The ability to observe and forecast change in the coastal and ocean environment on local, regional, and global scales is critical to making informed decisions that will protect human life and ecosystem integrity. Currently there are a multitude of independent national and international marine, terrestrial, and atmospheric observing and monitoring systems that operate in the open ocean and coastal zone. The Strategic Plan for the U.S. Integrated Earth Observation System (IEOS) seeks to “enable a healthy public, economy, and planet through an integrated, comprehensive, and sustained Earth observation system.” This national Strategy provides the national mechanism to implement the Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS), and underscores the need to integrate observing systems across the land-coast-ocean-atmosphere continuum. The Global Ocean Observing System’s coastal program, a component of GEOSS, helps to establish a coastal observing system that provides data and information required to mitigate and manage the impacts of natural hazards, climate change, and human activities on coastal systems and their capacity to provide goods and services to society.
The IEOS strategy underscores that “because no comprehensive and integrated strategy for communicating all the current data exists, enhanced data management is highlighted as both an overarching need and a critical first near-term action.”
Effective data integration is essential: e.g., a common analysis framework to integrate atmospheric, terrestrial, and oceanic data obtained from both in situ and space-based assets. A common data processing, archiving, and access protocol is required to achieve effective integration of data. In addition, the capacity for user-friendly, automated and remote sensing must be established. Finally, there is a necessity to establish an intergovernmental coordination and technical support mechanism to enable data integration – the core of an integrated global coastal observing system. It is also important to recognize that if operational monitoring is to happen on a global scale, there must be efforts to build capacity in all coastal countries, particularly in developing nations. Education and training, knowledge and technology transfer, and capacity building need to be enhanced to address this need.
Without implementation of a comprehensive, interoperable, multi-purpose ocean observing system to provide routine, continuous, reliable data and information, the international community will not be able to realize the nine societal benefits that comprise the benefits of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems that the President endorsed in the Ocean Action Plan: improve weather forecasting; reduce loss of life and property from disasters; protect and monitor our ocean resources; understand, assess, predict mitigate and adapt to climate variability and change; support sustainable agriculture and forestry, and combat land degradation; understand the effect of environmental factors on human health and well-being; develop the capacity to make ecologicl forecasts; protect and monitor water resources; and monitor and manage energy resources.
NOS will inform and support better decision-making for coastal and ocean management through improved access to coordinated, comprehensive, and sustained earth observations and information