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N° 23–2009: Observing the oceans: information meeting for the media in Venice, Italy, on 21 September

14 September 2009

The world's oceans are now being observed routinely and systematically by means of satellite and in situ techniques. The global ocean observing system is changing, however. After a decade of work on integrating Earth- and satellite-based observing networks, thereby establishing new observation methods that have made a tremendous impact on the way climate change and physical oceanic variability is measured, scientists are once again exploring uncharted waters and looking to set a new course for the future at the OceanObs'09 Conference in Venice, Italy on 21-25 September 2009.


Ten years ago - at the first conference for a comprehensive ocean observing system - scientists envisioned merging satellite altimetry of sea-surface height with tide gauges and buoy measurements in order to forecast ocean currents. They brainstormed methods of, for the first time, systematically monitoring changes in temperature and salinity in the Southern Ocean and the South Atlantic. They also drew up a plan for deploying a global array of temperature and salinity floats that would profile the water column down to a depth of 2000m in real time.

The initiatives launched at that 1999 conference have since provided data used for Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments of human influence on climate change and to improve seasonal forecasts crucial for agriculture, hydropower, and storm prediction, as well as to build up information invaluable to the lives and safety of mariners.

OceanObs'09 will analyse this past decade of achievement and steer the observing system in a new direction for the future. The aim will be to take stock of the progress made over the last 10 years, present scientific results based on global ocean observations, consider the related societal and economic benefits, examine the present frontiers of global ocean observations and look at the way ahead in the coming decade. Over 500 participants from 30 countries will be attending OceanObs'09 to discuss the societal and economic needs that the ocean observing system should address over the next 10 years. Further details and the list of speakers are available on the conference website:

With a better understanding of how the ocean operates has come a sobering awareness of the impact of changes on marine ecosystems. Understanding the role of carbon flux between the atmosphere, land and sea is a challenge that scientists must meet if the consequences of political decisions on carbon emissions are to be monitored and assessed. Ensuring the sustainability of the observing system is also at the forefront of the agenda. Commitments to further enhance and continue operations are needed from satellite agencies and for in situ networks alike.

Information meeting for the media

On Monday 21 September, media representatives will have the opportunity to attend an in-depth briefing for the press at the conference venue. Scientists from contributing institutions, as well as other experts, will give an insight into the future of ocean observing and its scientific objectives and will be available for individual interviews. The information meeting agenda is as follows:




ESA's role in observing the oceans from space - Volker Liebig, Director of Earth Observation Programmes, ESA


Operational services for ocean observation from Eumetsat - Mikael Rattenborg, Director of Operations, Eumetsat


Sea level: regional and global trends - Anny Cazenave, CNES, Member of the French Academy of Sciences


The changing acidity of the oceans - Richard Feely, NOAA


The need for ocean observations and information - Shailesh Nayak, Secretary, Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences


Question and answer session


Working lunch with individual interview opportunities


End of information meeting.

Interested members of the press can also participate remotely in the 21 September information meeting in teleconference mode via telephone.

Additional media opportunities

The co-chairs of the conference organising committee will also be available on Friday 25 September after 17:30 hours Central European Time (15:30 UTC) for telephone interviews with members of the press interested in the conference outcomes.

Furthermore, the conference organisers will also grant free registration for the whole conference to any credentialed full-time journalist or professional freelance journalist with proven affiliations to major publications or outlets. If you are a reporter and would like to attend, please contact the OceanObs'09 Lead Media Contact at the address given below.

We particularly recommend attending the sessions on the first day which will look back at the OceanObs'99 vision and examine what has been achieved in a decade of growing in situ and satellite observing networks and an expanding data system, and the development of ocean-related information. The presentations will then look at where the greatest continuing challenge lies and how the ocean observing system fits into a broader Earth system perspective. At the afternoon session, presenters will show how ocean observations currently serve the application areas, which additional observations are needed and what vision can be provided for the possible aims of the coming decade. The detailed programme for conference day 1 can be found at:

More information

More information can be found on the following internet sites:

Main conference website:

Conference agenda:

Accommodation information:

Media registration

Media representatives wishing to attend the information meeting for the media or other parts of the OceanObs'09 conference are kindly requested to complete the attached accreditation form and fax or email it back by Thursday 17 September to the OceanObs'09 Lead Media Contact below, who can also be contacted regarding any media queries relating to the conference, such as how to set up interviews and obtain images and background information.

OceanObs'09 Lead Media Contact

Dieter Isakeit

Head of the ESA-ESRIN Corporate Communication Office

Frascati (Rome), Italy


Tel. +39 06 941 80 950

Mobile +39 334 68 78 625

Fax +39 06 941 80 952

Joint organising

These media information activities are a joint initiative of the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) and the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), all sponsors of the conference along with other partners. These organisations have separate mailing lists and it is therefore possible that media representatives will receive this same invitation more than once.


OceanObs'09 Information Meeting for the Media

Monday 21 September 2009, 13:15 hrs - 14:45 hrs

Venice Convention Centre

Palazzo del Casinò

Lungomare Marconi 30

Lido di Venezia

IT-30126 Venezia/Venice, Italy

First name: ________________ Last name: ____________________

Media organisation: ________________________________________

Address: ___________________________________________________

Tel: __________________________ Fax: _____________________

Mobile: ______________________ Email: ____________________

[ ] I will be attending the Information Meeting for the Media on 21 September

[ ] I wish to participate remotely in the Information Meeting.

Please provide me with the dial-in number and access code

[ ] I wish to attend the following parts of the OceanObs'09 conference:


[ ] I wish to interview by telephone one of the members of the conference organising committee on the outcome of the conference on Friday 25 September, after 17:30 hrs

Please return the completed accreditation form by email or fax to:

Email: – Fax: +39 06 941 80 952


For further information:

ESA - Media Relations Office

Tel: +33.(0)1.5369.7299

Fax: +33.(0)1.5369.7690