Full Doc

The Oceans in Earth’s Life-Support System: In support of humanity’s quest to meet our needs while safeguarding the Earth’s life-support system, on which the present and all future generations depend, the crucial role of the oceans in this system provides the overarching focus of the 3rd Blue Planet Symposium with the goal to detail the state of knowledge and the monitoring, forecasting and research needs.

Symposium Scope and Objectives

The 3rd Blue Planet Symposium will be unique in addressing emerging societal information needs. Climate change is happening now. Changes in the oceans are increasingly visible. Sea level rise is happening now. Investments need to be made to address the challenges associated with these changes. Science needs to provide sound guidance to decision makers so that they can make informed decisions on how to address the risks and utilize the opportunities these challenges come with. Therefore, the key focus of the symposium will be on meeting societal information needs resulting from the important role the oceans play in Earth’s life-support system and the challenge of minimizing the impacts of our activities on the oceans while utilizing the resources of the oceans to meet our needs. The symposium will address four specific subthemes:

  1. Sustainably using of ocean resources: Human wellbeing depends on a wide range of ocean resources and the economic activities that are based on using in the oceans in various ways are numerous. The impacts of these activities of the oceans need to be considered and approaches that meet our needs while safeguarding the functioning of the oceans in the Earth’s life-support system need to be developed.
  2. Threat from pollution, warming and acidification: The health of marine ecosystems and their productivity are exposed to threats from pollution, the warming of the oceans, and an increasing acidification. The current and future impacts of these threats on the marine biosphere need to be understood and ways to limit the threats need to be developed.
  3. The changing oceans: Climate change involves major changes in the oceans, including changes in ocean circulation and dynamic sea surface topography, a changing role in the global climate system, sea level rise, and a potentially ice-free Arctic ocean. These changes present new economic opportunities to utilize the oceans and they pose new environmental, social, and economic risks from local to global scales.
  4. Processes and life at the Interfaces with the oceans: The oceans are integrated in the global system of systems with many interdependencies between them and the land and the atmosphere. There are many potential cascading effects, leading from disturbances and changes in one system to large impacts in the other systems. Therefore, understanding the processes on the interfaces between oceans, land and atmosphere is crucial in order to take interdependencies into consideration and avoid as far as possible cascading effects.

The 3rd Blue Planet Symposium will provide the forum for a discussion of the science in these four subthemes and the research and monitoring needs resulting from the societal information needs. Identifying the “essential ocean variables” (EOVs) that need to be monitored in order to address the urgent scientific questions related to the societal challenges in the four subthemes is an important step towards an observing system as a basis to generate the knowledge needed by society. In a number of ocean science communities, sets of EOVs are agreed upon based on available capabilities and expertise. Equally important is a process that starts from the societal benefits and goals and identifies the space in which the EOVs sit, and the symposium will consider a road map towards such a process. Other questions to be addressed at the symposium include: Which of the EVs are measurable? Which of them could be measured if technology would evolve?

The 3rd Blue Planet Symposium also will be a unique opportunity to provide input from a range of communities to the further development of Blue Planet Initiative in the GEO Work Programme and to improve coordination between observational networks. It will be a platform for the participating communities to exchange information on their activities related to observing, monitoring, modeling, and forecasting of the oceans and to explore synergies and new opportunities for collaboration across community and disciplinary boundaries. The specific objectives of the symposium related to community development are to:

  • Review the status of Blue Planet activities in the ocean research and monitoring communities;
  • Explore cross-cutting issues and strengthen collaborations across groups and disciplines;
  • Ensure the coordination of the Blue Planet Initiative with relevant communities.


The symposium is expected to result in tenable outcomes relevant to the monitoring, analysis, and research activities in the participating communities. This is a working meeting with sufficient time for significant participation interactions. Specifically, it is expected that:

  • The Symposium Report will summarize the state-of-the-art related to the four subthemes and identify emerging information, research and monitoring needs;
  • There will be enhanced and new joint issue-based research activities;
  • The symposium will provide input to the present and future GEO Work Programmes;
  • Contributions will be made to the identification of Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs) and societal information needs related to the oceans;
  • Linkages with new communities and users will be developed.


During the first two days, the program will include sessions addressing the four subthemes of the symposium, that is,

  1. Sustainable use of ocean resources
  2. Threats from pollution, warming and acidification
  3. The changing oceans
  4. Processes and life at the Interfaces with the oceans

See the Scope page for more details on the subthemes.

The last day of the symposium will include parallel working sessions addressing the priority activities of the Blue Planet Initiative.



The detailed program will be made available here in July 2016. The overall schedule is available here.


Overview June 5-9, 2017

Time Activity
Monday, June 5, 2017
08:30-09:00 Registration
09:00-18:00 Pre-Symposium Workshops and Meetings, possible Steering Committee and/or Implementation Board Meetings
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
08:30-09:00 Registration
09:00-09:45 Opening Session
09:45-11:00 Session 1: Sustainably using of ocean resources
11:00-11:20 Coffee Break
11:00-13:00 Session 1 Continued
13:00-14:00 Lunch
14:00-15:30 Session 2: Threat from pollution, warming and acidification
15:30-16:00 Coffee Break
16:00-18:00 Session 2 continued
19:00-21:00 Symposium Dinner
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
09:00-11:00 Session 3: The changing oceans
11:00-11:20 Coffee Break
11:00-13:00 Session 3 Continued
13:00-14:00 Lunch
14:00-15:30 Session 4: Processes and life at the Interfaces with the oceans
15:30-16:00 Coffee Break
16:00-18:00 Session 4 continued
Thursday, June 8, 2017
09:00-11:00 Three parallel sessions on Blue Planet Priorities
11:00-11:20 Coffee Break
11:00-13:00 Three parallel sessions on Blue Planet Priorities
13:00-14:00 Lunch
14:00-15:30 Three parallel sessions on Blue Planet Priorities
16:00-18:00 Summary and Closing Session
Friday, June 9, 2017
08:30-09:00 Registration
09:00-18:00 Post-Symposium Workshops and Meetings, possible Steering Committee and/or Implementation Board Meetings



The Workshop is open to scientists, researchers, students and stakeholders engaged in monitoring, understanding and managing the oceans. Preference is for those actively engaged in the communities who are jointly organizing the event and those who would like to get engaged.


  • Submission of proposals for pre- and post-symposium events: tbd
  • Abstract Submission: tbd
  • Notification on Abstract Acceptance: tbd
  • Early Bird Registration: tbd
  • On-line Registration: tbd


Program Committee:

  • Blue Planet Initiative: Trevor Platt, Sophie Seeyave
  • Coastal Zone Community of Practice: Paul DiGiacomo, Hans-Peter Plag
  • Research Coordination Network “OceanObs”: Jay Pearlman
  • Group on Earth Observations: Douglas Cripe
  • GODAE-Oceanview: Paul DiGiacomo
  • IGBP-SCOR Integrated Marine Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research (IMBER): Eileen Hofmann
  • CSIRO: Andy Steven (2nd Blue Planet Symposium Chair)
  • GOOS: Tim Moltmann, Chair GOOS Regional Council, University of Tasmania
  • MBON: Samantha Simmons
  • CEOS: Paul DiGiacomo
  • IEEE OES: Jay Pearlman, Hans-Peter Plag

Organizing Committee:

  • Emily Smail, Blue Planet Coordinator, NOAA
  • Paul DiGiacomo
  • Jay Pearlman
  • Hans-Peter Plag
  • Jonathan Hodge
  • Sophie Seeyave


Support for the Symposium

Tiwah supports the Symposium by hosting and maintaining the GSTSS.

Technical Advice and Support for the Workshop


The local organizing committee for the Symposium is hosted by NOAA.


Abstract submission will open here in January 2017.


Registration will open here in January 2017. The registration fee will be kept as low as possible and will be more than anything else a commitment fee.


The 3rd Blue Planet Symposium will take place at a location on the West Coast of the United States.



 Travel Logistics

Getting to xxx: Information will be added here soon.

  • By Air:
  • By Train:

  • By Car:

Back to contents

 Climate and Weather

Information to be added.

Back to contents


Information to be added.

Back to contents

 Symposium Dinner

Information to be added.

Back to contents

 What to do and visit in xxxx?

Information to be added.

Back to contents


There are many hotels in the vicinity of the venue that can be booked through standard web services such as Hotels.com or Booking.com. An alternative is Air B&B.

Information on special group rates will be made available here in the near future.