NOAA's contributions to the global ocean observing system for climate

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Thursday, 2 February 2006: 11:00 AM
NOAA's contributions to the global ocean observing system for climate
A411 (Georgia World Congress Center)
Diane M. Stanitski, Shippensburg University, Shippensburg, PA; and M. Johnson

Over the past decade the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has worked with national and international partners to begin building a sustained global ocean observing system for climate, focusing first on the tropical Pacific, and expanding to the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans. It is now well understood that documenting and forecasting climate will require continuous measurements from space along with instrumenting the entire global ocean. The present international effort is about 51% of what will ultimately be needed for the global system. NOAA presently maintains approximately 60% of the in situ networks and 30% of the space components and is committed to the goal of providing at least 50% of the composite system over the long term. NOAA's contribution demonstrates to the world community that it is willing to play a leadership role in achieving global coverage of the ocean networks, and is committed to sustained operations.

NOAA's Strategic Plan addresses climate strategies to improve the quality and quantity of climate observations, analysis, interpretation, and archiving by maintaining a consistent climate record and by improving our ability to determine why changes are taking place. The Annual Guidance Memorandum indicates that the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) must be developed as a major component of the U.S. contribution to the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).

The existing foundation is comprised of thirteen complementary in situ, space based, data and assimilation subsystems including the 1) Global Tide Gauge Network; 2) Global Surface Drifting Buoy Array; 3) Global Ships of Opportunity Network; 4) Tropical Moored Buoy Network; 5) Argo Profiling Float Array; 6) Ocean Reference Stations; 7) Coastal Moorings; 8) Ocean Carbon Monitoring Network; 9) Arctic Observing System; 10) Dedicated Ship Operations; 11) Satellites for Sea Surface Temperature, Sea Surface Height, Surface Vector Winds, Sea Ice, and Ocean Color; 12) Data and Assimilation Systems and their products, and; 13) System Management and Product Delivery to focus program resources on answering the nation's highest priority questions.

Interdisciplinary requirements have necessitated the development of close working relationships between oceanographers and marine meteorologists, and the development of a “systems approach” to international coordination of national implementation efforts. A global observing system by definition crosses international boundaries with the potential for both benefits and responsibilities to be shared by many nations. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) formed the Joint WMO/IOC Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM) to provide an intergovernmental framework for global system planning and coordination.

The next steps for NOAA and the international community include expansion of the existing global networks and extension of some networks into the polar regions and Indian Ocean. Partnerships are critical and all of NOAA's contributions to the international system are managed in cooperation with JCOMM. The Office of Climate Observation promotes the utilization of platform and data infrastructure for several objectives, including understanding the Earth's climate system, and documenting sea level change and the global carbon and water cycles. Although the focus of the Office of Climate Observation is to support projects that deploy autonomous in situ platforms, the overall objective is to cultivate a systems approach to effective international organization of complementary in situ, satellite, data, and modeling components of climate observation.