Symposium themes

Theme #1Ocean Prediction: Past, present, and future

Operational ocean prediction serves as a core element of the United Nation’s Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and directly enables the other six targeted outcomes: a clean ocean, a healthy and resilient ocean, a productive ocean, a safe ocean, an accessible ocean, and an inspiring and engaging ocean. Highlighting the ocean prediction science we need for the ocean we want, this theme aims to highlight efforts targeting coalescing and evolving operational ocean prediction into a robust sustained enterprise that knits together global, regional, and local components into a coherent framework to integrate activities, inform decision-making, and provide greater return on investments throughout the ocean observation value chain. Efforts targeting marine ecosystem prediction are included. This theme spans relevant UN Ocean Decade programmes/projects (ForeSea, CoastPredict, Ocean Observing Co-design, DITTO, SynOBs, etc.), as well as the OceanPrediction Decade Collaborative Center. Providing context for the Symposium, the theme addresses the value chain going from observations, models, services to applications and overarching topics, including historical background, achievements, long term evolution of ocean prediction capabilities and societal needs.

Theme #2Coastal / regional ocean prediction

The terms “regional and coastal” encompass a wide range of spatial scales and processes, where the bathymetry and the coastline have the leading order impact. Regional and coastal ocean prediction models provide valuable insights into factors such as marine conditions and potential hazards, assisting in decision-making related to navigation, search and rescue, environmental hazard response, fisheries management, public health, recreation, tourism, etc. On longer temporal scales, ocean prediction models provide insights into climate-driven trends in the sea level, storm surges, biological and ocean chemistry shifts, etc. empowering coastal communities to implement adaptive strategies and sustainable development practices and fostering resilience against long-term environmental challenges. This theme welcomes contributions related to prediction of the shelf ocean circulation, shelf-interior ocean influences, nearshore, estuarine, wetland and tidal flat dynamics, storm surge and coastal floods, sediment transport, coupled atmosphere-ocean-ice-wave prediction in the coastal seas, climate downscaling and coastal resilience, coastal and regional observing systems etc.

Theme #3Polar ocean / Sea ice prediction

With greater focus on the Earth’s high-latitude regions, due to changing access, habitat, and large-scale environmental shifts caused by climate change, adequate observations and modeling are needed to produce critical predictions; however, harsh conditions for observations, and a broader seasonal sea -ice zone pose significant scientific challenges. Sea ice shields air-sea interaction while introducing additional radiative and thermohaline processes, responses, and drivers, adding complexity to modeling and prediction. This theme welcomes end-user experiences, needs, and impacts, focusing on the ocean observation and prediction value chain needed to support informed decision-making. Notably, sea-ice observations, as well as observations near and under sea ice, including derived sea-ice parameters/characterization are of interest, particularly as they serve to address sea-ice forecasting, notably concentration, thickness, stresses, motion, and linear kinematic features. Addressing freshwater budgets for ice-free/covered areas also is of interest, including the roles of transport, stratification, and overturning, which are significant for high-quality prediction. Likewise, sea-ice effects on atmospheric coupling and associated forcings/impacts, such as waves, wave attenuation, storm surges, tides, stratification/overturning, etc., also are of interest. This theme extends to sea-ice impact on ocean biogeochemical-driven processes and habitats.

Theme #4Global / Basin-Scale / Open Ocean prediction

Global ocean circulation, and ocean phenomena at basin scale play a central role in the earth system. Monitoring and forecasting large scale changes occurring in the ocean is crucial to understanding how climate change impacts the ocean in terms of mean sea level, heat uptake, carbon uptake and acidification, as well as a major resource for life on earth. Accurate global and basin-scale ocean current forecasts at short time scale (5-10 days) are, for instance, crucial for ship routing, search and rescue, and pollution tracking, among applications dedicated to monitoring extreme events and emergency response in any part of the ocean. From short “cyclone” forecasting scales to longer time scales, the ocean component brings predictability to ocean-atmosphere-sea ice-land seasonal forecasting systems, as it does to decadal and longer-term earth system projection systems, where the ocean component allows assessing projected long-term changes of the ocean physics and biogeochemistry, including ecosystem shifts. Many global and basin-scale forecasting systems, from short-range to long-term projections, provide boundary conditions to higher-resolution regional and coastal forecasting systems. Long retrospective time series of the global and basin-scale ocean, such as ocean reanalyses and nature runs or frontier experiments at very-high resolution, are essential to understanding changes in ocean circulation, variability and processes, including biogeochemical and biological processes. A better understanding of the respective role of observing networks in constraining the large-scale ocean circulation is also important to improve the benefit of present observations and to prepare for the use of future observations. The impact of observations should be assessed down to physical processes and applications.

Theme #5New developments in ocean predictions: measurements/observations, modeling, data assimilation, machine learning/AI, digital twins, etc.

Advancing and improving ocean predictions requires an earth system perspective, with the focus being on the interactive manner in which the ocean gets impacted by other components (e.g., atmosphere, land, sea ice, wave field, etc) and how the ocean impacts them. Obviously, improvements in ocean modeling, such as higher resolution and better parameterizations, can lead to direct impacts (improvements) in the oceanic fields; however, does that necessarily improve other components and, more specifically, the exchange parameters, such as air-sea fluxes? Since predictions are tied, not only to the underlying model and its physical representation of nature (model error), but also to the quality of initial conditions, it is essential to: (1) consider the model plus its initialization, i.e., data assimilation as a whole, and (2) develop observing capabilities targeting improved forecasts. The scope of this theme is to cover new and novel developments in advancing predictions of the ocean and related components with the emerging methods and tools developments in data assimilation (DA); ocean and coupled modeling; ensembles for DA, probabilistic products and probabilistic scores; observing system evaluation and co-design; in regional products; AI and ML emulation; or in biological observations for marine ecosystem predictions.

Theme #6Ocean prediction (systems and) services

Ocean predictions are only of value if they reach the people who need them, in a form that is useful and accessible. Prediction systems transform observations and scientific understanding into usable and timely information for end users. Services build on this information to provide additional, sometimes bespoke, insights. If the goals of the UN Ocean Decade are to be realized, predictions and services must be within reach of everyone, presented meaningfully, and novel methods utilized to process information.

Theme #7User applications and societal benefits

The ultimate goal of operational services is to provide their users with the information they need, for the applications they want. Such applications are expected to mind the health of ocean ecosystems and the long-term well-being of the communities relying on its resources. The actual range of users and applications of operational services is as broad as the range of contributions that are called in this theme. Here we aim to showcase applications of operational products for monitoring the health and services of marine ecosystems (including detection of harmful algae blooms, hypoxia, jellyfish, drift of plastic) in relation to sustainable development of the blue economy (encompassing fisheries, aquaculture, tourism), implementation of marine policy (e.g., the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Common Fisheries Policy, the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction treaty) and nature-based management of the marine environments (including marine protected areas, fish by-catches, off-shore wind farms, carbon budgets). Safety of people at sea and emergency/incident response (iceberg tracking, ship-routing, search and rescue, beach safety and surf forecasting, early warning systems for surge, waves, inundation) are also our concerns. We are looking for applications of consolidated assimilative ocean modeling systems, as well as of novel digital twins of the ocean, e.g. what-if scenarios for managing options and finding solutions. Contributions where operational oceanography is used to promote ocean literacy, mitigate crises, increase resilience of marine ecosystems and benefit society are particularly welcome.