Seen from satellites in space, the Earth is a blue planet with three quarters of its surface covered by water. The ocean, however, does not function in isolation but is part of an integrated Earth system, comprising land, water, and the atmosphere, and their associated ecosystems. Thus changes in the ocean can have a dramatic impact on human populations and all life on Earth, through, for example, their impact on our climate. As the temperature of the oceans changes, many impacts are felt including changes to the major current systems, the intensity and frequency of storms and the distribution of sea ice. These will have a profound impact on shipping, which is vital for transportation of resources around the globe. Furthermore, a disproportionate number of people reside around the ocean rim. It is thus vital that, as a world society, we learn as much as possible about the ocean, how it functions, and how it might respond to climate change.
The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) has defined 9 'Societal Benefit Areas' that are addressed by the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). Ocean observations have the potential to produce societal benefits in all of those categories.
Follow the links below to read about ocean observations in the different Societal Benefit Areas: