JCOMM Observing System
Report Card 2016

The ocean affects us all. It influences weather and climate, impacting many sectors such as agriculture, marine and coastal activities, marine ecosystems, tourism, living conditions, human health and disaster preparedness, both regional and globally.

In situ marine meteorological and oceanographic observations, together with satellite observations, are necessary for many applications and to address socio-economic needs. This first annual Report Card assesses the status and the value of the global ocean observing networks that are supported by many countries and coordinated through the Joint WMO-IOC (World Meteorological Organization-Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO) Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM).

Ocean observing in the Pacific Ocean is vital for detection and prediction of the El Niño Southern Oscillation and its consequences for multiple sectors.
Monthly average of global burned area for August 2015. Credits: NASA.
El Niño-driven effects change the distribution and severity of wildfires worldwide. The change in ocean-atmospheric dynamics shifts the rainfall causing less rain to fall in many areas of the tropics and making forests more vulnerable to human-ignited fires. Fires in tropical forests also impact agriculture yield and accelerate carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere reducing air quality.
Sea level observations and projections help coastal communities planning for and adapting to the risk of rising sea levels to their economies, infrastructure and coastal habitats.
Adapted from Church, J.A. et al. 2013 (Fig 13.27): Sea level Change. In Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the IPCC AR5, Figures 13.3, 13.8; 13.12, 13.20 and 13.27. [Stocker,T.F., et al(eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, UK and New York, USA.
Sustained ocean observations are vital to support the Blue Economy which is predicted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to more than double its contribution to the global value-added economy, reaching over $3 trillion by 2030. The Blue Economy is a marine-based economic development that aims to improved human well-being, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.
million full time
jobs employed by ocean
industries by 2030

OCEAN OBSERVING system status

In situ
  • Ship based measurements - SOT

  ≥ 30
  • See level gauges - GLOSS

  ≥ 30
  • Drifting buoys - DBCP

  • Moored buoys - DBCP

  • Moored bouys - OceanSITES

  • Profiling floats - Argo

  ≥ 30
  • Repeated Transects - GO-SHIP

In situ networks Contri-buting countries Themes

Ship based measurements - SOT

  ≥ 30

See level gauges - GLOSS

  ≥ 30

Drifting buoys - DBCP


Moored buoys - DBCP


Moored bouys - OceanSITES


Profiling floats - Argo

  ≥ 30

Repeated Transects - GO-SHIP


Emerging networks

Observational gaps, advanced technology, and demand for ocean information have energized emerging networks for biogeochemisty, ocean health, sustainable ocean resources, coastal environments, and remote parts of the global ocean.

The 3 categories are defined according to whether or not the missions are meeting the WMO/Global Climate Observing System requirements (accuracy or measurements, coverage, spatial resolution, temporal sampling, etc..)
More information at https://oceans.nasa.gov

national partners

based on operational platforms registered at JCOMMOPS as of December 2016: 74 countries

Number of supported networks

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6

Sustaining the oceanographic and marine meteorological observing networks remains a continuous challenge for the international community. WMO Members and IOC of UNESCO Member States are investing in the observing system and rely on JCOMM expertise to guide them for addressing their needs.


General information: www.jcomm.info
Networks status: www.ocean-ops.org
Assistance: reportcard@ocean-ops.org

Authors: JCOMM Observations Coordination Group (OCG) and the JCOMM in situ Observations Programme Support centre (JCOMMOPS). JCOMMOPS monitors the status and improves the overall performance of the ocean observing system.