Climate change, sustainable development and coastal ocean information needs

Malone, Tom; Davidson, Margareth; DiGiacomo, Paul; Gonçalves, Emanuel; Knap, Anthony; Muelbert, José Henrique; Parslow, John; Sweijd, Neville; Yanagi, Tetsuo; Yap, Helen


Local expressions of climate change are threatening the capacity of coastal ecosystems to support goods and services valued by society on a global scale. As articulated in many international and national ocean policies, conventions and agreements, there is widespread agreement that adaptive, ecosystem-based approaches are needed to manage climate risks and to adapt to the impacts of climate change on our environment. Design and implementation of such approaches requires routine and continuous provision of data and information that enable regular assessments of the states of marine and estuarine ecosystems, changes in states and likely future states in terms of their capacity to support goods and services. The provision of these data and information is a major goal of the climate and coastal modules of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), the oceans and coastal component of the Global Earth Observing System, which is coming into being through an international effort led by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) to integrate, improve and build on existing monitoring and modelling capabilities. The objective is to establish sustained, integrated and interoperable approaches that efficiently link observations and models through data management and communications on national, regional and global scales. Initial requirements for the climate module have been completed and global implementation has begun. However, implementation of coastal GOOS has been slow and uneven geographically, especially in the coastal zones of developing countries and emerging economies. Challenges that must be addressed to move this process along more rapidly and effectively include (a) capacity building; (b) reaching international agreements that enable timely exchanges of data on the states and changing states of coastal ecosystems regionally and globally; (c) achieving international consensus on priorities for phased implementation of coastal GOOS strategic plans; (d) establishing mechanisms to transition advances in science and technology into operational modes as needed; (e) effecting regional and global coordination and collaboration among coastal nations and existing regional bodies with related goals and data requirements; and (f) coordinating the development of the climate and coastal modules of GOOS. Issues associated with these challenges are discussed and the current effort of the GOOS Scientific Steering Committee to document observing system requirements for the coastal ocean is described.

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