06.04.2018 - Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

Experts propose method to monitor marine ecosystem health

It is important to closely monitor how climate change and our increasing use of the oceans are affecting marine resources and ecosystems.

A new Global Change Biology paper identifies “biological essential ocean variables” that can be measured to provide key information to help effectively mitigate or manage the detrimental effects we may be having on the world’s ocean. These variables may help simplify communication among stakeholders around the globe and galvanize support for implementing a valuable global observing system.

The goal of the Global Change Biology paper is to identify biological essential ocean variables that, when implemented through the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), will provide quality data on global changes in marine resources and ecosystems in response to society’s needs.

“We need robust, sustained, and coordinated observations focused on specific measurements to assess changes in marine ecosystems. This will help meet the requirements of the Sustainable Development Goals and other critical international agreements and platforms that are related to climate change, biodiversity, and ecosystem services,” said lead author Dr. Patricia Miloslavich, of the University of Tasmania in Australia and the Universidad Simón Bolívar in Venezuela.

One of the main global programmes of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, the Global Ocean Observing System, is a collaborative system of sustained observations and a standard-setting programme that interfaces with data management and the generation of oceanographic products and services.

“Essential Ocean Variables help us communicate about the importance of sustained observations to meet our collective commitments to each other,” highlighted Albert Fischer, Chief of the GOOS Secretariat and Head of Ocean Observations and Services at UNESCO’s IOC. "We identify what is essential as a combination of the measurements that are of greatest importance to society, combined with the feasibility of global measurement."

UNESCO’s IOC collaborates with dozens of international programmes and organizations to implement global scale sustained ocean observations and deliver the products and services that ensure the wellbeing of humans and ecosystems alike.

For more information, please contact:

Albert Fischer (a.fischer(at)unesco.org)


This article has been adapted from the press release “Experts propose method to monitor ocean health”, published by Wiley on 5 April 2018.

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