Ocean Observing System Report Card 2020

GOOS Observations Coordination Group launches a new Ocean Observing System Report Card and introduces the rebranding of OceanOPS (previously JCOMMOPS) along with its first-ever 5-year Strategic Plan (2021-2025), phased with the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (“Ocean Decade”).

The 2020 Ocean Observing System Report Card provides an update on the status of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), including the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on ocean observations, the advances in observing measurements and initiatives, and the connection with vital services resulting from the observations.

Motivated by the increasing importance of ocean knowledge for sustainable development as well as addressing climate-related trends, the Report Card highlights the value and need for sustained and integrated met-ocean observations, essential to predict the consequences of ocean and climate change, to design mitigation strategies and guide adaptation.

“We need to strengthen and fill the geographical and resource gaps in the global ocean observing system to meet the growing demand for weather and ocean services and forecast products, multi-hazard early warning systems, and climate and ocean health applications. There is also a need to support new technologies and the development of autonomous observing instruments”, says Dr. Anthony Rea, Director of infrastructure at the World Meteorological Organization.

In recognition of the fundamental importance of ocean observations to the success of the Ocean Decade, Dr. Albert Fischer, Head of Ocean Observations and Services Section at the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, says, “one of the Decade Challenges is to ensure a sustainable ocean observing system that delivers timely data and information accessible to all users on the state of the ocean, across all ocean basins”.

In the current global Covid-19 pandemic, several ocean observing systems and ocean monitoring operations have been impacted, as restrictions on research vessel operations hinders the repair and replacement of measuring equipment. 

Months on from the initial pandemic impacts and with research vessel operations far from returning to normal, GOOS has growing concern for parts of the global system. The global pandemic has shown that international cooperation and operational flexibility, such as contracting commercial vessels and using ships of opportunity, are crucial to sustain and maintain the global ocean observation system at sea.

“As the global Covid-19 pandemic took hold, some of the ocean observing networks were impacted in surprising ways highlighting both strengths and weaknesses in the global met-ocean observing system; the pandemic has also catalyzed creativity to maintain the in situ observations and may accelerate our use of autonomous instruments and new approaches in the future”, says Dr. David Legler, Chair of the GOOS Observations Coordination Group (OCG).

Recently commercial shipping and private initiatives are getting more involved in cost effective and innovative met-ocean data collection projects, in support of ocean observations. “We need a future where commercial, research, and privately owned vessels make multivariate observations, using a combination of automated and human-observed measurements, and where all data and metadata will be available to benefit users of marine information” reports the Report Card.

The 2020 Report Card also highlights the latest remarkable advances in animal-based measurements; providing data in important regions that are currently poorly covered by traditional observing platforms, greatly enhancing studies of climate variability and the delivery of information for climate prediction at global and regional scales.

The Ocean Observing System Report Card was prepared by the GOOS Observations Coordination Group together with OceanOPS.

New 5-year Strategic Plan for OceanOPS, the ocean observing system monitoring and coordination Centre

The Plan articulates five strategic goals, the objectives, and challenges to realize the vision for OceanOPS – to provide vital services in monitoring, coordinating, and integrating ocean data and metadata, across an expanding network of global oceanographic and marine meteorological observing and service communities in support of improved services and capabilities.

OceanOPS core functions are to monitor and improve the performance of the Global Ocean Observing System, lead metadata harmonization, support and enhance operations, and enable new data streams. OceanOPS also addresses the strategic earth-system prediction goal of WMO by enhancing ocean data and metadata flow.

“On the strength of our experience, of our infrastructure built slowly and strategically, and following up a review process, we shaped a clear 5-year Strategic Plan, together with our stakeholders, to project our activities into the Ocean Decade. Rebranded, with a new name that both preserves the JCOMM Observing Programme Support Centre legacy and at the same time is a clearer expression of our role to the larger community, we are now rounding a new cape. We will keep focusing our eye (OPS in Greek mythology) on the GOOS and cultivate the integrated concept in all our actions“, says Mathieu Belbéoch, OceanOPS Lead.

The Ocean Observing System Report Card is available at: 

The OceanOPS 5-year Strategic Plan (2021-2025) is available at: 

For more information, please contact:

To top