We live on a Blue Planet, and the Ocean benefits many sectors of society. It is only through the collective efforts of all nations that we can observe the oceans, to understand and predict better their role in the Earth system.

The ocean makes 50% of the oxygen we breathe. It is the biggest reservoir on planet Earth of heat, water and carbon. Rates of change of these variables influence the environmental conditions we experience on land, such as our weather and climate, but many key properties of the oceans are changing rapidly. We rely on the oceans for food, transport and recreation. However, the oceans are subject to a diversity of threats, including pollution, ocean warming, loss of ice cover, reduction of bio-diversity, overfishing and ocean acidification.

We already know how to observe the ocean in all its aspects, including physics, chemistry, biology and geology, at the required time and space scales. We have the ability to sample the remotest parts of the oceans, from pole to pole and into the deepest ocean trenches. Unfortunately, the sustained network of coastal and deep-sea observations is unevenly distributed, and has serious gaps.

The creation of the Blue Planet Task was an initiative of the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO) in 2011, to bring together all the existing ocean observation programmes within GEO, to add new ones to the GEO portfolio, and to create synergies between them. Blue Planet brings together many ocean observation programmes with a societal benefit angle.

Spinning Earth animation