Finalised strategies for implementation are expected to emerge during 2000-2001.

Implementation will be incremental, and full implementation, following tests of the system through pilot projects, is expected to be achieved in the period 2010-2020. As part of the design and implementation exercise, Observing System Simulation Experiments (OSSEs) will be needed to discover what appears to be the most economical mix of observations capable of constraining models so that they yield desired products with appropriate accuracies.

At the detailed design level, it is anticipated that we will see an open ocean GOOS devoted mainly to weather climate forecasting and related issues, and a Coastal GOOS that has a much higher density of observations and addresses a wider variety of issues including pollution and living marine resources. The details of the design will vary from one area to another, depending on local concerns. For example, observational networks should be designed to take into account the variability of risk from one region to another for different kinds of natural hazards, such as hurricanes, or unusually high winds associated with storm surges.

For the open ocean, the spectacular performance of the TOPEX/POSEIDON altimeter, the vastly improved global wind fields provided by the NSCATT scatterometer, and the increased lifetimes and reliability of profiling floats has forced a revisit of the original observing system design for ocean climate, as described in section 7, below.

2.3 The GOOS Initial Observing System (GOOS-IOS)

As mentioned in the 1998 Annual Report, there is now a GOOS Initial Observing System (GOOS-IOS) uniting the main global observing sub-systems supported by the IOC, WMO and (in the case of coral reefs) the IUCN, and including measurements from ships, buoys, coastal stations and satellites (see BOX 2). In addition to these international elements, as of July 1999 many nations are now contributing substantial parts of their national observing systems to GOOS. The GOOS-IOS is the nucleus on which GOOS will grow in the future. The managers of most of these systems, including a representative of the IOC's International Data and Information Exchange programme (IODE) are working through J-COMM to make the GOOS–IOS efficient and cost-effective. During 1999 three new elements were added to the GOOS-IOS: (i) plankton data from the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) Survey, managed by the Sir Alastair Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science; (ii) time series data from time series stations 'S' (Bermuda) and Bravo (Labrador Sea); and (iii) physical, chemical and biological data from the International Bottom Trawl Survey (ITBS) of the North Sea, managed by ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea);

Although the implementation of GOOS through the GOOS-IOS has begun by exploiting existing systems, rather than following a specified design, it is expected that the existing systems will be adapted to meet the design requirements, and that new components will be added as appropriate, following publication of the GOOS designs in 2000-2001.


  upper ocean measurements made by the Ship of Opportunity Programme (SOOP);
  marine meteorological measurements made by the Voluntary Observing Ship (VOS) programme of the WMO;
  observations of sea-level made by the tide gauges and pressure gauges of the Global Sea Level Observing System (GLOSS);
  observations from fixed and drifting buoys coordinated by the Data Buoy Cooperation Panel (DBCP);
  observations from the operational ENSO observing system in the tropical Pacific, including the Tropical Atmosphere-Ocean (TAO) and TRITON array of buoys for monitoring El Niño;
  ocean surface and marine meteorological measurements made by NOAA's operational satellites;
  plankton data from the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) Survey, managed by the Sir Alastair Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science;
  time series data from time series stations 'S' (Bermuda) and Bravo (Labrador Sea);
  physical, chemical and biological data from the International Bottom Trawl Survey (ITBS) of the North Sea, managed by ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea);
  the monitoring activities of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN);
  high quality data from the upper ocean provided by the Global Temperature and Salinity Profile Programme (GTSPP);
  ocean data collected by the Global Data Centre managed by NOAA;
  transmission of information through the Global Telecommunications System (GTS) of the WMO;
  GOOS Products available on the electronic Products Bulletin at:

2.4 GOOS Pilot Projects

Pilot projects are being developed to take forward aspects of the GOOS design. The main GOOS pilot project is GODAE, the Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment. Its key objectives, as re-designed this year are:

(i) To apply state-of-the-art ocean models and assimilation methods for short-range open-ocean forecasts, for boundary conditions to extend predictability of coastal and regional subsystems, and for initial conditions of climate forecast models.

(ii) To provide global ocean analyses and re-analyses for developing improved understanding of the oceans, improved assessments of the predictability of ocean systems, and as a basis for improving the design and effectiveness of the global ocean observing system.

GODAE will demonstrate the power of integrating satellite and in situ data, the power of assimilating data into numerical models, and the value of a global system capable of working in real-time. GODAE is needed not only for open ocean analyses and forecasts, but also to establish boundary forcing for regional models to improve forecasting in coastal systems at the local level.

There has been good progress with national initiatives. The US will establish a server dedicated to GODAE data at the Fleet Numerical Meteorological and Oceanographic Center (FNMOC) in Monterey, California. This is a significant and important commitment. It will include high real-time capacity, distributed data handling capability, holdings of GTS and other data with a residency time of at least 30 days.

To feed the requirements of GODAE, a global net of upper ocean temperature and salinity data is needed for integration with the global net of surface ocean data provided by remote sensing from satellites. To provide global coverage of upper ocean temperature and salinity, the GOOS/GODAE community is planning the Argo Pilot Project, which will seed the ocean with 3000 profiling floats that will rise from (say) 2000m to the surface every 14 days, each one collecting 100 CTD profiles over a 4 year period. At maximum capacity Argo should provide 300,000 profiles that together give full global coverage of the ocean interior for the first time. Added to satellite data from the ocean surface these profiles will underpin models of ocean behaviour and of climate.

The GODAE Science Team (GST) is developing a strategic plan. Implementation plans conforming to the GODAE strategy document will be prepared for separate projects (e.g. Argo) by the project steering Panels. Consideration will be given in the plan to enabling developing countries to contribute to GODAE. For example, while developed countries may provide the floats for Argo, developing countries may best be in a position to deploy them in their regions. They may also be best able to provide logistics and maintenance for components of the GODAE observing network.

Another major GOOS pilot project is PIRATA (Pilot Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic), which extends the TAO array to monitor ocean and atmospheric variables and upper ocean thermal structure at key locations in the tropical Atlantic region. PIRATA data, in real-time will improve understanding of ocean-atmosphere processes, so leading to improved climate prediction for Africa and South America. It is intended that once past the research phase, PIRATA should become a permanent operational programme. (end 2000 - beginning 2001).

For both TAO and PIRATA vandalising buoys by fishermen is a threat to moored devices for climate observation, and needs to be addressed by the UN.

2.5 GOOS Regional and National Programmes

GOOS is also being planned and implemented at the regional level. Several newly created GOOS regional bodies are expected to increase their capabilities and implement operational activities during the next 5-10 years, thus helping the further development of GOOS. In many respects these regional programmes, with their focus largely on coastal seas, are already implementing aspects of Coastal GOOS, as well as elements of the GOOS-IOS, like GLOSS and the GCRMN.

2.5.1 Small Island Developing States (SIDS): The interests of SIDS are being taken care of in four main GOOS regional projects. They include: PacificGOOS, covering S.W. Pacific island states; MedGOOS for Mediterranean island states; IOCARIBE-GOOS for Caribbean island states; and WIOMAP (Western Indian Ocean Marine Applications Project). In addition through a newly created IOC(GOOS) Office in Perth, Western Australia, we are beginning to spin up an Indian Ocean programme which will help Indian Ocean island states. A PacificGOOS meeting was initially proposed for 1999, but will now take place in Rarotonga in April 2000. A MedGOOS meeting took place in Rabat, Morocco, in November (see 5.2, below). Although we have not yet found funds to start WIOMAP, an Indian Ocean GOOS planning meeting involving many regional representatives took place in Perth in September. A Caribbean meeting, at which IOCARIBE-GOOS was formed, took place in Costa Rica in April with a follow-up in November.

2.5.2 Africa and the Mediterranean: Top priorities for the GOOS-AFRICA Coordinating Committee continue to be:

(i) encourage the formation of an Africa-wide network of national ocean data centres that are properly equipped and staffed by trained personnel;
(ii) upgrade and expand the present African network of stations for the measurement of tides and sea levels so as to provide warnings on potentially hazardous and costly changes in the local marine environment - such as sea level rise;
(iii) create a network of specialists trained in the use of data acquired by remote sensing from space satellites so that coastal managers have ready access to the rapidly increasing wealth of spatial data on the coastal environment;
(iv) facilitate the further implementation of modern electronic communication systems such as Internet connections and data transfer mechanisms so as to promote effective communication and availability of information for coastal planning.

As a follow-up to the PACSICOM (Pan-African Conference on Sustainable Integrated Coastal Management) meeting in Maputo in July 1998, we have now begun planning proposals to implement priorities (ii), (iii), and (iv). The first is already being effected through the work of ODINAFRICA. The GOOS-AFRICA report of the PACSICOM meeting is now available on the GOOS Web site, or in hard copy.

MedGOOS provides a link between EuroGOOS and GOOS-AFRICA, some Mediterranean countries belonging to both EuroGOOS and MedGOOS, and some African countries belonging to both MedGOOS and GOOS-AFRICA. During November 1999, the GOOS-AFRICA Committee co-sponsored a MedGOOS workshop in Rabat, Morocco, essentially on behalf of all the North African countries. The workshop, on "The Benefits of Implementation of the Global Ocean Observing System in the Mediterranean, MedGOOS", was attended by members of all Mediterranean countries but one. The outcome of the workshop will be a set of proposals for different donor agencies, including the European Commission and the funders of the post-PACSICOM process. At the meeting several countries signed the MedGOOS Memorandum of Understanding and worked in the development of the MedGOOS Strategy.

Other GOOS-related meetings in Africa included a PIRATA meeting, held in Cape Town in December, to plan African involvement in that project, and the third session of Coastal GOOS, held in Accra in April.

2.5.3 Europe: The second EuroGOOS Conference, attended by over 300 people, was held in Rome, Italy, in March 1999; the proceedings will be published by Elsevier. Key reports were published on Operational Data Requirements and on Technology, the latter outlining the areas of instrumentation and the development of instrument platforms deemed most valuable in the near future. Most EuroGOOS documents are now available on their Web site. The EuroGOOS Web site has been adapted to provide a route enabling users to access many of the real-time data displays of EuroGOOS Members. These individual sites are averaging hits of tens of thousands per month, indicating that there is widespread user interest in operational oceanography. EuroGOOS's work behind the scenes has led to operational oceanography and global ocean observations having a high profile in the new budget lines of the European Union's Framework V Research Programme. Planning continues for the development of pre-operational research projects to develop the skills and capabilities to implement GOOS. And significant operational developments are taking place in the six EuroGOOS sub-regions: the Mediterranean, the Arctic, the Baltic, the northwest shelf, the Black Sea and the wider Atlantic.

2.5.4 N.E.Asia Region GOOS (NEAR-GOOS): NEAR-GOOS is increasing its constituents and contributors and will move towards ocean forecasting.

2.5.5 North Atlantic Region: A new GOOS Coordinating Committee has been established jointly between the IOC and ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) to build on ICES activities and databases in the region.

2.5.6 National GOOS Programmes: At the national level, many coastal countries are planning or collecting their own coastal seas observations following GOOS Principles. We encourage all IOC Member States to form National GOOS Coordinating Committees involving all stakeholders (advice on such a committee is given on the GOOS Web site). In July, 22 countries attended the Initial GOOS Commitments Meeting in Paris, and committed substantial parts of their present observing systems to GOOS. As the latest details of the GOOS designs emerge over the next 18 months, we anticipate that national agencies will adapt their observing systems and data exchange practices to meet the emerging GOOS requirements, so as to make GOOS work as intended. Continued implementation of GOOS at the national level is essential to facilitate GOOS development.

2.6 Coastal GOOS (C-GOOS)

To find out what users are interested in seeing produced by coastal GOOS, C-GOOS meetings are being held in different regions, primarily in developing countries. In 1999 the panel held meetings in Accra, Ghana (April) and Tianjin, China (November). Each included a one day Stakeholders' Workshop to promote user input to the planning process and to determine capacity building needs.

C-GOOS priorities are: (i) preserving healthy coastal environments (which includes consideration for example of habitat loss, nutrient over-enrichment, harmful algae blooms etc.); (ii) promoting sustainable use of marine resources; (iii) mitigating coastal hazards (which involves consideration for example of storm surges, tropical storms, erosion and sea-level rise etc.); and ensuring safe and efficient marine operations.

The design strategy being developed by the C-GOOS panel is converging on two components:

(i) a global network to document the global dimensions of local to regional patterns of change in coastal waters and to provide the large scale perspective required to distinguish between locally generated patterns and those generated by regional-global scale forcings; and

(ii) area networks (pilot projects) that incorporate selected index sites where high intensity observations provide the basis for understanding the causes & effects of environmental variability and for the development of models required to translate data into useful visualisations & predictions.

The core elements of the global network will include: (i) Remote sensing (winds from scatterometers, sea surface height from altimeters, surface temperature from AVHRR sensors and ocean color); (ii) In situ measurements (an enhanced sea-level measuring network, enhanced arrays of instrumented moorings and fixed platforms, drifters, voluntary observing ships/ferries for monitoring critical sections, and observations from autonomous or remotely operated vehicles; (iii) Coastal Ocean Watch - a flexible observing network for making basic in situ measurements in the near-shore zone. (Coastal laboratories, schools, NGOs can be networked into the COW-module to monitor environmental conditions in the coastal zone; "Community measuring kit"); and (iv) a data management system.

The pilot projects are being developed to test C-GOOS concepts or demonstrate how the C-GOOS design works. These include for instance: (i) south-east Pacific coastal oceanography in relation to far-field forcing; (ii) a hazard warning system for the south-west Atlantic coast; (iii) an environmental pollution and forecasting project in the Adriatic; (iv) a harmful algae bloom monitoring network; and (v) a storm surge modelling project in NE Asia.

An initial task is to determine what monitoring activities and capabilities already exist that may constitute an initial coastal observing system. An inventory of the existing monitoring systems of the IOC Member States, has been compiled and developed into a Web-site that will be updated as the programme develops. The inventory includes hyperlinks to Web-sites of Member States' monitoring programmes (where available), and a series of maps displaying many of the monitoring stations in the inventory. The inventory Web-site will be expanded to include a searchable metadata directory where users may search the global monitoring inventory based on location, parameter measured, and measurement device or platform. The development of this metadata system is being carried out in collaboration with IODE, LOICZ, GOSIC, and the CEOS / NASA Global Change Master Directory Programme.

2.7 Observations for Climate

An ocean observing system for climate is being developed by the Ocean Observations Panel for Climate (OOPC), which is jointly sponsored by the WCRP and GCOS. The latest advice on what is required for implementing a physical observing system in support of climate monitoring and forecasting for GOOS and GCOS was published on the GOOS Web Site as "Global Physical Ocean Observations for GOOS/GCOS: an Action Plan for Existing Bodies and Mechanisms".

During 1999 the OOPC focused on preparing for the first international Conference on the Ocean Observing System for Climate (OCEANOBS99), which was convened jointly with the CLIVAR Upper Ocean Panel (UOP) in St Raphael, France from October 18-22, 1999 (see BOX 3). The vision of the consensus-seeking Conference at St Raphael was that we are seeing the dawn of a new era for oceanography and ocean observations, where the core needs of research and the long-term needs of operational applications are addressed by a viable and sustained effort that meets the collective need rather than the individual want. At the heart of this vision is the belief that the strategy must be based on global integrated networks of high quality but cost-effective space-based and in situ measuring systems, with timely and efficient distribution of data and products to all participants. The Conference sought consensus between the research and operational communities regarding the most appropriate blend of observations required to satisfy the collective needs of research and operational applications. The Conference also welcomed the introduction of a new paradigm for oceanographic data systems, where rapid dissemination and wide sharing of data is the norm.

The Conference was a success; it enjoyed 21 sponsors and was well attended by key officials and senior scientists in positions to promote the implementation of the ocean observing system for climate. Some 340 individuals representing 20 countries participated. The Conference outcome generated the encouragement looked for by those who have worked long hours over many years to move the concept of a global climate ocean observing system climate closer to reality. The results also demonstrated that the close interaction and cooperation between the OOPC and the CLIVAR UOP was critically important in leading to an observing system design for the upper ocean that satisfies the needs of both the operational and the research communities.


In terms of remote sensing, the Conference endorsed continuation of sustained low resolution (100km) sampling for sea surface temperature (SST). It recognized the significant impact of remote and direct measurements of sea surface height for understanding ocean dynamics, and supported the establishment of a sustained measurement programme consisting of one precision altimeter, and one high resolution altimeter. It strongly endorsed the need for global daily observations of surface winds, with at least 25km resolution, which can be accomplished by one swath scatterometer of Seawinds quality. And it endorsed the need for continued measurements of ocean colour as a proxy for ocean productivity. Sustained passive microwave systems are needed for observing the concentration and extent of sea-ice. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data were recognized as useful for surface wave applications and ice studies, although it was accepted that such observations were rather costly. A gravity mission was regarded as essential to improve estimates of the geoid, and hence to underpin further improvements in the accuracy of altimetric measurements of sea surface height. Finally the Conference strongly supported the development of global remote sensing of salinity. These recommendations are further endorsed by the Partners in the Integrated Global Observing Strategy (IGOS). The key message for the space agencies is the need for continuity of certain kinds of observations from one mission to the next.

In terms of in-situ observations, the Conference gave high priority to maintenance of the ENSO observing network. It noted that coverage of sea surface temperature by ships of opportunity and drifting buoys is poor in some locations and must be rectified. Higher quality is needed, as well as a broader suite of measurements, to better determine surface fluxes. The emphasis should shift from broad-scale areal sampling to collecting higher resolution surface and upper ocean data with higher frequency along selected SOOP lines. The Argo Project was endorsed as an effective strategy for global sampling of temperature and salinity in the upper ocean. Repeat sampling along selected hydrographic lines was endorsed to complement the more frequent sampling of systems like Argo and SOOP. Fixed location time series measurements at a selected number of stations would help to provide long time-series and resolve complex interactions. Surface wind data should be collected by dedicated surface moorings. Special attention should be given to observations in ice-covered areas, boundary currents, regions of intense episodic convection, straits and other constricted pathways. 

The "drivers" for OOPC activities for the future now fit into into 4 themes:
(i) ENSO and related seasonal-to-interannual prediction;
(ii) climate change, including elements of the carbon cycle and sea-ice;
(iii) short-range ocean (and marine) prediction and fields for meteorology; and
(iv) general requirements for the climate database and climatologies.

The elements of a strategy that has developed for responding to these plans/design are:
- seek effective implementation mechanisms (e.g. through JCOMM);
- establish integrating "frontier" pilot projects (e.g. GODAE and Argo described in section 4, above);
- gain wider interest and involvement (e.g. through continuing interaction with the UNFCCC);
- encourage partnerships, and build consensus (e.g. cooperation with CLIVAR UOP, and the Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean (POGO).

Prospects for implementing many of the recommended enhancements to the climate observing system are now very good (e.g. via Argo). Many different strands have come together to make this possible (e.g. the decisions of COP V of the UFCCC, the momentum of the OCEANOBS Conference, the establishment of JCOMM), and the development of POGO). The OOPC is determined to do its utmost to exploit the unprecedented opportunity these events present to put in place an observing system that will stand the test of time.


This module is concerned with pollution of seas and oceans and the degradation of ecosystems and their components by contaminants and pollution. A strategic plan has been published (IOC/INF-1044, May 1996), and the latest thinking of this advisory panel is published as GOOS report 40 (report of the 4th session of the HOTO Panel, Singapore, October 1997). In effect HOTO is an operational extension of the IOC's GIPME programme.

One of the key aims of the HOTO Panel has been to provide sensitive rapid assessments of contamination from discharges of sewage and chemical pollutants, as well as of physical stresses associated with land reclamation and development of coastal areas for tourism and industrial activities. HOTO's main pilot project is Rapid Assessment of Marine Pollution (RAMP), designed to test and provide easy-to-use, inexpensive chemical and biological markers that can be used to assess pollution and improve environmental management. A RAMP pilot project was initiated in Brazil in 1997. RAMP's immunoassay-based tests provide an inexpensive, rapid and highly selective means of measuring specific chemical compounds and have been used to diagnose medical conditions for many years. Recently the technology has been directed towards environmental contaminants in water, food and soil samples. The analyses can be run by relatively unskilled personnel in the field and provide obvious advantages for developing countries. Limited trials have proved of great interest and some environmental agencies are discussing incorporation of such techniques for screening. The choice of determinants amenable to detection by the rapid chemical analyses procedures is broad and thus the most relevant contaminants were selected following surveys and discussions with the Brazilian partners. PAH, PCB's, organochlorine and organophosphorous pesticides, selected herbicides and fungicides have all been identified as relevant environmental contaminants/pollutants. Biomarkers used in the RAMP programme are simple to use, inexpensive and reliable. They provide a means of detecting deterioration in the condition of biota from contaminated sites. Progress to date in Brazil has been excellent. Based on the early success of the work, plans are being developed to perform RAMP programmes in the Caribbean region in mid-1999 and in Vietnam in the near future.

2.9 Living Marine Resources (LMR)

LMR GOOS intends to provide information that: 1. describes changes in ecosystems over time, including fluctuations in abundance and spatial distribution of species; 2. helps interpret observed changes in relation to such factors as natural environmental variability, anthropogenic climate change (including increased UV radiation), predation/disease, and fishing activities; and 3. contributes to forecasting future states of marine ecosystems.

The LMR GOOS panel met twice in 1999, in Montpellier, France, and Talcahuano, Chile, to make progress in developing a strategic design plan to achieve these ends. One first step in developing the design was to use retrospective experiments to test whether existing monitoring systems have been effective at forecasting and detecting major ecosystem changes. In 1999 panelists conducted retrospective studies for the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, the northwest Pacific, and the coastal upwelling system off California and Mexico. Particular attention was given to such an experiment on the eastern Scotian Shelf where major changes in cod stocks occurred. In addition, as a contribution to the retrospective experiments, the 1999 PICES Annual Meeting in Vladivostok convened a symposium on the nature and impacts of North Pacific Climate Regime shifts in which the 1976-77 regime shift was analyzed.

The retrospective experiments have guided the panel toward the development of generic operational observing system which operates on three scales: open-ocean, coastal ocean and coastal/inshore. The three system approach is necessary because of differences in observing system cost and feasibility between coastal and more offshore areas. Observations will be made at higher resolution in areas of particular ecological significance or importance for human activities. A proposal has been developed for an open-ocean observing scheme, and several examples of regional observing systems are being considered.

Recognising that LMR GOOS development should exploit existing monitoring systems, the panel has nominated several ongoing monitoring systems as components of the GOOS IOS, and has designated others as LMR GOOS Pilot Projects. Five programs were recommended for inclusion in the IOS - the SAHFOS Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) survey; the ICES International Bottom Trawl Survey; the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI); Southern Ocean monitoring in connection with the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR); and Finland's Alg@line program. Other programs for possible inclusion in IOS are (1) Line P - Station P, (2) EcoFISH, (3) ECNASAP, and the Japan and Korea observing systems. Pilot projects include a North Pacific CPR Network, and a project on Biological Action Centers (BACs) in the eastern North Pacific.

2.10 GOOS Services and Products Bulletin, and GOOS Newsletter

At the GOOS Steering Committee meeting in Beijing (April 26-29, 1999) it was decided to establish a GOOS Service and Products Bulletin to provide regular and continuous information on the range of products and services associated with GOOS, and to illustrate the point that GOOS is about the development and operation of an end-to-end data and information system. GOOS has been developed to provide data products and services to a wide range of users, including policy makers, industry, research, and the general public, and the bulletin will provide these groups with an overview of the kinds of services and products available from GOOS.

The bulletin will be produced primarily on the Internet, updated monthly, with print issues every 6 months. It will contain highlights of products from existing GOOS programmes (IGOSS, GLOSS, TAO, DBCP), GOOS pilot programmes (PIRATA, Argo, GODAE), regional GOOS programmes, and international monitoring programmes relevant to GOOS. The bulletin will be managed by an Advisory Board which will set criteria of quality assurance, documentation standards, and data availability standards for all products. Features of the bulletin will include a set of user-scenarios, designed to help users determine what products or set of products would be suit their needs, and a searchable directory with hyperlinks to available products.

One set of GOOS products is already available through the IGOSS (now JCOMM) Electronic Products Bulletin managed by Yves Tourre at Columbia University (see IGOSS/JCOMM EPB Web site).

A GOOS Newsletter providing information on GOOS and related activities is published in hard copy and on the GOOS Web site. One issue appeared in April 1999, and a December 1999 issue will be issued in January 2000.

2.11 Global Sea Level Observing System (GLOSS)

The Global Sea Level Observing System (GLOSS), is an international programme co-ordinated by the IOC for the establishment of high quality global and regional sea-level networks for application to climate, oceanographic and coastal sea level research. GLOSS is an integral component of GOOS.

Since 1933, the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL) has been responsible for the collection, publication analysis and interpretation of sea level data from the global network of tide gauges. A contract between IOC and PSMSL was signed in 1999, as in previous years, to keep continuity of sea level data availability to all Member States participating in GLOSS. All PSMSL data, including those from GLOSS stations, are on the PSMSL Web site.

The IOC Group of Experts on GLOSS, chaired by Philip Woodworth of the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, UK, held its sixth meeting from May 10-14, 1999 in Toulouse, France. Two workshops [(i) Ocean Circulation Science derived from the Atlantic, Indian and Arctic Sea Level Networks (which will result in an IOC Workshop Report); and (ii) GPS at tide gauge benchmarks for long-term sea-level change studies for altimeter calibration (which will result in an 'IOC Manual 3' on how to operate GPS near to tide gauges)] were held in connection with the meeting. The meeting report and related documents are available on the PSMSL Web site.

Two thirds of the 287 GLOSS Core Network stations appear to be operational. Eighty-five GLOSS stations report to the WOCE 'Fast Delivery'/'Real-time' Data Acquisition Center in Hawaii, with data usually available within one to two months of data collection. There is a growing need for real-time data, for model data assimilation or altimeter calibration, but also for more efficient data gathering and quality control. Special efforts will be made to get all authorities to go 'real-time' in the near future.

The meeting endorsed the 'ex officio' right to membership of the Group of Experts by the Directors PSMSL, UHSLC, NTF, WOCE Centres, IAPSO/CMSLT, IGS and other future appropriate bodies, although this list wis not exclusive or exhaustive. This extension of the Group should increase the number of people well-briefed about GLOSS who will be able to represent the programme at international meetings.

The meeting endorsed the concept that a sub-group of the Group of Experts be formed to provide scientific advice, especially for climate. This sub-group could become a joint committee with OOPC, CLIVAR/UOP and IAPSO/CMSLT. This proposal was approved by the 20th IOC Assembly.

GLOSS is now collaborating with the Coastal Panel of GOOS, especially in relation to the C-GOOS plans for sea level measurements.

Several sets of tidal analysis software continue to be widely distributed and play a major role in improving data quality and timely delivery. The IOC Manuals and Guides on methods for operating gauges will be re-written and updated during 1999/2000.

There have been seven issues of the GLOSS Bulletin on the PSMSL Web site, and an eighth is in preparation. The Afro-American GLOSS News (AAGN) continues to be produced by the University of Sao Paulo; it has articles mostly in Spanish and Portuguese, and is available in hard copy and on the Web (http://www.mares.io.usp.br/ ). The meeting recommended that the AAGN be co-produced with the University of Cape Town so as to widen African interests. An updated two page brochure advertising GLOSS has been produced by the PSMSL with 2000 copies printed for circulation in the UK. A Portuguese version (thanks Dr. Eduardo Marone) is available on the PSMSL Web site.

A training course on sea-level measurements and analysis was held at the Instuto Oceanografico da University of Sao Paulo, Brazil from August 30 – September 25, 1999, and organised by Professor Affranio de Mesquitta and his staff. Participants from 8 countries in Africa and South America were represented.

2.12 Ship of Opportunity Programme (SOOP)

The SOOP, orignially a product of IGOSS, and now to be managed by the new body, JCOMM, is now an integral part of the GOOS Initial Observing System (IOS). Information about SOOP is available on the new SOOP Web site (http://www.brest.ird.fr/soopip). Some 14000 XBT profiles were made during the first six months of 1999 by SOOP operators from Australia, France, Germany, India, Japan, and USA, including about 8500 profiles in the Pacific Ocean, 3200 in the Indian Ocean, and 2300 in the Atlantic Ocean. The Equatorial and North Atlantic Ocean is well covered while the South Atlantic is under-sampled. The Indian Ocean is adequately sampled except in the south. The Pacific Ocean is relatively well sampled, except in the south. And the Southern Ocean is under-sampled. To optimise XBT deployments, SOOP operators are considering upper ocean thermal data requirements, available resources, and other sources of data, and co-ordinating their efforts.

Since June 1999, SOOP has been served by a Co-ordinator, Mr. Etienne Charpentier, who also serves as technical co-ordinator of the Data Buoy Co-operation Panel (DBCP). Based on input from SOOP operators and data users, the Co-ordinator evaluates available global programme resources and real-time data flow, and, to some extent, data quality, and provides SOOP operators with information enabling them to improve co-ordination and overall network efficiency.

The SOOP Implementation Panel (SOOP-IP), chaired by Mr. Rick Bailey of the Joint Australian Facility for Ocean Observing Systems (JAFOOS), has recently defined its implementation plan. Ways to enhance co-ordination between VOS and SOOP programmes are being considered, and to this end SOOP was formally represented at the (then) CMM VOS meeting in Athens, Greece, in March 1999, and at the JCOMM First Transition Planning Meeting, in July 1999, in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

To assist the develomentof the implementation plan, an Upper Ocean Thermal Review was conducted and a dedicated workshop held in Melbourne in August 1999, under the sponsorship of the NOAA Office of Global Programmes and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. A paper summarising the contributions and results from the workshop and entitled "The role of XBT sampling in the ocean thermal network", was presented at the OceanObs99 conference in Saint Raphaël, October 1999. The paper is available via the SOOP web site.

The workshop reviewed the past experience with XBT sampling from the ship-of-opportunity programme. Until now, sampling has been in three modes: low density, frequently repeated and high density. SOOP has been extremely cost-effective for science and, latterly, for operational applications. However as GOOS and JCOMM develop it is timely to consider a change of direction and a new focus. The workshop proposed a major revision of the SOOP. The programme would gradually withdraw from areal sampling while the Argo float programme is implemented, and would at the same time ramp up its effort in line (transect) sampling. The line sampling would include both intermediate resolution, frequently repeated lines, and high-density, quarterly repeat lines. This change in approach enhances complementarity with existing elements, particularly the TAO buoy array and altimetry data, and seeks optimum complementarity for the system envisaged for the future. The new design will address several important scientific goals, both for GOOS and CLIVAR. It will make unique contributions in terms of in situ eddy-resolving data sets and in terms of the repeated lines. It is estimated that this new design will not have significant resource implications. This new mode of operation opens up opportunities for new and different kinds of observations from SOOP, though this has to be balanced against the good-will being offered by the shipping companies. The workshop also made some recommendations on data management to improve efficient and effective use of the data.

During the year, a comprehensive users guide for thermosalinograph installation and maintenance aboard ship was prepared and published by IRD in Nouméa. Copies of the guide can be obtained from IRD in Nouméa or can be downloaded from the SOOP Web site.

2.13 Data Buoy Cooperation Panel (DBCP)

The Data Buoy Co-operation Panel was jointly established in 1985 by WMO and IOC to: (i) achieve the optimum use of any data buoy deployments being undertaken worldwide and an increase in the amount and quality of buoy data available to meet the objectives of major IOC and WMO programmes; and (ii) encourage and support the establishment of "action groups" in particular programmes or regional applications to effect the desired co-operation in data buoy activities. It is served by a full-time Technical Co-ordinator funded through voluntary contributions by some Member States of IOC and Members of WMO. In future, DBCP will report to JCOMM. The new reporting procedures necessitate some minor changes to the DBCP's Terms of Reference, which will be submitted to the forthcoming sessions of the Executive Councils of IOC and WMO for formal approval.

The panel's fifteenth session (Wellington, 26-29 October 1999), highlighted several items for 1999. They noted that acts of vandalism have seriously damaged several deep water buoys, and asked WMO to write to the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) requesting the promulgation of navigational warnings regarding the presence of data buoys and value of the buoy data to the safety of mariners.

In May 1999, with assistance from the Technical Co-ordinator, Collecte-Localisation-Satellite (CLS)/Service Argos opened a DBCP Internet forum (http://www-dbcp.cls.fr) to facilitate debate on technical issues and to exchange information among buoy operators or actors. The forum presently includes themes such as Argos (technical questions, Joint Tariff Agreement (JTA) information, etc.), DBCP (QC, buoy technology, etc.), Global Telecommunication System (GTS) of WMO (formats, QC, technical questions, problems, etc.). It also includes "sub-forums" or "teams" reserved for a smaller community: evaluation of Surface Velocity Programme buoy equipped with a barometer and a wind sensor (SVPBW)/Minimet (reserved to SVPBW evaluation group), DBCP (reserved to DBCP members), and European Group on Ocean Stations (EGOS) (reserved to EGOS members). If desired, new "teams" dedicated to other DBCP Action Groups (AG) could be created on the forum with privileged access for AG Participants. For example, the AG "team" can be administered by the AG Co-ordinator, as is the case for EGOS;

A DBCP brochure was printed and distributed in early 1999. The French, Portuguese and Spanish versions have also been printed and are being distributed by the end of 1999.

The panel discussed the issue of metadata communication and archiving. It recognized that it is crucial for both scientific and operational purposes to have easy access to metadata concerning buoys that are reporting onto the GTS and also for archived data. When using the data, users must have certain information in hand in order to conduct their work as efficiently as possible (e.g. buoy type, drogue type, drogue depth, instruments and calibration procedures, anemometer height, etc.). The panel therefore requested the Technical Co-ordinator to prepare a set of DBCP recommendations about buoy metadata database, based on inputs from DBCP members and to submit it to the Sub-group on Marine Climatology of JCOMM. The sub-group will meet in early 2000 and take the DBCP recommendations into account. In addition, the panel recognised that there was also a need to include certain types of metadata in the telecommunicated reports from data buoys (e.g.: buoy type, drogue type, and drogue depth, if any; anemometer height or indication that the Wind Observation Through Ambient Noise (WOTAN) device is being used). Inclusion of such information requires small changes in the code form used to transmit the data. The panel agreed in principle with this proposed code change. It requested members to pass comments and suggested modifications regarding the proposal to the technical co-ordinator by the end of November 1999. The technical co-ordinator would then finalize the proposal and pass it to the WMO Secretariat for consideration and approval by the Commission for Basic Systems (CBS) in late 2000.

The Technical Co-ordinator, working with CLS, had evaluated developments required for GTS distribution of sub-surface float data. Technical specifications for inclusion of sub-surface float data processing within the Argos GTS sub-system were written and sent by CLS to a French company for evaluation. Based upon requirements and request for GTS distribution of sub-surface float, CLS decided to go ahead with the developments. Work should be finalised in January 2000. Specifications have been written based upon existing formats of floats deployed by JMA (PALACE), Woods Hole (PALACE), and IFREMER (PROVOR). With this type of instrumentation, it would be unrealistic to aim for a universal data processing system, so standards based upon existing formats have been proposed. There is, however, room for flexibility within proposed specifications.

The Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) of NOAA informed the panel that, because of priorities within the USA buoy community (NOAA and Scripps principally), it was no longer in a position to purchase and deploy SVP Barometer drifters, in particular in the Southern Ocean. Under certain conditions, interested meteorological agencies could use the Global Drifter Programme (GDP) potential of deploying standard SVP drifters to upgrade such buoys with a barometer by paying for the equivalent cost of the barometer. Costs of deployment, as well as the Argos communications costs would continue to be met by AOML. The panel noted with considerable concern the likely loss of important atmospheric pressure data from the Southern Oceans that would result from this decision. It recommended that the meteorological services concerned should consult together and with other interested agencies, perhaps by way of the DBCP Forum, with a view to developing a common position regarding the offer from AOML. They should then undertake direct discussions with NOAA on a resolution of the problems and the possible eventual implementation of the offer.

The Argos Joint Tariff Agreement (JTA) meeting promotes the use of the Argos system for the location of and data collection from buoys and other platforms, both ocean- and land-based, by securing a preferential tariff for governmental users. The negotiations that take place at the annual meeting have to take into account the expenses incurred by CLS/Service Argos (the "operating costs") as well as the national budgets for platform location and/or data collection. At the XIXth meeting (Wellington, 1-3 November 1999), the main topics for discussion were to: (i) assess and review the operation of the new basic principles adopted by JTA-XVII for the 1998 and 1999 JTAs at least; and (ii) devise a mechanism to overcome the financial constraints faced by the participants on the one hand and CLS/Service Argos on the other.

The principles adopted at JTA-XVII were based on the recognition that the number of platforms processed in the system did not impinge significantly upon CLS/Service Argos operating costs. The JTA users would therefore have to pay annually a certain amount of money to CLS (initially, 60% of the operating costs) and be allowed a 35% increase ("bonus") in Argos system usage without further charge. That "bonus" could be compounded over two years (i.e. 1998 and 1999) provided that the sum guaranteed to be paid to Argos by the user did not decrease in 1999 from that guaranteed at JTA-XVII. At JTA-XIX it was evident that the operating deficit of Argos had continued. The meeting considered that efforts should begin immediately to address this deficit problem, and eventually to eliminate entirely the accumulated Argos operating losses. A five-year plan (2000-2004) was developed to eliminate the annual operating deficit, and to remove the accumulated losses. Reduction in the accumulated losses should occur towards the end of the plan, but the annual operating deficit would be partially reduced from the first year. 


GOOS: http://ioc.unesco.org/goos
GLOSS: http://www.pol.ac.uk/psmsl/gloss.info.html
PSMSL: http://www.pol.ac.uk/psmsl/psmsl.info.html
SOOP: http://www.ifremer.fr/ird/soopip/doc/review/review.zip
DBCP: http://dbcp.nos.noaa.gov/dbcp/
IGOSS/JCOMM Electronic Products Bulletin (EPB): http://iri.ldeo.columbia.edu/climate/monitoring/ipb/
JCOMM: http://ioc.unesco.org/goos/jcomm.htm.
GODAE: http://WWW.BoM.GOV.AU/bmrc/mrlr/nrs/oopc/godae/homepage.html
OOPC: http://www.BoM.GOV.AU/bmrc/mrlr/nrs/oopc/oopc.htm
Argo: http://www.argo.ucsd.edu/
EuroGOOS: http://www.soc.soton.ac.uk/OTHERS/EUROGOOS/
NEAR-GOOS: http://ioc.unesco.org/goos/neargoos.htm
IGOS Partners: http://www.igospartners.org

Return to homepage

UN System-wide Earthwatch Coordination, Geneva