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The Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) was created in 1991 in response to the desire of many nations to improve understanding and management of the marine environment and to improve forecasts of climate change, thereby enabling more sustainable exploitation of marine resources, maintaining healthy ecosystems, improving safety of life and property at sea and along the coast, and providing more advanced warning of natural hazards like storms, storm surges, high waves, excessive rains associated with flooding, and excessive dryness leading to droughts and forest fires.

GOOS is sponsored by UN Agencies (the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, the World Meteorological Organization, and the United Nations Environment Programme, with help from the Food and Agriculture Organization) together with the International Council for Science. The GOOS is designed to provide descriptions of the present state of the sea and its contents, and forecasts of these for as far ahead as possible, and to underpin forecasts of changes in climate. It is not solely operational, but includes work to convert research understanding into operational tools. It is designed to provide products useful to a wide range of users.

Primary objectives of GOOS

  • to specify the marine observational data needed to meet the needs of the world community of users of the oceanic environment;
  • to develop and implement an international co-ordinated strategy for the gathering, acquisition and exchange of these data;
  • to facilitate the development of products and services based on the data, and widen their application in the use and protection of the marine environment;
  • to facilitate the means by which less-developed nations can increase their capacity to acquire and use marine data according to the GOOS framework;
  • to co-ordinate the ongoing operations of the GOOS and ensure its integration within wider global observational and environmental management strategies.

GOOS is being implemented through five overlapping phases

  1. planning, including design and technical definition;
  2. operational demonstrations and pilot experiments;
  3. incorporation of suitable existing observing and related activities and new activities that can be implemented now to constitute the GOOS Initial Observing System;
  4. gradual operational implementation of the 'permanent' or ongoing Global Ocean Observing System;
  5. continued assessment and improvement in individual aspects and in the entire system.

For more information, please contact:
The GOOS Project Office, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO,
1, Rue Miollis, 75732 Paris Cedex 15, France
telephone: (33 1), fax: (33 1)
e-mail: Keith Alverson, GOOS Project Office Director, k.alverson@unesco.org

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