December 2019 OES Beacon OES Beacon

OES Participation in OceanObs’19 16 – 20 September 2019

Mal Heron, Jay Pearlman and Christopher Whitt

At the end of each decade, the ocean community comes together to look to the future. Where we were, where we are, where we are going in the next 10 years? The discussions are broad ranging, from observations to applications, from science to engineering to end users of our ocean data and information.

Christopher Witt points out the importance
of the word ‘Autonomous’.
Francoise Pearlman discussing Best Practices
with Tom Kearney

Setting the foundation for these discussions were more than a hundred “community white papers” that provided both background and future vision. OES members participated in a significant number of these and took the lead in two – one on best practices and standards, and another on autonomous vehicles. These were massive efforts, with 58 authors on one and 25 on the other, and with challenges in converging perspectives.  Christopher Whitt led the paper on autonomous vehicles and the photo shows how proud he is of the abstract that cuts across nearly all of the Technology Committees in OES.  The other photo shows Francoise Pearlman explaining the details of Best Practices.  From the topics of these papers, breakout discussion subjects were selected for informal discussions of key issues and opportunities for the coming decade.

A vision for the decade does not appear in a day or even months. The convergence of recommendations from the panels, breakout groups and special sessions is the first step. There will be a series of meetings with the first public meeting at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco in December 2019. This is followed by the OceanObs Research Coordination Network (RCN) meeting on February 16th in San Diego, just prior to the Ocean Sciences Meeting. The RCN meeting will provide an open forum for discussing the specifics that provide a foundation to develop the vision. 

These were big efforts for the OES members involved, but their active involvement keeps OES technologies heading in the direction that we think the community wants. Those who may be interested in attending the future meetings, please contact Jay Pearlman who is the chair of the Ocean Observing and Environment Sustainability Technology Committee.

There was a conference statement at the end of the meeting. (see The statement is too long for this article but two points are worth noting:

  • Harness the creativity of the academic research and engineering communities, and work in partnership with the private and public sectors to evolve sensors and platforms, better integrate observations, revolutionize information products about the ocean…; and
  • Use best practices, standards, formats, vocabularies, and the highest ethics in the collection and use of ocean data


  1. Whitt, C., (2019) Future Vision for Autonomous Ocean Observations. Front.Mar.Sci., submitted.
  2. Pearlman, J, et al., a(2019) Evolving and Sustaining Ocean Best Practices and Standards for the Next Decade. Front. Mar. Sci.6:277. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00277