Scientific and societal requirements for ocean observing have evolved significantly over the past decade from being primarily focused on climate-related issues to include a much wider set of phenomena such as the degradation of coastal habitats, pollution, ocean acidification, over-exploitation of fisheries, biodiversity decline, de-oxygenation and more.
The ocean observing community realized that qualifying and quantifying the simultaneous impacts of multiple stressors on ocean ecosystems cannot be achieved without a truly multidisciplinary (physics, biogeochemistry and biology) approach to observing. This requires re-thinking of many observing strategies and often calls for a compromise approach (within and across- disciplines) to building a fit-for-purpose global ocean observing system.
The complexity of the marine carbon and biogeochemistry system and its numerous connections to carbon’s atmospheric and terrestrial pathways means that a wide range of approaches have to be used in order to establish its qualitative and quantitative role in the global ocean observing system. The International Ocean Carbon Coordination Project (who acts as the GOOS Biogeochemistry Panel) coordinates this highly diverse set of activities and facilitates the development of globally acceptable strategies, methodologies, practices and standards which homogenize efforts of the research community and scientific advisory groups as well as integrate the ocean biogeochemistry observations with the multidisciplinary global ocean observing system.
The GOOS Biogeochemistry Panel works with the global community on the following tasks:
- Establishment of societal and scientific requirements for biogeochemistry observations and monitoring
- Identification of a set of high-impact, high-feasibility biogeochemistry-related Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs) allowing to meet the current societal and scientific requirements
- Assessment of the readiness levels across relevant observing elements for each EOV separately.
- Coordination of existing infrastructure (observatories and technologies) to leverage its elements for multi-parameter observing across dimensions and disciplines
- Promotion and, to the extent possible, development of globally acceptable measurement procedures, data-flow standards, data quality control protocols, and data and information product development
The GOOS Biogeochemistry Panel will soon add the following tasks to its portfolio:
- Initial system-wide evaluation of the observing system aiding its design
- Development of requirement-driven observing targets for EOVs
- Development of metrics allowing the community to monitor the success-rate of reaching the targets
- Continuous monitoring of the observing system design, promoting new technologies and cross-platform and cross-discipline collaboration
The greatest value of all these efforts is in producing global and coherent data synthesis products of known quality, and in informing the society at large about local, regional and global patterns in various water properties and hence ecosystem dynamics. Development of such synthesis products allows us to:
- Address societal and scientific requirements driving the need for observations
- Assess the fitness-for-purpose of the observing system
- Dynamically modify the design of the observing system
- Understand long-term interactions between various elements of the ecosystem,
- Detect changes in ecosystem’s numerous functions
- Detect impacts of human-induced pressures on the ecosystem
Synthesis products developed to date: SOCAT, CARINA, PACIFICA and GLODAPv2 have dramatically increased our understanding of several critical phenomena including air-sea fluxes of carbon, ocean interior carbon storage, ocean acidification, net community and export production, and interior ocean circulation which allowed us to take the relevant actions listed above.
However, there are numerous other phenomena that we need a synthesized information on, such as extent of hypoxia, nutrients availability, eutrophication and pollution, organic carbon dynamics, and more. The ultimate goal of GOOS Biogeochemistry Panel is to be able to provide regular updates to the already existing and not-yet developed synthesis products and therefore answer the societal and scientific questions through a well coordinated, multidisciplinary global ocean observing system.