Scope Full

Symposium Infos

Relevant Links and Documents


  • [October 15, 2015] 3rd Blue Planet Symposium in 2017: The 3rd Blue Planet Symposium will take place on June 6-8, 2017 in the USA. It is jointly organized by the GEO Blue Planet Initiative (GBPI), the Coastal Zone Community of Practice (CZCP), and the Research Coordination Network &ldqo;OceanObs” (RCN). The location will be on the West Coast of the US. There will be the opportunity to organize pre- and post-symposium events.

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.

Blue Planet Initiative

The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) has acknowledged the importance of the oceans in its Work Plan Task SB-01: “Oceans and Society; Blue Planet,” which was introduced in 2011. In the Draft Post-2015 GEO Work Programme prepared for acceptance by the GEO Plenary in November 2015, the oceans are addressed in the GEO Blue Planet Initiative (BPI). Both the former Task and the new Initiative comprehensively consider the research and infrastructure needs for monitoring of the physical, chemical and biological ocean systems, the development of forecasting capabilities, the societal information needs related to the open ocean and the interface between land and oceans. Ultimately, the development of services meeting the information needs of societal stakeholders and capacity building to better support decision making related to oceans are both the near-term and long-term objectives. The GEO Coastal Zone Community of Practice (CZCP) supports the BPI particularly with respect to the development of services for the coastal zone. The NSF-funded Research Coordination Network “OceanObs” focuses on issues related to research and development of ocean observation techniques and methodologies.

The Blue Planet Task has organized two symposiums in 2012 and 2015 in Brazil and Australia, respectively. These events have been crucial in bringing together a global, interdisciplinary research community engaged in the use of Earth observations and models to deepen the understanding of the oceans, to extend the monitoring essential ocean variables including those that are linked to issues of societal relevance, to improve predictive capabilities, and to provide societally relevant information on the oceans. The Blue Planet community has engaged with other scientific communities addressing ocean-related issues, in particular the CZCP, “OceanObs” and IEEE’s Ocean Engineering Society (OES). To continue these important exchanges in the ocean community, the 3rd Blue Planet Symposium will be jointly organized by the GEO Blue Planet Initiative (BPI), the CZCP, OceanObs, and IEEE OES.

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.