ESA Call for Remote Sensing on Plastic Marine Litter Innovations and Solutions

The European Space Agency has put out a funding call for novel and innovative ideas that address the remote sensing of plastics marine litter. Primarily, they are excited about ideas based around detection, quantification and tracking of plastic litter in saltwater and freshwater systems, including shores/coasts. Ideas shall include the exploitation of at least a space asset and can address the upstream as well as the downstream segment. 


The African Conference of Blue Economy

Suez University will host its First International Conference titled the African Conference of Blue Economy to Achieve the African Agenda 2063 for Sustainable Development on 10-13 September, 2019. 

As implied, the main theme of the conference is “Blue Economy to Achieve the 2063 African Agenda,” with sub-themes focusing on Fish Wealth & Resources, Navigation and Maritime, Energy Extracted form the Marine Environment, Tourism and Marine Archaeology, Natural and Man-made risks, Impacts on Social Composition and Population Demography Along Coastal Areas, and Earth Observation Advanced Technologies and Geo-informatics Systems.

Abstracts for this conference are due 15 June 2019.

1st International Operational Satellite Oceanography Symposium

What: First International Operational Satellite Oceanography Symposium 

When: 18 to 20 June, 2019

Where: College Park, MD, USA 

About: Satellite remote sensing of ocean properties is a technology of continuously increasing maturity and scope. Sea surface temperature, sea
surface height, ocean color, sea ice, ocean winds, roughness-derived parameters (e.g., oil spills) and other measurements are now available on
a routine and sustainable basis. Some of these products are integral to operational applications for routine and event-driven environmental
assessments, predictions, forecasts and management. Yet ocean satellite data are still underutilized and have a huge potential for contributing
further to societal needs and the “blue economy”.

The First Operational Satellite Oceanography Symposium aims to enable the understanding the barriers (perceived or actual) and facilitate the
widespread incorporation of satellite ocean observations into the value chain from data to useful information across the range of operational
applications. In this symposium, an international community of satellite operators, information producers and users will exchange facts and ideas
to 1) understand user needs and expectations, and 2) develop interoperability standards and establish best practices that will lead to more universal use of ocean satellite data. Training sessions to facilitate use of satellite data products will be offered.

Abstract Submission Deadline Update: April 12, 2019

Request for Contributions to the GEO Blue Planet Secretariat

The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Blue Planet invites government agencies, research institutions and NGOs to submit an expression of interest to host a Secretariat node or provide resources (secondments or funding for staff/fellows) to the GEO Blue Planet Secretariat’s principal office.

Submission deadline: February 28, 2019

About Blue Planet

We live on a Blue Planet, and Earth’s waters benefit many sectors of society. The future of our Blue Planet is increasingly reliant on the services delivered by marine and coastal waters. Maintenance of these services relies on the advancement of effective, evidence-based decisions for sustainable development.

GEO Blue Planet’s mission is to advance and exploit synergies among the many observational programmes devoted to ocean and coastal waters; to improve engagement with a variety of users for enhancing the timeliness, quality and range of services delivered; and to raise awareness of the societal benefits of ocean observations at the public and policy levels.

We do this by promoting collection of continuous ocean and coastal observations, processing of data into information and linking this information with societal needs. The societal needs feed back into ocean and coastal observation requirements and enhancement or modification of the ocean observation strategy. This requires close working relationships between scientists who collect ocean and coastal observations, those who take these observations and extract information as well as forecast future conditions, and those who use the information and forecasts in the management of our living planet.

GEO Blue Planet is a network of ocean and coastal-observers, social scientists and end-user representatives from a variety of stakeholder groups, including international and regional organizations, NGOs, national institutes, universities and government agencies. Our experts have a demonstrated capacity to bridge the gap between data and services to deliver usable information that supports informed decision-making toward reaching sustainable development.

About the Secretariat

The GEO Blue Planet Secretariat provides scientific and logistical support for GEO Blue Planet activities. The Secretariat will also provide coordination support for activities and develop partnerships. The GEO Blue Planet Secretariat reports to the Steering Committee Co-chairs.

The principal office is currently hosted by the Cooperative Institute of Climate and Satellites-Maryland (CICS-MD) in partnership with NOAA in College Park, MD, USA. The overall Director of the secretariat is based at the principle office. A European Secretariat node is under development to be hosted at Mercator Ocean in Toulouse, France.

In order to effectively support coordination of relevant activities in other regions and to support global coordination and development of thematic activities (e.g., marine biodiversity monitoring), GEO Blue Planet invites government agencies, research institutions and NGOs to submit an expression of interest to host a regional or thematic node of the secretariat. Offers of resource support for the principle secretariat office (secondments or funding support) are also welcome. 

Secretariat nodes can be regional, thematic or a combination of regional and thematic. Thematic nodes should align with one of GEO Blue Planet’s ten thematic areas:

Duties of the Principal Secretariat Office and Secretariat Nodes

The duties of the principal secretariat office are:

  • To provide overall support and coordination to the GEO Blue Planet network
  • To support and mange GEO Blue Planet activities as required
  • To provide direction and leadership for the regional and thematic secretariat nodes
  • To support the Steering Committee in the coordination of GEO Blue Planet deliverables
  • To provide logistical support to the Advisory Board
  • To promote GEO Blue Planet in the international arena
  • To interface with and report to the GEO Secretariat on behalf of GEO Blue Planet
  • To support the organisation of GEO Blue Planet Symposiums
  • To manage the GEO Blue Planet website, social media and other communications.

The duties of the regional secretariat nodes are:

  • To connect GEO Blue Planet with relevant ongoing regional activities
  • To provide technical /or administrative support to the principal secretariat office
  • To coordinate regional GEO Blue Planet activities
  • To coordinate with and support regional GEO entities and associated activities related to oceans and coasts (e.g., AOGEOSS Oceans, Coasts and Islands task)

The duties of the thematic secretariat nodes are:

  • To connect GEO Blue Planet with relevant ongoing activities related to the nodes' thematic area
  • To provide technical/or administrative support to the principal secretariat office
  • To develop and support GEO Blue Planet activities related to the nodes' thematic area
  • To coordinate with and support thematic GEO activates related to the nodes' thematic area (e.g., GEO BON/MBON)

Expressions of interest for nodes that cover the duties of a regional and thematic node are particularly welcome

Requirements to host a regional secretariat node

A host agency, institution or organization is expected to provide:

  • Salary and travel funds for at least one full time staff member or fellow.
  • Office space and supplies.
  • Strong ties to regional activities related to:
    • ocean and coastal observations data and products;
    • stakeholder engagement and societal awareness; and
    • capacity building.
  • Ability to support technology transfer of relevant activities and the development of new ocean and coastal information services.
  • Support to the principal secretariat office by means of:
    • supporting communication efforts,
    • supplying travel funds for developing country participants to attend GEO Blue Planet workshops and symposiums,
    • data management and visualization services,
    • website management, and
    • other administrative support.

Requirements to host a thematic node

A host agency, institution or organization is expected to provide:

  • Salary and travel funds for at least one full time staff member.
  • Office space and supplies.
  • Strong ties to activities related to the proposed thematic focus area.
  • Operate in English when communicating with the principle secretariat office and international partners.
  • Support to the principle secretariat office by means of:
    • supporting communication efforts,
    • data management and visualization services,
    • website management, and
    • other administrative support.

The marine science community has been very successful in coordinating activities at global scales. Notable drivers of this have been IOC and SCOR, and also programmes such as the Census of Marine Life that established the Ocean Biogeographic Information system (OBIS). Marine biodiversity scientists are represented by the International Association of Biological Oceanography that holds a triennial world conference. SCOR, IABO and IOC are over 50 years old. Recently, the community has established a quality assured online checklist or all marine species (the World Register of Marine Species, WoRMS), and OBIS publishes tens of millions of species distribution records and associated information online. Satellites, ARGO floats and other new technologies are sampling the oceans at unprecedented scales. However, what remains to be operational is a globally coordinated network of standardized field observations across all the components of marine biodiversity. This needs to represent all the major kinds of organisms, depth zones, and habitats, from pelagic plankton and nekton to benthos, coastal and deep, polar to tropical seas. The data need to be rapidly published into OBIS to facilitate early detection of trends from local to regional and global scales.

The Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON) is a thematic network of the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Network (GEO BON) and a thematic node of GEO Blue Planet. MBON fosters the development and implementation of a global community of practice that studies trends in marine biodiversity from local to global scales. This includes research that develops field and laboratory methods, data analyses, and communication of information to policy makers.

The MBON Secretariat node would function as a thematic node of the GEO BON Secretariat and the GEO Blue Planet Secretariat. Duties would include: 

  • Supporting the MBON Steering Group Co-Chairs in development of agenda, meeting reports, managing MBON documentation (including Strategic Plans), reporting to GEO BON, arranging teleconference and face-to-face meetings, and managing communications to the community (including website, email lists, and social media);
  • Coordinating with the principal Secretariat offices of GEO BON and GEO Blue Planet   
  • Liaising with MBON related initiatives, including the MBON Pole to Pole, IOC (IOCCP, GOOS, OBIS, IGMETS), SCOR, IABO, the Integrated Marine Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research (IMBER) program, Future Earth, MarineGEO, CPR, RLS, AP BON, to ensure a synergy of effort;
  • Manage MBON funding in accordance with good governance practices of transparency and declaration of conflicts of interest, and audit requirements of the host organisation;
  • Develop relationships and synergies within the MBON community, with the long-term aim of having activities monitoring representative elements of marine biodiversity, from populations to ecosystems, from local to global scales. This would include reaching out to scientists to encourage them to establish specialists activities that contribute to MBON, and endorsing and supporting activities as contributing to MBON, including writing letters of support for funding applications.
  • The MBON node will support at least an Executive Secretary and assistant, communication costs, and ideally senior and early-career scientists. It would have a budget to cover their travel to meetings, and ideally an additional budget to fund steering committee nominated persons to attend key meetings.

Selection Criteria

Selection will be based on:

  • Potential for creating and maintaining linkages that support GEO Blue Planet’s mission.
  • Ability to support to dedicated staff time (preferably a dedicated full time staff member) and travel for at least one year.
  • Proposed support to the principal secretariat office.
  • Ability to supply travel funds for developing country participants to attend relevant workshops and symposiums.

Submit an expression of interest

Expressions of interest should be submitted through the online form by February 28, 2019. A PDF with the submission questions is available for reference here

Scoping Meeting of the Water-associated Diseases Working Group

A scoping meeting, funded by POGO, for the GEO Blue Planet Working Group on “Earth Observations for Ecology and Epidemiology of Water-associated Diseases” has led to the establishment of a core group of scientists with common interests in water-associated diseases, with expertise and interest in microbiology, genetics, epidemiology of infectious diseases, remote sensing and epidemic modelling, as a basis for international collaboration on public health issues related to water quality.

Some 18 participants from Argentina, Brazil, India, Japan, South Africa, UK, and USA participated in the meeting, either in person, or remotely, via teleconference tools. Some POGO institutions, viz. Plymouth Marine Laboratory (UK), Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (Japan), and National Institute of Oceanography (India), were represented. In addition, National Institute for Fisheries Research and Development, (Argentina), Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (Brazil), Nansen Environmental Research Centre (India), Graduate School of Advanced Integrated Studies in Human Survivability Kyoto University (Japan), Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (UK), Reading University (UK), Wellcome Sanger Institute (UK), London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (UK), University of Maryland (USA) and West Virginia University (USA) were also represented. Several invitees were unable to attend, but expressed interest in staying engaged with the working group.

The meeting was organised over two days on 30-31 August 2018 in Abingdon, UK. It was structured around a series of presentations followed by discussion sessions. All participants introduced their research interests and put forward ideas on what they hoped to see as outcomes from the scoping meeting, and their aspirations for the proposed working group.

The presentations covered various geographic regions (e.g., the Baltic Sea, India and Bangladesh, the Yemen, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, South Africa, Europe). Various disease transmission routes (person-to-person, via contaminated water, via contaminated seafood and fish) and the roles of environmental conditions and transport mechanisms were discussed. Several models for predicting and understanding the dynamics of Vibrio bacteria in the aquatic environment were examined. The recent success story of predicting areas of high risks for cholera outbreaks in the Yemen, followed by targeted preventive measures in the field, leading to a dramatic reduction in cases of infection, was presented. It was shown that molecular analyses revealed the connectivity between cholera pandemics at the global scale. Methods for studying the ecology of Vibrio bacteria and other organisms responsible for water-associated diseases (such as cholera and malaria) were discussed, ranging from molecular techniques, bioinformatics and microbiology to remote sensing and modelling.
There was a high degree of consensus in the presentations, with participants highlighting many common aspirations, including: the importance of building personal contacts across the community; the need for bringing together different scientific disciplines (microbiology, molecular biology, oceanography, hydrology, epidemiology, remote sensing, mathematical modelling, climate sciences, and social sciences); the importance of engaging with the general public, policy makers and health professionals; and the value of co-ordination, collaboration and sharing of information.

Based on the scoping meeting presentations and discussions, a suite of recommendations and activities was proposed to support and develop interdisciplinary collaborations, and to facilitate the incorporation of EO measurements into early-warning systems for water-associated diseases.

4th Blue Planet Symposium Report Now Available

4th GEO Blue Planet Symposium was held from July 4 – 6, 2018 in Toulouse, France. The symposium was hosted by Mercator Ocean, member of the GEO Blue Planet Initiative and entrusted by the European Commission to operate the EU Copernicus Marine Service.

The symposium was the first GEO Blue Planet symposium in Toulouse and served as a forum for discussion of ocean and coastal information needs for sustainable development, Blue Growth and societal awareness. A total of 300 delegates attended the symposium from international organisations and networks, research scientists, government agencies, various industries, ocean science communicators and graduate students. 

Symposium Report 


For more information about the symposium - click here 

Sargassum and Oil Spill Workshop Report Available

GEO Blue Planet was a co-organizer of a workshop in Mexico City that focused on the development of an integrated and user friendly monitoring and forecasting system for sargassum and oil spills in the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions. GEO Blue Planet is working with IOCARIBE of IOC UNESCO, workshop participants, and other stakeholders in the region to develop an implementation plan for the workshop. For additional information – see the workshop report. 

Marine Biodiversity Workshop: from the Sea to the Cloud

Twenty-five researchers from the Americas have been selected to participate in a five-day training program offered by the Pole to Pole Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON) of the Americas (P2P) and AmeriGEOSS. The workshop includes marine scientists working on coastal ecology from pole to pole. The program will focus on marine biodiversity activities in the field and behind the computer; it promotes a community of best practices and data sharing. Specifically, the activities will be to:

  • Collect field data across multiple habitats: rocky intertidal and sandy beaches habitats;
  • Manipulate tabular and spatial data for standardized data formats, such as Darwin Core, while controlling for quality;
  • Publish datasets to the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) using tools for sharing data;
  • Train on data science tools (R, Rmarkdown, Github) to mine data, conduct discovery and analysis, and produce reproducible research documents with interactive visualizations onto the web.
  • Illustrate the process of submitting and editing Best Practices (field methods, analyses, metadata) of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Ocean Best Practices (Ocean Best Practices Repository:


This workshop is a foundational step in the implementation of the P2P network. Participants will develop standard protocols for field data collection, data formatting and publishing, following international standards (e.g. Darwin Core – DwC). The ultimate goal is to develop a network that helps nations and regions to improve conservation planning and environmental impact mitigation, serve the scientific community, and satisfy commitments to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), Aichi Targets of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD), and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) by:

  • enhancing coordination of data collection among nations;
  • improving the collection of harmonized data, developing data standards and methodologies for data management and dissemination without compromising national concerns (i.e., use and contribute to Best Practices for the measurement and curation of Essential Ocean Variables and Essential Biodiversity Variables);
  • integrating biodiversity information with physical and chemical data over time (status and trends);
  • and generating products needed for informed management of the ocean.

This activity will train participants from 10 countries in the America, from Canada to Patagonia, in methodological approaches for assessing biodiversity of rocky intertidal areas and sandy beaches, collecting environmental data that allow to evaluate drivers of biodiversity change in these habitats. This effort also seeks to enhance capacity in geospatial data analysis and visualization using R software, and data formatting and sharing via the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). Instructors facilitating training efforts in these various topics include:

Enrique Montes (USA; P2P lead at USF)

Gil Rilov (Israel; National Institute of Oceanography)

Antonio Marques (Brazil; CEBIMar)

Augusto Flores (Brazil; CEBIMar)

Maikon Di Domenico (Brazil; Universidade Federal do Paraná)

Patricia Miloslavich (Australia; U. Tasmania / GOOS)

Eduardo Klein (OBIS)

Frank Muller-Karger (USA; USF)

Emmett Duffy (USA; Smithsonian I.)

Ben Best (USA; EcoQuants)

Fernando Lima (Portugal; University of Porto)

Brian Helmuth (USA; Northeastern University)

The P2P workshop is supported by NASA and will be hosted by the Center for Marine Biology (CEBIMar) of the University of Sao Paulo in Praia do Segredo, São Sebastião, São Paulo, Brazil. Workshop details can be found at

Forecasting Flooding on Coral Reef–Lined Coasts

The GEO Blue Planet Initiative has welcomed a new working group on Understanding Flooding on Reef-lined Island Coasts. The working group was established at a February workshop in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The workshop was organised by personnel from NOAA, the USGS (United States), CSIRO (Australia) and Deltares (Netherlands).

Click here for additional information about the outcomes of the workshop.