“You can’t manage what you don’t measure”: Designing and building ocean observing and monitoring systems to support robust ocean health assessments and improve the ability (and chances) of marine industries and governments making good decisions on sustainable development.
In the Anthropocene, a suite of pressures on our oceans are threatening species, ecosystems, livelihoods and indeed some of the planet’s core life support systems. For the last few decades scientists have been banging the drum, trying to get the message across to politicians, policy makers and the community that the impacts of these pressures, now and in the future, will cause massive harm to our global community. Although “climate change”, overfishing, pollution and even noise are acknowledged as pressures by many, arguably the science community has had mixed success in a. getting the message across that mitigation and adaptation are critical and immediate needs, and b. driving the required responses. Indeed, in some countries there is growing push back on what is sold as science “doom and gloom” messages.
Having worked at the interface between science, policy and community for many years, I think one of the impediments to getting our messages across is the lack of robust and publically available data sets, collected at time and space scales that allow us to talk with authority about historical trends and current state, and provide a basis for projections of future state.
The climate science community awoke to this issue over thirty years ago and through the World Meteorological Organization and UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission they developed the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) and associated Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS). These two global collaborations have driven the collection of data at space and time scales required to develop and improve Global Climate Models. They have precipitated massive innovation in observing technologies (satellite sensors/systems; robotics), and driven a culture of sharing data, models, and coordinated assessments (IPCC AR etc).
The ocean biogeochemistry and biology/ecology communities have lagged behind the climate scientists, and as a result global assessments of these elements of the ocean system range from patchy to grossly inadequate. Over the last five years, GOOS and GCOS have worked hard to extend their ocean observing systems for physics to include biogeochemistry and biology. I will provide an overview of the progress that has been made, and use a new integrated monitoring program that is being developed for the Great Barrier Reef as a case study of how we might finally start to develop comprehensive and robust observations and data sets for ocean ecosystems.
Auditorium, Level 0 between Bld. 2 and Bld. 3
08:30 - 09:00