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This article is part of the Research Topic

Oceanobs19: An Ocean of Opportunity

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Front. Mar. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00241

Global Observational Needs in the Deep Ocean

  • 1Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, United States
  • 2National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton, United Kingdom
  • 3University of Texas at Austin, United States
  • 4University of Hawaii at Manoa, United States
  • 5Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), Germany
  • 6University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), United States
  • 7Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada
  • 8University of Glasgow, United Kingdom
  • 9National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), United States
  • 10Louisiana State University, United States
  • 11University of Technology Sydney, Australia
  • 12Universidade dos Açores, Portugal
  • 13Global Marine and Polar Programme, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), United Kingdom
  • 14Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Japan
  • 15University of Washington, United States
  • 16Sorbonne Universités, France
  • 17University of California, San Diego, United States
  • 18Deakin University, Australia
  • 19University of Western Australia, Australia
  • 20National Oceanography Centre, United Kingdom
  • 21Université de Genève, Switzerland
  • 22University of Hawaii, United States
  • 23Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
  • 24National Institute of Ocean Technology, India
  • 25Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, United States

The deep ocean below 200 m water depth is the least observed, but largest habitat on our planet by volume and area. Over 150 years of exploration has revealed that this dynamic system provides critical climate regulation, houses a wealth of energy, mineral, and biological resources, and represents a vast repository of biological diversity. A long history of deep-ocean exploration and observation led to the initial concept for the Deep-Ocean Observing Strategy (DOOS), under the auspices of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS). Here we discuss the scientific need for globally integrated deep-ocean observing, its status, and the key scientific questions and societal mandates driving observing requirements over the next decade. We consider the Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs) needed to address deep-ocean challenges within the physical, biogeochemical, and biological/ecosystem sciences according to the Framework for Ocean Observing (FOO), and map these onto scientific questions. Opportunities for new and expanded synergies among deep-ocean stakeholders are discussed, including academic-industry partnerships with the oil and gas, mining, cable and fishing industries, the ocean exploration and mapping community, and biodiversity conservation initiatives. Future deep-ocean observing will benefit from the greater integration across traditional disciplines and sectors, achieved through demonstration projects and facilitated reuse and repurposing of existing deep-sea data efforts. We highlight examples of existing and emerging deep-sea methods and technologies, noting key challenges associated with data volume, preservation, standardization, and accessibility. Emerging technologies relevant to deep-ocean sustainability and the blue economy include novel genomics approaches, imaging technologies, and ultra-deep hydrographic measurements. Capacity building will be necessary to integrate capabilities into programs and projects at a global scale. Progress can be facilitated by Open Science and Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable (FAIR) data principles and converge on agreed to data standards, practices, vocabularies, and registries. We envision expansion of the deep-ocean observing community to embrace the participation of academia, industry, NGOs, national governments, international governmental organizations, and the public at large in order to unlock critical knowledge contained in the deep ocean over coming decades, and to realize the mutual benefits of thoughtful deep-ocean observing for all elements of a sustainable ocean.

Keywords: deep sea, Ocean observation, blue economy, Essential Ocean Variables (EOV), Ocean sensors

Received: 10 Oct 2018; Accepted: 18 Apr 2019.

Edited by:

Frank E. Muller-Karger, College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, United States

Reviewed by:

Fabien Roquet, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Toste Tanhua, GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany  

Copyright: © 2019 Levin, Bett, Gates, Heimbach, Howe, Janssen, McCurdy, Ruhl, Snelgrove, Stocks, Bailey, Baumann-Pickering, Beaverson, Benfield, Booth, Carreiro-Silva, Colaço, Eblé, Fowler, Gjerde, Jones, Katsumata, Kelley, Nadine, Leonardi, Lejzerowicz, Macreadie, McLean, Meitz, Morato, Netburn, Pawlowski, Smith, Sun, Uchida, Vardaro, Venkatesan and Weller. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Lisa A. Levin, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, La Jolla, 92093-0218, California, United States,