Global Ocean Observing System - Physics & Climate Panel
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The GOOS Physics and Climate panel (The Ocean Observations Panel for Climate) is responsible for the Physics EOVs, and is the lead in delivering to the Climate theme for the Oceans domain, in consultation with other GOOS panels. The Panel's mandate is to provide scientific recommendations and to review the implementation of the ocean observations required for climate in support of its 3 sponsors, the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), and the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP).

OOPC was formed in 1995. It's predecessor was called the Ocean Observing System Development Panel. More details on the historical OOPC activities will be added to the panel webpages shortly. 


Climate change and variability are major societal challenges, and the ocean is an integral part of this complex and changing system. Key to the understanding of the ocean's role in the Earth's climate system is the study of ocean physical processes, including its interactions with the atmosphere, cryosphere, and ecosystems. These processes include, among others, those linked to ocean circulation; the distribution and transport of heat, salt and other water properties; exchanges of heat, momentum, freshwater, and gasses between the different part of the climate system (ocean, atmosphere, sea- and terrestrial-ice, rivers, and land systems).

Ocean and climate physical processes occur on spatial scales ranging from centimeters to global, and time-scales from seconds to millennia. This complex study field requires both oceanographic observations, and modeling tools for paleo-, observed historical, and future climates. Limitations to the full coverage of the field are numerous, including remoteness and physical obstacles to observations (e.g. Arctic sea ice cover, deep ocean), limited funds, limited human resources, political priorities, insufficient technological means, or lack of knowledge of certain processes.

In this context, the role of the GOOS Physics and Climate Expert Panel is to provide science-based recommendations for an fit-for-purpose, sustained and prioritized ocean observing system, focusing on physical variables that maximize support climate monitoring, forecasting, and research.

Action Plan

The OOPC mandate is to:

  • Develop recommendations for a sustained global ocean observing system, in support of WCRP, GOOS, and GCOS climate objectives, including recommendations for phased implementation;
  • Help develop a process for ongoing evaluation and evolution of the observing system and its recommendations;
  • Support global ocean observing activities through liaison and advocacy for the agreed observing plans.
  • Provide advice on scientific requirements to the Joint WMO‐IOC Technical Commission on Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM), which is responsible for the coordination of implementation of platform‐based observing system components.

For further information, see OOPC Work Plan 2013-2018, including annual updates.  

The Products

Essential Ocean Variable and Observing Network Requirements

OOPC has developed specification sheets for each of the Physics Essential Variables, as well as for the physical oceanography Observing networks. Find out more on the GOOS Essential Ocean Variables page.

System Evaluations and Improvement

OOPC is responsible for conducting regular system evaluations to guide the design, evolution and expansion of the sustained ocean observing system. Evaluation is done in liaison with users of the data, based on the optimum suite of platforms for required variables, spatial and temporal scales and accuracy. These evaluations can also lead to project creation. Find out more on system tracking, evaluation and improvement.

State of the Ocean: Climate Indices to Assess Impact and Inform Adaptation

The development of the Global Framework for Climate Services and a mandate from GCOS to move towards delivering observations for assessing impacts and informing adaptation suggests that some focus in the climate indices space would be important. OOPC works on demonstrating the link between ocean variability and regional climate. Find out more on the State of the Ocean [external link].

OOPC Accomplishments

The OOPC has been involved in the organization of OceanObs conferences, in participating in several activities that lead to observing system-related agreements, and in systems-based-reviews of the observing system. OOPC Accomplishments