An Ocean Theme for the IGOS Partnership
The Integrated Global Observing Strategy Partnership (IGOS-P) established, in 1999, a thematic approach to the implementation of the IGOS. Recognising that other themes will emerge, the “Ocean Theme” was chosen to be the “pathfinder” in this approach and an Ocean Theme Team was assembled to formulate guidance. One goal of the Ocean Theme Team is to consider and study the full range of current and planned observations, while identifying potential gaps in future observations that might compromise ocean observational records. This document presents a proposed set of long-term ocean observations and identifies a number of challenges for the improvement of knowledge about both the oceans and observing techniques. The overall strategy is to create an observing system for the oceans that serves the research and operational oceanographic communities. The set of observations is based on an evaluation of the range of requirements that have already been presented by GOOS, GCOS, and GODAE. The next five years must include development of institutional structures committed to (1) managing the total data flow (in situ as well as satellite); (2) managing the production, distribution and quality assessment of relevant data products; and (3) working with end-users to ensure that the evolving system is responsive to their needs. It is also recognised that observation protocols evolve with time and, therefore, that the stated observational requirements will need to be reviewed in future. It is the recognised applications that ultimately drive the shape of the requirements for the ocean observing system. The observations on which we focus here are needed to address important issues in ocean science, and through combinations of measurements and models, to support the production of an extensive range of products for a broad community of users. The applications are directly linked to societal needs, including among other things numerical weather prediction, seasonal-to-interannual climate forecasts, and climate assessment. The data are needed for deriving fields of information about the ocean and for initialising and validating the models used to derive other products. Aside from observations we also need to improve, through the Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment (GODAE) and the Ocean Biology Project, how we assimilate the data into models.