National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2011

Progressing towards global sustained deep ocean observations

Garzoli, S. L., O. Boebel, H. Brydene, R. A. Fine, M. Fukasawa, S. Gladyshev, G. Johnson, M. Johnson, A. MacDonald, C.S. Meinen, H. Mercier, A. Orsi, A. Piola, S. Rintoul, S. Speich, M. Visbeck, and R. Wanninkhof

doi: 10.5270/OceanObs09.cwp.34, In Proceedings of the "OceanObs'09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society" Conference (Vol. 2), Venice, Italy, 21–25 September 2009, Hall, J., D.E. Harrison, and D. Stammer, Eds., ESA Publication WPP-306 (2010)

The deep ocean plays a crucial role in aspects of the climate system on longer time-scales including the global heat budget, sea level rise, potential variations in the meridional overturning circulation, and long-term storage of climatically relevant compounds such as CO2. Expanding the ocean observing system towards being truly global will include adequately measuring the half of the ocean volume below 2000 m depth. This will require an increased commitment to the design and implementation of technologies for collecting deep ocean data and transmitting these data to shore in a cost effective manner. This paper focuses on four of the fundamental areas where improvements to the observing system in the deep ocean are critical to the advancement of our understanding of climate science. These include deep circulation with an emphasis on “strong flows”, ocean heat content, fresh water/salinity content, and CO2 content. It is clear that to continue working towards understanding of climate variations and their impact on society, it is imperative to maintain existing observing systems while improving and expanding the deep ocean components of the Global Ocean Observing System. Recommendations are provided for expanding the observing systems for deep circulation, for deep temperature and salinity variations (hence heat and fresh water estimates), and for deep observations of CO2 and other chemical tracers. Recommendations are also provided in areas where technological advances are required to improve the ability to collect this data remotely using either free-floating or fixed observing platforms.

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