Global monitoring of marine biology and ecosystems to support detection of ocean acidification

Chair: Ken Caldeira

P. Miloslavich (1,2)*, N. Bax (3), S. Simmons (4), W. Appeltans (5)

1 Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
2 Universidad Simon Bolivar, Caracas, Venezuela
3 Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
4 Marine Mammal Commission, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
5 Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, IOC Project Office for IODE, Oostende, Belgium

The Biology and Ecosystems Panel of GOOS aims to develop and coordinate a global monitoring program of Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs) that is globally relevant and driven by societal needs to facilitate scientifically based policy development and management on ocean and coastal resources. Monitoring EOVs will help predict how marine biodiversity and ecosystems will change in the future under increasing anthropogenic pressures.

To identify biological and ecosystem EOVs the Panel (1) identified societal drivers and pressures requiring sustained global ocean observations by analysing the goals and societal issues addressed by major international bodies/conventions, (2) assessed current state of ocean observation of biological and ecosystem variables through a survey to the major global and large-scale regional observing networks or programs, and (3) considered existing frameworks for ocean observation.

Main drivers were knowledge (science/data access), development (sustainable economic growth), conservation (biodiversity and ecosystems), sustainable use (biodiversity and resources), environmental quality (health), capacity building (technology transfer), food security, threat prevention and impact mitigation (to different pressures), management improvement (integrate ecosystem approach). The main pressures identified were climate change, ocean acidification, extreme weather events, overfishing/overexploitation, pollution/eutrophication, mining, solid wastes.
The EOVs proposed through this process are: phytoplankton biomass and productivity, incidence of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), zooplankton diversity, fish distribution and abundance, apex predator abundance and distribution, live coral cover, seagrass cover, mangrove cover, and macroalgal canopy cover. The variables identified with the highest level of readiness for implementation at a global scale where those related to zooplankton and coral reefs.

By facilitating the monitoring of EOVs globally, GOOS is providing a process that increases robustness for collecting biological information that is of direct application on acidification studies (e.g. coral reefs, calcareous plankton, coralline algae), and that may also be useful to help advance our understanding of these processes.