UN Decade of Ocean Science

Global Oceans:

Contributions to the UN Decade of Ocean Science


The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development provides a rare opportunity to focus international efforts at the science-policy interface to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health and to generate the scientific knowledge, infrastructure, and global partnerships needed to realize the sustainable development goals of the 2030 Agenda. The UN Decade process will be inviting contributions from the international science community to build a portfolio of activities in support of the Decade agenda.


The UN Decade of Ocean Science Implementation Plan Summary document (V2.0) is available here (English version). 


The scientific and societal scope of the four major projects that Global Oceans is launching each aligns with the criteria for designation as a UN Decade of Ocean Science Programme as outlined in the UN Decade Implementation Plan:


"A Decade Programme is typically global or regional in scale and will contribute to the achievement of one or more of the Ocean Decade Challenges. It is long-term, multi-year, interdisciplinary and multinational. A programme will consist of component projects, and potentially enabling activities."  


Global Oceans will be requesting endorsement for each of these projects as a UN Decade Programme in response to Calls for Actions that will be periodically announced by the Decade Coordination Unit. Contributions toward advancing specific UN Decade Challenges that are envisioned for these projects are indicated in Figures 1 to 4. 


Each of these projects will be uniquely enabled by the utilization of MARVs, which will demonstrate throughout the decade that an expanded scientific human presence across the world’s oceans can be routinely and economically deployed to meet the global challenges of ocean science and capacity development, without the need for massive capital expenditures for dedicated scientific vessel fleets.  


The project summaries below focus on how each contributes to the goals of the UN Decade. More about each project can be explored on our website and in supplemental materials and prospectus as they become available. 


Global Seamounts Project (GSP)


The GSP is an internationally collaborative, multi-year project to comprehensively survey 20 deep-sea seamounts in three ocean basins (Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans); to generate the most comprehensive, multidisciplinary, standardized datasets of these systems ever undertaken; and to integrate these data with a parallel effort to develop a series of new advanced computational models of complex ecosystem function for seamounts that can explore the behavior and resilience of these systems under conditions of multiple stressors.


This project will create a new set of ecosystem modeling tools for governments, resource managers, policy makers, and intergovernmental bodies that will better enable science-based policies for resource management, conservation, and climate change mitigation. Data generated by the project will be open-access and will be archived with the participation of GSP project partner, the International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) at IOC/UNESCO.


The GSP is also designed as an important platform for training the next generation of ocean scientists and biophysical modelers and will prioritize diverse participation and leadership training for students, postdocs, early career scientists, women, and other underrepresented communities, especially from developing regions.


SASx Arctic Baseline Project 


The SASx Arctic Baseline Project is an internationally collaborative, decadal project (2021-2030) proposed by Global Oceans to replicate and extend a wide range of core environmental parameters that will be measured by the Synoptic Arctic Survey (SAS) initiative. The SAS will be conducted principally in 2021 as a single-year “snapshot” of the Arctic Ocean, to be carried out by nearly a dozen national research icebreakers and supported by the international scientific community. 


The SASx project – for E(x)tending the Synoptic Arctic Survey - proposes to continue this effort on an annual basis, including summer and winter transects, each year through 2030 through the use of chartered commercial sector icebreaking vessels mobilized with modular laboratories, workshops, and equipment, and adhering to the methodological protocols established for the original SAS data. 


Extending the SAS datasets with high-resolution,  multi-year time-series measurements in the Arctic Ocean will inform  resource management and regulatory policy and enable development of  improved climate and ecosystem models of the Arctic, which today are  significantly constrained by the lack of Arctic data resolution. 


Global Oceans’ ability to expand Arctic research  vessel capacity through the adaptive scientific mobilization  of commercial icebreaking vessels on dedicated project cruises addresses two important challenges  for Arctic science from a ship perspective: 1) conducting regular,  repeat transects to see how the system evolves; and 2) to push out of the traditional summer research season into the winter season for  observations.


SASx will be an internationally collaborative project, and will be designed to support participation and leadership training for students, postdocs, early career scientists, women, and indigenous communities internationally, especially from developing regions and institutions.


Atmospheric Instrumentation Suite (AIS) 


The AIS project is a collaboration between Global Oceans and Argonne National Laboratory in the US to design, fund, build, and operate a new multi-modular atmospheric observatory for deployment on scientific vessels and dedicated to conducting atmospheric  measurements over the world’s oceans. Atmospheric measurements over the ocean are especially constrained compared with similar land-based measurements and represent significant data gaps, especially in the Arctic, within global climate models. 


Funding for the AIS facility is being sought from the philanthropic community of major foundations, individuals, and corporate donors. The facility will be owned by an independent trust and operated under contract by Global Oceans and Argonne National Laboratory as an independent, nongovernmental, nonprofit, open-data facility on behalf of the international science community.


Scientific advisors and user communities for the AIS will be international, diverse, and representative in scope from nations and institutions across the global North and South. Initial priorities for the first decade of operation is being proposed for deployments in the Arctic Ocean in support of more accurate climate models; and in the Indo-Pacific region in support of new efforts to model poorly understood Asian Monsoon systems with greater accuracy.


Indo-Pacific Collaborative


The Indo-Pacific Collaborative is a new initiative launched by Global Oceans to build collaborative partnerships among  emerging ocean science communities and institutions in the Indo-Pacific region. The goal of the project is to organize and host regional institutional consortia that can leverage access to world-class research vessels and scientific equipment through the use of MARVs – mobilized within the region, more flexibly, at lower cost, and without significant capital investments in infrastructure.


The project is designed to enable and empower a regional, stakeholder-driven scientific agenda by providing greater access to ship time for nationally-determined research, education, and technical training. We are developing approaches that will explore opportunities for regional cost sharing, resource sharing, and cost amortization across multiple expeditions.


We view this project as an enabling mechanism that can support a wide range of UN Decade projects, activities, and contributions within the Indo-Pacific and that will better support proposals from regional scientists. We also hope that as this “regional consortia”-based approach for capacity expansion develops successfully in the Indo-Pacific, that we can expand this model to communities in West Africa to support work in the eastern Atlantic Ocean; and among Small Island Developing States (SIDS), where chronic resource constraints for indiginous seagoing research and training in these expansive and remote areas are significant. 


We hope to explore with the Decade Coordination Unit how best to deploy and support the Indo-Pacific Collaborative project in the context of the UN Decade for Ocean Science.

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