Martin Visbek

Networking Friday with Martin Visbeck (GEOMAR)

  • DATE
    October, 2nd, 2020, 1-2pm UTC
  • AIR Centre Networking Fridays
  • Download Presentation (to be available after the session)
    Future Ocean Sustainability – From Ocean Observation towards Sustainable Development

On October 2nd, 2020, 1-2 PM UTC, Martin Visbeck, Professor for Physical Oceanography at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and Kiel University, discussed the Future Ocean Sustainability – From Ocean Observation towards Sustainable Development. The session was moderated by Isabel Sousa Pinto, Professor at the University of Porto and Head of the Aquatic Biodiversity and Conservation group at Interdisciplinary Centre for Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR).

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. Together with human development and economic growth, increased use and overuse of ocean resources and services have exerted strong pressure on the marine environment, ranging from overfishing, unsustainable resource extraction, and alteration of coastal zones to various types of thoughtless pollution including CO2 emissions causing climate change – the ocean is warming, acidifying, deoxygenating and sea level is rising.

International cooperation in science and effective local, regional and global governance are required to protect the marine environment and promote the sustainable use of marine resources to preserve an ‘healthy’ and productive ocean to keep delivering fundamental ocean services to meet the needs of future generations. Some of the global challenges such as food security, marine community health, and material and energy supply require more science from discovery and sustained ocean observations to understanding and the development of scenarios and predictions. We need an integrated basin-scale ocean observing system to support ocean management. Coordinated basin-scale activities will lead to better modeling, monitoring, and forecasting products (e.g. through alignment of observing network activities as well as supporting data management and integration). This information needs to be assessed and recommendations for development pathways given. We need both a better understanding of ocean change and its challenges as well as more knowledge about new opportunities in order to develop towards a more sustainable relationship between humans and the ocean.

How do we move from an unsustainable human-ocean interaction towards a world where sustainability is key and ocean-ecosystem-services are valued and preserved? A profitable approach is to fully implement an ocean value chain from observations via understanding to information, from information to scenarios to knowledge and from ocean knowledge to societal action.

Martin introduced two elements of the value chain more specifically: First the All-Atlantic Ocean Observing System (AtlantOS), a community-based program to support the implementation of an integrated basin-scale observing system ‘that benefits all of us living, working and relying on the ocean’. AtlantOS is working to support the ocean community to enhance and sustain basin-scale ocean observing in the Atlantic as a contribution to the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and similar programs and promotes the GEO Blue Planet Initiative. How can we transform current ocean observing from a niche action to the societal norm. Martin also introduced the concept of a Digital Twin of the Ocean as the next step in the value chain, filling the need to integrate a wide range of data and information sources (from physics to ecology through biology, chemistry and geology, as well as from social or economic sciences and business operators), to transform data into knowledge and to connect, engage, and empower citizens, governments and industries by providing them with the capacity to inform their decisions with the goal to arrive at a more sustainable ocean governing system. Neither AtlantOS nor the Digital Twin Ocean can succeed without full engagement of the ocean community including the Global North and Global South, actors from academia, business, civil society, indigenous and communities of practice. The upcoming UN Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to advance such agendas in the Atlantic and around the globe.

Relevant links:


Martin Visbeck

Martin Visbeck is head of research unit Physical Oceanography at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and professor at Kiel University, Germany. His research interests revolve around ocean dynamic and the ocean’s role in the climate system, integrated global ocean observation and ocean sustainable development. He advanced the ‘Future Ocean’ Network in Kiel to advance integrated marine sciences by bringing together different disciplines to work on marine issues. He has led the EU AtlantOS Project on sustained ocean observing in the Atlantic. He serves on a number of national and international advisory committees including the Governing Board of the International Science Council (ISC), Joint Scientific Committee of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), leadership council of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), Executive Planning Group for the UN Decade of Ocean Science Decade for Sustainable Development 2021-2030 and the Assembly supporting the development of the EU Horizon Europe Ocean Mission. He chairs the Advisory Committee for Earth Observations at ESA. He is President of The Oceanography Society (TOS), and was elected fellow of the AGU, AMS, TOS and the European Academy of Sciences. Martin Visbeck is involved in strategic planning and decision-making processes about the ocean and sustainable development at a national, European and global level.


Isabel Sousa Pinto

Prof Isabel Sousa Pinto has a PhD in Marine Biology (phycology) from the UCSB, USA. She is a Professor at the University of Porto and Head of the Aquatic Biodiversity and Conservation group at Interdisciplinary Centre for Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR). She is also member of its Board of Directors. Her main research has been on marine biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, and how is impacted by climate change, invasive species and other anthropogenic drivers. She has a particular focus on the seaweed flora as well as on algal ecophysiology, cultivation and promotion of its sustainable use and was member of the POGO working group “Planning the implementation of a global long-term observing and data sharing strategy for macroalgal communities”. She is also working on the science-policy – society interfaces and on promoting ocean literacy. She is serving in different European and International steering Committees as Euromarine, European Ocean Observation System (EOOS) and AtlantOS to develop the biodiversity component of the Ocean Observations and its integration with the other observation components and with the European Marine Board in to identify gaps in biological observations and produce recommendations to fill them. At global level she is the co-chair of MBON – Marine Biodiversity Observation Network from GEO BON.

She was part of the Portuguese delegation to the Convention on Biological Diversity (2006-2011) and has been since working with IPBES – the Intergovernamental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, was the Portuguese Representative in this platform until 2018, when was elected to its Multidisciplinary Expert Panel, a panel that supervises the scientific work of the Platform, becoming later also co-chair of its Knowledge and Data task force. Besides more than 180 scientific publications, she was a Coordinating Lead Author for the Regional Assessemnt of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Europe and Central Asia of IPBES.

We will continue with the Networking Fridays during the next months. More information about future sessions as well as presentations and videos from previous sessions can be found here. Twitter Hashtag: #netfridays. Expect some very exciting afternoons, or mornings or evenings, depending on where you are…

If you need any additional information please send an email to Jose Luiz Moutinho.

Martin VIsbeck

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