By Michel Gauthier Member, IOA Core Group
During OI'94 in Brighton U.K., in parallel with the IOA international conference and meetings, a session was held with the theme "Global Ocean". During that session several presentations were dedicated to the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) programme. The GOOS programme was proposed in 1990 under the aegis of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC). Its ultimate goal is to forecast marine meteorological events, anticipate evolution of marine coastal processes and the fate of marine pollutants, understand the relationship between the marine environment and living resources behaviour, and participate in increasing the knowledge about the role of the ocean on the climate's long term evolution.
During the last several decades, scientific and technological progress has provided oceanographers with the capacity to decipher the role of the oceans in the long term evolution of our planet's ecosystem. The circulation of ocean water masses, the rate of exchange with the atmosphere, and the incoming fluxes from land are some of the main processes to be understood and monitored to satisfy GOOS programme needs in the basic sciences.
To reach the progrmme's ultimate objectives, it will be necessary to develop and maintain sophisticated networks of new tools. These include new sensors in space and in the sea, as well as reliable data transmission links for the continuous monitoring of the data and powerful computers with simulation models enabling reliable forecasts and associated services.
For GOOS promoters the deep ocean water's circulation is a determining factor in the thermal balance between the tropical and polar regions and a key component in the mechanism of energy exchange between our planet and the outer space. It is also of prime importance in the fate of matter and chemicals in the ocean.
For IOA's purpose, Deep Ocean Water (DOW) is not only an important vector for heat transfer but is mainly considered as a resource of a new raw material, i.e. a huge reservoir of cold, rich and clean water which can be used in various processes to produce energy and fresh water or within which to grow marine organisms.
For this reason, any research and development action such as those supported by GOOS and aimed towards a better understanding of the nature and the fate of DOW, is of major scientific interest for IOA.
GOOS is a very ambitious programme that will require a concerted effort from the world's oceanographic community. Because the Observation System has to be global, its implementation will require fostering the participation of most of the nations with maritime coastlines, including the developing countries of the Pacific region that are sometimes very small in land area yet have huge EEZs.
GOOS interest was highlighted during the UNCED Rio Conference and now the GOOS concept has been endorsed by WMO (World Meteorological Organization) and also UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme). GOOS could reveal a great political opportunity to encourage a large international effort for information exchange and technical cooperation in the marine field.
The points addressed here suggest that for scientific technical and also strategic reasons it is recommended that IOA undertakes a careful and detailed review of IOA's potential common interest with the GOOS programme and explores the potential of cooperative or coordinated actions