Development of the Observing Requirements for Terrestrial Climate
Development of the Ocean Climate Observing Requirements for GOOS and GCOS
This page describes the development of the GOOS observing plan for climate by the scientific groups charged with its design. The page also contains references to the relevant reports and links where possible. Information on this page has for the most part been abstracted from various GOOS reports.
Observations for the GOOS Climate Module
The GOOS Observing Plan was developed initially by the Ocean Observing System Development Panel (OOSDP). Since the OOSDP completed its work further development of the plan is the responsibility of the Ocean Observing Panel for Climate (OOPC). The following paragraphs describe the contributions of the two bodies.
In the late 1980's, as activity in the Trropical Ocean Global Atmosphere Programme (TOGA) was reaching its peak and the observational program of the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) was beginning, the then prime scientific bodies for ocean and climate research, the Committee on Climate Changes and the Ocean (CCCO) and the Joint Scientific Committee (JSC) of the World Climate Research Program joined forces to create the Ocean Observing System Development Panel (OOSDP). The OOSDP was given the task of formulating a "Conceptual design of a long-term, systematic observing system to monitor, describe, and understand the physical and biogeochemical processes that determine ocean circulation and the effects of the ocean on seasonal to decadal climate changes and to provide the observations needed for climate predictions."
The physics and dynamics of ocean circulation are the dominant theme, but there is also scope to consider processes associated with the carbon cycle and its influence on climate. In addition to climate observations, this plan includes some consideration of other physical and dynamical observations where the requirement is obvious and relevant to the implementation mechanisms.
The OOSDP plan that emerged in 1995 (OOSDP 1995) contained a comprehensive review of the scientific issues and a set of specific recommendations for implementation of the observing system. Smith et al (1995) and Nowlin et al. (1996) contain shorter synopses. The plan contained four primary goals. The first focussed on exchanges with other components of the climate system, and in particular on the surface fields and surface fluxes which help determine the variability of the coupled ocean-atmosphere system. The 5 sub-goals were estimation of (i) sea surface temperature (SST) and sea surface salinity (SSS), (ii) surface wind stress, (iii) surface fluxes of heat and water, (iv) surface sources and sinks of carbon, and (v) the extent, concentration, volume and motion of sea ice.
The second goal focussed on seasonal-to-interannual variability and, in particular on the upper ocean (that part which varied on these time scales). This goal was in turn broken into three sub-goals; (i) monitoring and analysis of monthly upper ocean temperature and salinity changes; (ii) the provision of data for the initialization of models and prediction of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation; and (iii) the provision of data outside the Pacific for monitoring and initialization of models of seasonal to interannual climate variations.
The third goal concentrated on longer time scales (e.g., climate change) and, inevitably, involved observations of the deep ocean. The 3 goals were (i) inventories of heat, fresh water, and carbon on large space- and time-scales; (ii) description of the ocean circulation and transport of these quantities; and (iii) measurement of long-term sea level changes.
The final goal concerned the processing and management of these data streams, including (i) climatologies (means and variances), (ii) information management, and (iii) modeling and assimilation systems.
The present specifications for the GOOS observations are derived for the most part from the OOSDP (1995) report and several subsequent publications (Smith et al. 1995; Nowlin et al. 1996), but consideration has also been given to re-evaluations by the Ocean Observations Panel for Climate. These considerations are described in the meeting reports (OOPC, 1996, 1998) and in reports of various activities the OOPC has been associated with.