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National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis

Project Description

A globally coordinated and sustained ocean observing system is urgently needed to systematically assess the status of the ocean's biodiversity and ecosystems and how these are responding to increasing resource use, including coastal development under the range of long-term climate change scenarios. A set of measurable biological characteristics or “biological essential ocean variables" have been identified by experts to aid global understanding of these responses and how they may provide the data that addresses policy seeking to manage or mitigate adverse impacts. NCEAS scientists will design a monitoring network based on the biological essential ocean variables that is sufficient to answer scientific questions on identified high priority global phenomena and respond to calls from global policy makers and managers for guidance. Through mapping the current spatial extent of observations for these essential variables, from microbes to whales and through coastal ecosystems to the deep sea, the scientists will identify how to capitalize on what is already being achieved and what remains to be done to develop a globally coordinated and sustained ocean observing system. Results will become part of the blueprint for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainability that aims to provide the science to help achieve Agenda 2030 and other critical international agreements and platforms that are related to climate change, biodiversity, and ecosystem services.

Working Group Participants

Principal Investigator(s)

Nicholas J. Bax, Daniel C. Dunn, Patricia D. Miloslavich

Project Dates

Start: January 1, 2019

End: December 31, 2019



Valerie Allain
The Pacific Community (SPC)
Sonia Dawn Batten
Marine Biological Association of the UK
Nicholas J. Bax
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
Zoe Bax
Mathieu Belbeoch
Joint Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM)
Lisandro Benedetti-Cecchi
University of Pisa
Anthony Bernard
South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB)
Robert Bristol
US Geological Survey (USGS) Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis
Pier Luigi Buttigieg
Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research
Gabrielle Canonico
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Leopoldo Cavaleri Gerhardinger
University of Sao Paulo
Rachel Cavanaugh
British Antarctic Survey
Tamara Davies
Birdlife International
J. Emmett Duffy
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Daniel C. Dunn
University of Queensland
Karen Evans
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
Alfredo Girón
University of California, San Diego
Heath Kelsey
University of Maryland
Olav Sigurd Kjesbu
Institute of Marine Research
Raphael M. Kudela
University of California, Santa Cruz
Patricia D. Miloslavich
University of Tasmania
Frank Edgar Muller-Karger
University of South Florida
David Obura
Coastal Oceans Research and Development Indian Ocean (CORDIO)
Lisa-Maria Rebelo
International Water Management Institution
Erin Satterthwaite
University of California, Davis
Elizabeth R. Selig
Center for Ocean Solutions
Craig Starger
Future Earth
Richard Stuart-Smith
University of Tasmania
Joshua Tewksbury
University of Washington
Simon Thrush
University of Auckland
Marjo Vierros
University of British Columbia
Tristan P Wellman
US Geological Survey (USGS)
Anna Zivian
Ocean Conservancy


  1. Journal Article / 2019

    A Global Plankton Diversity Monitoring Program

  2. Journal Article / 2019

    A Response to Scientific and Societal Needs for Marine Biological Observations

  3. Journal Article / 2019

    Global Observational Needs and Resources for Marine Biodiversity

  4. Journal Article / 2019

    A Roadmap for Using the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development in Support of Science, Policy, and Action

  5. Journal Article / 2019

    Pervasive human-driven decline of life on Earth points to the need for transformative change

  6. Journal Article / 2019

    Integrating Global Seagrass and Mangrove Ecosystem Observations

  7. Journal Article / 2019

    Toward a Coordinated Global Observing System for Seagrasses and Marine Macroalgae

  8. Journal Article / 2019

    Animal-Borne Telemetry: An Integral Component of the Ocean Observing Toolkit

  9. Journal Article / 2019

    Globally Consistent Quantitative Observations of Planktonic Ecosystems

  10. Journal Article / 2019

    Designing the Global Observing System for Marine Life

  11. Journal Article / 2019

    Keeping a Watch on Seaweeds: The Forests of the World’s Coasts

  12. Journal Article / 2019

    Delivering Sustained, Coordinated, and Integrated Observations of the Southern Ocean for Global Impact

  13. Journal Article / 2019

    Coral Reef Monitoring, Reef Assessment Technologies, and Ecosystem-Based Management

  14. Journal Article / 2019

    Future Ocean Observations to Connect Climate, Fisheries and Marine Ecosystems

  15. Journal Article / 2019

    What We Have Learned From the Framework for Ocean Observing: Evolution of the Global Ocean Observing System

  16. Journal Article / 2020

    100 Opportunities for More Inclusive Ocean Research: Cross-Disciplinary Research Questions for Sustainable Ocean Governance and Management

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