Global Ocean Observing System - Essential Ocean Variables
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foo feasibility

The ocean environment is vast, remote, and harsh, and the cost involved in its observation are high. There is a need to avoid duplication of efforts, across observing platforms and networks, and to adopt common standards for data collection and dissemination to maximize the utility of data. To address these concerns, the Framework is designed to approach ocean observations with a focus on Essential Ocean Variables, ensuring assessments that cut across platforms and recommend the best, most cost effective plan to provide an optimal global view for each EOV.

Essential Ocean Variables are identified by the GOOS Expert Panels, based on the following criteria:

Relevance: The variable is effective in addressing the overall GOOS Themes – Climate, Real-Time Services, and Ocean Health.

Feasibility: Observing or deriving the variable on a global scale is technically feasible using proven, scientifically understood methods.

Cost effectiveness: Generating and archiving data on the variable is affordable, mainly relying on coordinated observing systems using proven technology, taking advantage where possible of historical datasets.

When EOVs are identified, a series of recommendations are created and disseminated by the Expert Panels, including what measurements are to be made, various observing options, and data management practices. Below a list of the GOOS EOVs, linking to each EOV's specification sheet.


Readiness level: CONCEPT | PILOT | MATURE   [Click on each EOV for their repsective spec sheets]

Sea state Oxygen Phytoplankton biomass and diversity
Ocean surface stress Nutrients Zooplankton biomass and diversity
Sea ice Inorganic carbon Fish abundance and distribution
Sea surface height Transient tracers Marine turtles, birds, mammals abundance and distribution
Sea surface temperature Suspended particulates Live coral
Subsurface temperature Nitrous oxide Seagrass cover
Surface currents Stable carbon isotopes Macroalgal canopy
Subsurface currents Dissolved organic carbon Mangrove cover
Sea surface salinity Ocean colour (Spec Sheet under development)  
Subsurface salinity
Ocean surface heat flux


Arrow iconEssential Ocean Variables are central to the GOOS strategic mapping, which describes the observing system in terms of its relation to the GOOS mandates.

GOOS Expert Panels: Defining EOV specifications

The GOOS Expert Panels are responsible for the development of Essential Ocean Variable specification sheets, to help guide the implementation of the Framework for Ocean Observing. Three Expert Panels are responsible for their respective disciplines: