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Background & Need

The ocean is essential to our society - it regulates the global climate, provides us with natural resources such as food, materials, important substances, and energy. It is essential for international trade and recreational and cultural activities. Ocean observations touch our lives every day from the food we eat, to the clothes we wear, to how we spend our leisure time. The ocean is estimated to be the seventh largest economy in the world. Goods and services from coastal and marine environments have been estimated at US$2.5 trillion each year worldwide (Hoegh-Guldberg et al., 2015).


We need an integrated basin-scale ocean observing system to support ocean management. Coordinated basin-scale activities will lead to better modelling, monitoring, and forecasting products (e.g. through alignment of observing network activities as well as supporting data management and integration). AtlantOS will

  • Ensure that we share information widely, encouraging multiple uses of data, opening data to many uses and providing us with the greatest value, 
  • Help us to save time, money, and energy by working together,
  • Support the implementation of observing systems and the collection of ocean data in the Atlantic Ocean, and
  • Help keep us safe as we use the oceans, and inform us about ocean environmental status.

In March 2019, the international program Atlantic Ocean Observing System (AtlantOS) was established by the ocean observing community at the First International AtlantOS Symposium at the UNESCO headquarter in Paris, France. Since then, several steps have been pursued to align AtlantOS with the work of the Global ocean Observing System (GOOS) and the Group on Earth Observations (GEO). In retrospect, it was a logical step to establish an ‘AtlantOS program’ in order to enable continuation of the many ocean observing activities that ‘AtlantOS – the EU Horizon 2020 project’ kicked-off during its four year life-time. New partnerships had been initiated, improved, and facilitated across the Atlantic, from North to South and from East to West; ocean observing elements – from making observations in the field to creating new or enhance ocean information products – have been consolidated and further developed. From early on, an international group of 19 ocean observing experts (AtlantOS BluePrint Group) accompanied in ‘AtlantOS - the project’ with a vision to establish a legacy from the project achievements - ‘AtlantOS - the program’ (deYoung et al., 2019). This vision was published and presented to the global ocean observing community at the OceanObs’19 conference in September 2019 in Honolulu (HI, USA).

AtlantOS was also shared to the international community at the 30th IOC-UNESCO General Assembly in June/July 2019 and the assembly noted “the vision of the All-Atlantic Ocean Observing System (the AtlantOS Program) […]” and called “on interested Member States to engage in the development of the All-Atlantic Ocean Observing System (the AtlantOS Program) as a contribution to GOOS” (IOC (of UNESCO), IOC-XXX/ Decisions).

The approach that is being followed by AtlantOS to develop the basin-scale program is to work with its partners on two overarching activities: The first is to advance the implementation of joint observational elements in the Atlantic Ocean to improve the basin-scale system and its information products. The second deals with specific, topic related use cases.