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Front. Mar. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00450

Synergies in Operational Oceanography: The Intrinsic Need for Sustained Ocean Observations

  • 1Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canada
  • 2Florida State University, United States
  • 3Indian Institute of Science (IISc), India
  • 4Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO), Canada
  • 5Environment and Climate Change Canada, Canada
  • 6National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center, China
  • 7UMR5566 Laboratoire d'études en géophysique et océanographie spatiales (LEGOS), France
  • 8University of Miami, United States
  • 9Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), France
  • 10Instituto de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento, Universidade do Vale do Paraíba, Brazil
  • 11University of California, Santa Cruz, United States
  • 12Met Office, United Kingdom
  • 13University of Liège, Belgium
  • 14Bureau of Meteorology (Australia), Australia

Operational oceanography can be described as the provision of routine oceanographic information needed for decision-making purposes. It is dependent upon sustained research and development through the end-to-end framework of an operational service, from observation collection to delivery mechanisms. The core components of operational oceanographic systems are a multi-platform observation network, a data management system, a data assimilative prediction system, and a dissemination/accessibility system. These are interdependent, necessitating communication and exchange between them, and together provide the mechanism through which a clear picture of ocean conditions, in the past, present, and future, can be seen. Ocean observations play a critical role in all aspects of operational oceanography, not only for assimilation but as part of the research cycle, and for verification and validation of products. Data assimilative prediction systems are advancing at a fast pace, in tandem with improved science and the growth in computing power. To make best use of the system capability these advances would be matched by equivalent advances in operational observation coverage. This synergy between the prediction and observation systems underpins the quality of products available to stakeholders, and justifies the need for sustained ocean observations.
In this white paper, the components of an operational oceanographic system are described, highlighting the critical role of ocean observations, and how the operational systems will evolve over the next decade to improve the characterization of ocean conditions, including at finer spatial and temporal scales.

Keywords: Ocean prediction, Data assimilation (DA), Verification & validation, dissemination, Observations, model intercomparison, Model skill assessment

Received: 20 Dec 2018; Accepted: 05 Jul 2019.

Edited by:

Hans Burchard, Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research (LG), Germany

Reviewed by:

Jacopo Chiggiato, Italian National Research Council (CNR), Italy
Bjarne Büchmann, Other, Denmark  

Copyright: © 2019 Davidson, Chassignet, Vinayachandran, Lu, Smith, Zhu, Wang, Liu, De Mey-Frémaux, Kourafalou, Hernandez, Moore, Siddorn, Martin, Alvera-Azcárate and Brassington. 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. Fraser J. Davidson, Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, St. John's, Canada,
Dr. Matthew J. Martin, Met Office, Exeter, EX1 3PB, Devon, United Kingdom,