Marine ecosystems are under threat. Human well-being is connected to ocean ecosystem services, yet these ecosystems are under-observed and threatened from multiple stressors, including impacts due to climate change and human activities such as pollution and over-fishing. Scientific information can influence decision points in policy making. However, without access to relevant and useful marine data, it is increasingly difficult for policy makers to make informed management decisions for the protection and sustainable use of the marine environment. Decisions about human behaviour and global environmental governance will continue in the absence of information.
The challenge for the Ocean Ecosystems component of GEOWOW was to help link the interface between science and policy, in a domain where marine data is either lacking or difficult to locate, and where multiple users seek relevant marine information. The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO along with partners have improved access to, use of, and interoperability between existing and new marine data, through strengthening their discovery within the GEOSS Common Infrastructure and by testing the data exploitation technology, based on Cloud computing, proposed by GEOWOW. This work has supported both the Ecosystems SBA and the new GEO Task Blue Planet, which promotes marine monitoring and sustained observations for the purpose of using data to benefit societal issues.
In collaboration with the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) Transboundary Waters Assessment Programme (TWAP),
the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS),
GEOWOW has brought together new marine ecosystem information in the form of ecosystem Essential Ocean Variables (eEOVs),
i.e. key variables that are considered essential to monitor ocean ecosystem changes, especially induced by anthropogenic
climate change and other human impacts.
These have been analysed to create indicators of marine change. Some of he new eEOV data and indicators are already available on the new One Shared Ocean web portal and have been exposed to the GCI where they are discoverable and available for access by anyone wishing to use them.
One Shared Ocean, hosted by the IOC-UNESCO International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE), will provide a focal access point for ocean scientists and policy makers to retrieve and share data as necessary, especially with more eEOV data and marine indicators being uploaded continually. This is an important contribution to the process of sustainably managing the ocean environment and marine ecosystems now and into the future.