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: 1130-1230

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

Room: 319 A/B

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

Room: 316B

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: Chinese Sponsors Group

Room: 317A

This special session will address nationally coordinated activities on end user engagement and how they interact with global ocean observations.  

LEAD: Clarissa Anderson, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Room: 323C

This one-hour 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 

Room: 323 A/B

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.

Wednesday: Innovation: Sept 18: 1130-1230

LEAD: Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology

Room: 323 A/B

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 

Room: 319 A/B

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) welcomes OceanObs’19 participants to a dialogue about NASA’s ocean observation plans for the 2020’s. A panel will share highlights of NASA’s on-orbit oceanography missions, upcoming launches – the Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission and the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, and ocean Ecosystem (PACE) mission, airborne field campaigns – the Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) project and the Sub-Mesoscale Ocean Dynamics Experiment (S-MODE) project.  If time allows, broader links to NASA’s ocean-related science team activities will be discussed. Topics will be presented as “flash” talks by a panel followed by audience questions and discussion with the panelists.

LEAD: Bruce Howe, University of Hawaii

Room: 316B

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 

Room: 317A

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 and Francisco Chavez, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Room: 323C

The field of environmental DNA (eDNA) is exploding with analysis techniques, autonomous systems and information management evolving and improving rapidly. This session will provide a brief overview of eDNA measurement and issues, organizational efforts by the international eDNA community, improvements in laboratory and in situ techniques, advances in the use of eDNA for ecosystem assessments, and the challenges remaining. We anticipate developing recommendations to advance international use of eDNA in global ocean observing systems.

Thursday: Integration: Sept 19: 1130-1230

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

Room: 317A

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

Room: 323 A/B

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 

Room: 319 A/B

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 

Room: 316B

Download full agenda here. 

The deep ocean (below 200 m) covers over half of the planet and is increasingly recognized as critical in global heat, carbon sequestration and climate dynamics, a receptacle for contaminants and debris, as well as replete with living and non-living resources for society. Due to high pressure and its remoteness, as well as jurisdictional and governance challenges, observing in the deep ocean entails its own unique requirements. As such the deep ocean  transcends the many Ocean Obs 19 themes: climate change, ecosystem health, food and energy, pollution, blue economy, observing technology innovation, data innovation, modeling challenges, and a need for community building and system integration.

Goals: This session will discuss emergence of key observing needs in the deep ocean with a goal offostering discussion among the very broad group of stakeholders with deep-ocean interests. We explore how to integrate observing programs, data, and models, to address societal needs of the 21st century.

Key questions are:

  1. How can we innovate and facilitate the integrated collection and analysis of physics, geology, biogeochemistry and biology observations?
  2.  How can we bring together the communities of industry, technology, science and conservation to fill deep-ocean data gaps?
  3. How can we address the diverse coordination, management and capacity development needs of the highly distributed observing community?
  4. How can technologies to conduct deep sea observations locally be scaled up to global-scale, multidisciplinary observing networks?
  5. What is required to improve rapid data sharing and access across disciplines and countries?

After a brief introduction to the session, panelists will address these questions in 5 min. flash talks, making specific deep observing recommendations. These presentations will be followed by a half hour of audience questions, feedback and contributions. Our goal is to generate a series of recommendations for a post-Obs’19 task team and for the Decade for Ocean Science. This session will highlight a part of the ocean that is often overlooked or not well considered. We encourage all with an interest in the deep ocean to participate.


LEAD: Ocean Networks Canada

Room: 323C

Indigenous nations have been involved in ocean observation for many generations, both through lived experience and through the use of new and emerging methods. However, the use of Indigenous knowledge in ocean observation is not always well understood or engaged by the non-indigenous community. In this session, delegates from Canada, Hawaii, the continental US, New Zealand,  and the Pacific Islands will provide insight on some of the priorities, methods, and values for Indigenous ocean observation today, and for the coming decade, followed by an opportunity for dialogue with the audience. Through this dialogue, this session aims to build relationships to ensure the rights, interests, knowledge, and specific ocean information needs and technical capacities of Indigenous peoples are reflected in the next decade of ocean observation efforts.