Special Sessions are town hall-style events focusing on a variety of unique ocean observing topics.  

  • 16 organizational and community-led special sessions are scheduled to run parallel to the daily theme panels from 1130 AM to 1230 PM(September 17, 18, and 19), categorized by the daily theme: Information, Innovation, and Integration.

  • Special Sessions are an opportunity to take a deeper dive into important topics identified as a priorities by our sponsors.


Tuesday: Information: Sept 17

LEAD: Australian Institute of Marine Science and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

Nations with marine territories are blessed with unique economic opportunities as oceans enable global trade through shipping, feed and water people through fishing and desalination and attract tourists and their recreational spending. They have a responsibility for environmental stewardship in order to safely and efficiently extract resources (plant, animal and mineral) in such a way that limits adverse impacts on the environment and other industries and users. Australia is one such nation and the most recent estimate of Australian marine industries was AU$68 billion in 2015/16. Observations are critical in managing our oceans and responding to the challenges faced by our oceans resulting from climate change, pollution, acidification etc. Australia marine research providers have long collaborated to provide high value observations to those with a stake in healthy and sustainable oceans. This event will discuss several case studies linking ocean observations to growth of the blue economy followed by a Panel discussion.

LEAD: European Commission

To realise a global or a regional fit-for-purpose ocean observing system by 2030 would benefit from consensus as to what fit-for-purpose means. Who are the main stakeholders and how to obtain feedback on the system performance. We will focus on what different users expect, how they can be integrated into putting the system together, how they are involved in design and operation of the system, and how we enhance sustainability of ocean observation systems by 2030. The All-Atlantic Ocean and its connection to the adjacent seas and polar oceans will be taken as an example.

LEAD: Clarissa Anderson, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

This 1-hr special session will feature presentations and a roundtable discussion that focus on the design and implementation of a global harmful algal bloom (HAB) observing system integrated with broader conference objectives of observing life in the sea in a changing climate. We will deliver a set of recommendations to the global ocean observing community and the UNESCO SCOR/GlobalHAB program as action items that align with the GOOS framework and respond (but are not limited) to the following objectives: 1) advance and improve cost-effective and sustainable HAB forecast systems that address the HAB-risk warning requirements of key end-users at global and regional levels; 2) incorporate available Earth Observations into monitoring and predictive efforts, including blended model-satellite products and data-assimilative model systems; 3) identify societal priorities with respect to the HAB problem, e.g. public health, food security, clean drinking water, aquaculture, sustainable fishing, tourism and recreation, and 4) form programs with robust communication channels for stakeholders and partners.

LEAD: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 

Response to extreme events demands the world’s best global weather models and the most robust ocean observation systems. Predicting  ecosystem-wide weather and marine extremes and hazards has been enhanced by advances in ocean observations and by building cross-disciplinary partnerships between oceanographers and meteorologists. In this session, NOAA will provide an agency overview to show the integration and interconnected contributions necessary to take observations to services across the value chain, and use shared data and information to impactfully save lives in the oceans and along the coasts while sustaining and improving national and local economies. The session will include time for community discussion to help identify gaps and opportunities. 

LEAD: Chinese Sponsors Group

This special session will address nationally coordinated activities on end user engagement and how they interact with global ocean observations. More information on this session will be added soon. 

Wednesday: Innovation: Sept 18

LEAD: Japanese Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology

While long-term ocean observations are critically important for physical, biological, and chemical research of our seas, sustaining routine observations does not always match immediate priorities of research institutions and agencies, such as JAMSTEC. On the other hand, it is true that innovative observing instruments, techniques, and methodologies stem from sustained observations. Taking the evolution of Argo as an example, this session will address the challenges and opportunities of how research institutions enable innovation through both research and sustained activities and how they contribute to the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS).

LEADS: National Aeronautics and Space Administration 

Details to come!

LEAD: Bruce Howe, University of Hawai’i

We will explore innovation both in furthering the capability of existing platforms as well as new and possible future platforms and shared infrastructure. Of interest are multi-purpose sustainable infrastructure elements that are networked and interconnected to provide system-wide services such as basin scale positioning and navigation and power and communications. The session will develop recommendations for the continuing development and eventual implementation into GOOS.

LEAD: US Department of Energy 

Ocean observations underpin the Blue Economy, yet most of the ocean remains unexplored and poorly sampled, due in part to lack of sufficient energy to power instruments and platforms. Marine energy from waves, tides, ocean currents, and thermal gradients is plentiful, reliable and, when integrated with ocean observing technologies, could reduce or eliminate many energy constraints. Join representatives from the US Government (including DOE, NOAA, and others) along with international experts from across the ocean observation and marine energy communities to discuss how recently announced research initiatives and energy innovation can lead to entirely new capabilities in ocean observation.

LEAD: Margaret Leinen, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

This special session will focus on the impact of environmental DNA and marine genomics on ocean observations. More information on this session will be added soon. 

Thursday: Integration: Sept 19

LEAD: National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and Center for Southern Hemisphere Oceans Research

The special session is hosted by National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology (QNLM) and co-hosted by Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and Center for Southern Hemisphere Oceans Research (CSHOR). One of the “societal outcomes” of the UN Decade of Ocean Sciences is “transparent and accessible ocean” through observations, understanding and modelling, leading to a “predicted ocean”, whereby all nations, stakeholders and citizens have access to ocean data and information, technologies, and have the capacities to inform their decisions. This session focuses on how we may best build a global “transparent ocean” community by entraining contribution from more nations to innovation of observing technologies, to building a cost-effective global observing system, and to data-sharing. Another focus of the session is on whether there is need for “between-decadal” conferences in the era of artificial intelligence and deep machine learning, to respond in a timely fashion to scientific and societal needs arising within the UN ocean decade and beyond.

LEAD: Carolyn Scheurle, Institut de la Mer de Villefranche, IMEV

An ocean-literate person understands the importance of the ocean to humankind, can communicate about the ocean meaningfully and is able to make informed and responsible decisions regarding the ocean and its resources.
Today, with the pressing need and the high ambition to increase ocean literacy, science outreach and communication seek to inform citizens – kids and adults – and to share knowledge and values.
Together with Frontiers for Young Minds, a panel of marine scientists and outreach experts will present and discuss an original way for science outreach and communication, an ocean Collection for kids and teens, and exchange on its potential for future development.

LEAD: Consortium for Ocean Leadership 

Sustained ocean observing requires reliable funding and decision support from myriad partner organizations and end-users. This session will examine next steps for galvanizing these stakeholders into an international collective impact organization to strengthen ocean observing governance over the next decade. Town Hall panelists will engage the audience in a discussion about how we develop formal partnerships to augment networks between the ocean observation science community with nonprofits, philanthropic organizations, academia, government agencies, and the commercial sector.
The importance of ocean data for national security, the economy, and society, as well the international coordination required to support a global system, makes governments primarily responsible for supporting ocean observations. However, there is an opportunity for new models of support of a sustained observing system within and beyond government structures. Long-term planning and partnerships with private and nonprofit sectors could address some of the challenges in sustaining observations, which includes support for workforce and technology development. Achieving this will require new cooperation beyond what has been achieved to-date. Up to recently, the many ocean organizations that do exist have tended to operate more on their own than jointly.
Led by the organizations that coordinated OceanObs’19, this session will engage speakers and the audience in a discussion about how to improve governance to advance ocean observing, addressing broad issues with many constituencies.

LEADS: Lisa Levin, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Alan Leonardi, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 

This session, hosted by the Deep-Ocean Observing Strategy and NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research will foster discussion among a broad group of stakeholders with deep-ocean interests about the integration of observing programs, data, and models, to address scientific and societal needs of the 21st century. We will focus on the challenges of how to (a ) innovate and facilitate the integrated collection and analysis of biological, biogeochemical and physical observations, and (b) coordinate and develop capacity for the highly distributed deep-ocean observing and exploration communities in alignment with GOOS. Our goal is to generate new approaches and community-vetted actions for sustained observing within the deep-ocean community and to provide input to the Decade of Ocean Science as well as other international planning efforts.


LEAD: Ocean Networks Canada

This special session will examine the priorities of indigenous communities, peoples and nations in terms of ocean governance.

Keynote Panel, Special Session, and Breakout Session Sign Up

With over 1200 registered, we need you to indicate which sessions you are most interest in attending throughout the week. This will help our leads organize and better facilitate your input. You may switch sessions during the conference if you change your mind.

To assist us in this, please fill out the following sign-up form by August 14th.

Session Sign Up