Measurements in the real world: Development of the Global ocean acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON)

Chair: Thomas Trull

Phil Williamson (1)*, Libby Jewett (2), Jan Newton (3)

1 Natural Environment Research Council & University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK
2 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Silver Spring, MD 20910, United States
3 University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98105-6698, United States

Many marine organisms respond strongly to experimental changes in carbonate chemistry considered likely in future, based on increasing atmospheric CO2. But how relevant to natural conditions are the experimental controls (usually based on pH or saturate state relating to 350-400 ppm CO2), and how robust are models in simulating real-world variability and trends? To address those key issues, measurements are not only needed of changing water chemistry but also its main drivers (biological as well as physico-chemical), with such data covering the full range of marine environments, from the seafloor to the sea surface, from coastal waters to open ocean, and from the tropics to the poles.

The Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON) was developed to help stimulate and coordinate the worldwide collection, collation and sharing of high quality measurements of OA-relevant parameters, thereby improving our understanding of OA conditions and ecosystem responses. Network structure is provided by the GOA-ON website (; publications (e.g. GOA-ON Requirements and Governance Plan; Newton et al 2014) and meetings (including 3rd Workshop; Hobart 8-10 May 2016). Such activities are guided by an Executive Council, and a wide range of international and national sponsors (including OA-ICC of IAEA; IOCCP, GOOS and IOC of UNESCO; and NOAA).

GOA-ON is a young network, established in 2013. It has, however, already been influential in improving national OA capability and assisting international policy development (e.g. through the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and decisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity). GOA-ON has also focussed scientific attention on biological indicators of OA and regional syntheses of OA observations.

GOA-ON is an international network that provides crucial linkage between academic researchers and those involved in marine environmental monitoring, closely working with complementary activities. Much has already been achieved, yet the main outcomes are in the future.