Blue Planet Symposium

Dates: May 30, 2017 - June 1, 2017

Location: College Park, Maryland

The 3rd Blue Planet Symposium will serve as a forum for discussion of societal information needs resulting from the important role the oceans play in Earth's life-support system and the challenge of minimizing the impacts of human activities on the oceans while utilizing the resources of the oceans to meet our needs. The symposium will also be a platform for the participating communities to exchange information on their activities and identify potential pilot and prototype projects for Blue Planet to focus on in the coming years. The Symposium will address four subthemes:

The changing oceans

Climate change involves major changes in the oceans, including changes in ocean circulation and dynamic sea surface topography, a changing role in the global climate system, sea level rise, and a potentially ice-free Arctic ocean. It is important to understand the current changes and their potential future developments and impacts on the Earth's life-support system from local to global scales.

Threats from pollution, warming and acidification

The health of marine ecosystems and their productivity are exposed to threats from pollution, the warming of the oceans, and an increasing acidification. The current and future impacts of these threats on the marine biosphere and beyond, including the impacts on human societies, need to be understood, monitored, and ways to limit the threats need to be developed.

Processes and life at the Interfaces with the oceans

The oceans are integrated in the global system of systems with many interdependencies between them and the land and the atmosphere. There are many potential cascading effects, leading from disturbances and changes in one system to large impacts on the other systems. Therefore, understanding the processes at the interfaces between oceans, land and atmosphere is crucial in order to take interdependencies into consideration and avoid as far as possible cascading effects.

Sustainable use of ocean resources

Human well-being depends on a wide range of ocean resources and there are numerous economic activities based on using the oceans in various ways. The changing oceans will impact humanity's use of the oceans and provide new opportunities that need careful consideration. We need to take into account the impacts of these activities on the oceans and develop approaches that meet our needs while safeguarding the functioning of the oceans in the Earth’s life-support system.


Anticipated Outcomes

The symposium is expected to result in tenable outcomes relevant to the providers and users of ocean and coastal observation information. Specifically, it is expected that:

  • Linkages with new communities and users will be developed.
  • Potential pilot and prototype projects for Blue Planet will be identified; and
  • Collaborations across groups and disciplines will be strengthened.


Participants of the Symposium will help shape the direction and priorities of Blue Planet activities. The Symposium is open all stakeholders engaged in monitoring, understanding and managing the oceans.

Researchers:  will benefit from attending the Symposium by exposure to research in related fields and interactions with various stakeholders in the ocean observing community. Researchers will also have the opportunity to provide feedback on instrumentation and data collection needs.

Ocean Observing System Representatives: will benefit from the Symposium by learning about various applications for ocean observing data, products and information and having the opportunity to interact directly with current and potential users of their services.

Students: will benefit from attending the Symposium by gaining exposure to current research and user driven applications. Students will also benefit from networking at the Symposium and the opportunity to learn about various career fields related to ocean observing and societal benefits of ocean observations.

Government and Intergovernmental Agency Representatives: will benefit from attending the Symposium by interacting with users of funded infrastructure and products. Government and intergovernmental agency representatives will also benefit from the opportunity to share common interests and lessons learned, identify partnerships and opportunities for leveraging of observing systems and information system capabilities.

Industry Representatives: will benefit from attending the Symposium through interactions with producers of data used in industry products and users of industry products and exposure to various ocean observation research and applications.

Environmental nonprofits, NGO Representatives and Charitable Foundations: will benefit from attending the Symposium by learning about R&D in fields related to ocean observing and related products and services. Non-profits and NGOs will also have the opportunity to share their work with attendees from various organizations.

Environmental Managers: will benefit from attending the Symposium by having the opportunity to share requirements with producers of ocean observation data, products and information and the opportunity to share examples of how ocean observations are used with a wide variety of stakeholders.

Policy Makers and Shapers:  will benefit from attending the Symposium by learning about the stressors, pressures and current state of the oceans and hearing about ocean observation needs from various stakeholders.