Use the future to build the present
Improved Ocean Observation
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1Quantum Revolution& Advanced AI2HumanAugmentation3Eco-Regeneration& Geo-Engineering4Science& Diplomacy1.11.21.31.42.12.22.32.43.13.23.33.43.54.14.24.34.44.5HIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIALAdvancedArtificial IntelligenceQuantumTechnologiesBrain-inspiredComputingBiologicalComputingCognitiveEnhancementHuman Applications of Genetic EngineeringRadical HealthExtensionConsciousnessAugmentation DecarbonisationWorldSimulationFuture FoodSystemsSpaceResourcesOceanStewardshipComplex Systems forSocial EnhancementScience-basedDiplomacyInnovationsin EducationSustainableEconomicsCollaborativeScience Diplomacy
1Quantum Revolution& Advanced AI2HumanAugmentation3Eco-Regeneration& Geo-Engineering4Science& Diplomacy1.11.21.31.42.12.22.32.43.13.23.33.43.54.14.24.34.44.5HIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIALAdvancedArtificial IntelligenceQuantumTechnologiesBrain-inspiredComputingBiologicalComputingCognitiveEnhancementHuman Applications of Genetic EngineeringRadical HealthExtensionConsciousnessAugmentation DecarbonisationWorldSimulationFuture FoodSystemsSpaceResourcesOceanStewardshipComplex Systems forSocial EnhancementScience-basedDiplomacyInnovationsin EducationSustainableEconomicsCollaborativeScience Diplomacy

Sub-Field:

3.5.4Improved Ocean Observation

Observing how ocean temperatures, currents, oxygenation, sea life, and ocean plastic are changing through the water column over time and around the world is necessary, but impossible with current technology and resource allocation. This is a glaring omission, given the ocean’s enormous biodiversity, importance for regulating the climate and of course providing sustenance.

The deep ocean, for example, is by far the largest habitat on the planet, in both area and volume, yet it is also the least observed. This is a significant problem: the scale and dynamism of the oceans means we have relatively little data available with which to model its complexities and thus predict its future state. While the GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project is mapping the planet’s entire sea floor,21 the difficulty in collecting and mapping other types of fundamental data means the ocean remains largely unknown.

In addition, climate change is driving changes in the ocean environment that are moving faster than scientific research can track. The importance of the ocean ecosystem to all other life on Earth means that it will be essential to redouble our efforts to understand and predict ocean activity in the coming decades. Also vital is the development of a more systemic view of the web of interrelationships between humans, marine biodiversity, climate change and ocean tipping points.

Future Horizons:

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5-yearhorizon

Widespread monitoring becomes possible

The increasing availability of inexpensive sensors and related technology for use in the ocean will make widespread ocean monitoring more viable.

10-yearhorizon

Robots begin to gather ocean data

Deployment of autonomous research craft and robots closes the gap between the rapid changes occurring in the ocean and our limited gathering of fundamental marine data, becoming a key driver in the development of deep-sea science and modelling.22,23

25-yearhorizon

Global hydrosphere models inform policymaking

Advanced machine learning models, combined with huge amounts of incoming data, allow the entire planet’s hydrosphere to be dynamically modelled rather than its various aspects being dealt with in research silos. This enables enlightened policymaking through accurate predictions of future ocean scenarios.

Improved Ocean Observation - Anticipation Scores

How the experts see this field in terms of the expected time to maturity, transformational effect across science and industries, current state of awareness among stakeholders and its possible impact on people, society and the planet. See methodology for more information.

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