Good, Better, and Best

News of Practices of Ocean Observing & Applications

Issue 41: February 2022
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Editor's Note

It's a bit too late in the year to say 'Happy New Year', and for many of us 2022 didn't exactly start things off on the right foot! Nonetheless, we hope you all had a restful and relaxing break, however long that may have been.

There are heaps of updates in this issue, including a summary of the annual OBPS Steering Group Meeting, the debut of an exciting best practices training series, and feature articles that showcase continuing efforts to engage the global community in the application of ocean best practices.

I hope you enjoy this issue of our news flash (read below if you’re confused about that name)!

~ Rachel Przeslawski

Steering Group Updates

Goodbye Newsletter, Hello News Flash

We will now be referring to our ‘newsletter’ as a ‘news flash’. The content will be similar to what we previously had, and the title will remain Good Better Best, but the new term reflects a more modern approach to news delivery. Bear with the editors as we inevitably forget about this name change several times over the next few issues!

Stakeholder Community Forum

OBPS is a service organization, supporting ocean research and applications activities that are so important for understanding effective sustainability of our ocean ecosystems. Since our start, we have held workshops and engaged in outreach to listen to your needs. With the use of best practices expanding, our Steering Group looked for a way to maintain an active community engagement and recently approved a Stakeholder Community Forum (SCF). The SCF is open to anyone who is interested in contributing to or providing guidance to the OBPS. This is the way we would like to receive your innovative ideas and your requirements.

The SCF will be hosted in the Ocean Decade Global Stakeholder Forum (ODGSF) as the Ocean Practices Community of Practice (COP). This will be available later this month as the implementation details are finalized. To join the Ocean Practices COP, you will need to register first with the ODGSF.  Details on how to access the COP will be mailed to our subscribers soon. We hope you will join us.

Journal Updates

In November and December 2021 seven manuscripts have been published to our Frontiers of Science research theme on Best Practices in Ocean Observing, including

  • Three reviews, one by McMahon et al. summarizes the evolution and status of the emerging observational network AniBOS, one by Jakobsson and Mayer summarizing the status on Polar Region Bathymetry, and one by Zielinski et al. introducing the Spiekeroog Coastal Observatory in the North Sea. 

  • A technology and code paper by von Oppeln-Bromikowski et al. was published on an ocean glider navigation system. 

  • Two methods papers were published: one by Liggins et al. on the Ira Moana Project and the one by Jiang et al. on a community agreed harmonization of data standards for chemical measurements. 

  • One original research article by Fischer et al. was published on the impacts of devices and sampling for the interpretation of long term data records.

Our research theme now shows more than 208,000 views! Consider submitting your own article to our theme and sharing your work with the international community.

From the Repository - OPBS Returns to the Path of Growth
Cristian Muñoz Mas 

In 2020, COVID-19 had a significant impact in the economies worldwide. The ocean observing community wasn’t exempt of such impact, and neither was the Ocean Best Practices System (OBPS).

Through our monthly collected metrics, we have been able to appreciate the pandemic effects over the OBPS, where the number of visitors and their activity in the Repository reached its minimum in December 2020. In 2021, the activity returned to the same average levels than before the pandemic and also set a new increase on the number of visitors and their activity.
We don’t know yet which were the main causes for this recovery, but we hope that it was influenced by our continuous work and service to the ocean observing community.

OBPS offers nowadays a permanent access to more than 1500 methodologies that are being downloaded from more than 15000 users from 150 different countries. The main preferred topics are still ‘harmful algal blooms’ and ‘sea level’. We encourage everyone to explore your own favourite topics in our growing collection here: 

Success Story - First Module of Ocean Best Practices Course is Out!
Ana Lara-Lopez and Claudia Delgado

The OBPS team is putting together an online course about ocean best practices and the Ocean Best Practices System (OBPS) Repository. The course will introduce the concept of best practices and the OBPS. You will learn why it is important to document your methods and what are the necessary steps to elevate methods to a best practice. You will have an overview about the importance and relevance of using and sharing ocean best practices and standards in an open and FAIR way. You will also understand and learn how to create a best practice and how to submit, share and search for methods and best practices in the OBPS repository.

The course is composed of four modules, and the first module What is a best practice is now available. In this module, Professor Juliet Hermes introduces the concept of best practices and the Ocean Best Practices System (OBPS). She also discusses the steps needed to get your best practice endorsed by the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS). The remaining 3 modules will be released in the coming months, and we’ll announce them here!

If you are interested in learning about Ocean Best Practices go to IOC’s OceanTeacher e-Learning Platform. You will need to register (in case you do not have an account on OceanTeacher) to have access to the OBPS course. We hope you enjoy the course!



A Collaborative Effort to Develop Effective Decisions Trees

Katie Watkins-Brandt, Laura Riihimaki, and Jay Pearlman

During the past two OBPS workshops, participants of various working groups have demonstrated interest in the development of decision trees which may integrate into or coincide with best practice documents. Decision trees are useful tools for users to quickly reference which practice to choose in various situations, such as when power limitations exist (gliders or floats) or when sensors need maintenance. Currently, no clear guidance exists on how to design a decision tree to be effective in selecting applicable best practices, and the process will vary based on the purpose or application of the tree. For example, a group of like-minded marine technicians, scientists, and data managers in the U.S. have been working on an initiative to develop best practices related to sea-going operations on research vessels. As part of this effort, they are working toward establishing time-based decision trees that allow a technician to identify priorities for maintenance of a particular sensor based on their availability. Additionally, the Observing Air-Sea Interaction Strategy (OASIS) best practices and interoperability theme team has identified decision trees as a way they would like to communicate best practices related to measurements of high-priority air-sea interactions, starting with surface radiation. Those are just two examples of how decision trees may be developed and used based on purpose or application. 

Given this is a topic of interest to much of the community, we’d like to encourage active working groups to discuss decision trees at their upcoming meetings in preparation for a session focusing on the topic at the next OBPS workshop later this year. We encourage you to use the decision tree below to initiate the conversation with your working groups and develop outcomes from those discussions that can be reported at the OBPS workshop decision tree session. 

Over the next year, our goal is to establish a task team made up of representatives across the various working groups, as well as social scientists and subject matter experts, to work toward development of best practices for decision trees as well as templates that can be utilized based on purpose or application. If you are interested in participating in this initiative, we welcome all, and look forward to forming a team comprised of representatives from the diverse disciplines of ocean sciences and operations.
Please contact Katie Watkins-Brandt if you are interested in joining our efforts, have any questions, comments, or would like additional information. 

Coastal Observing in Under-Resourced Countries

Sian Seymour, Jethan d’Hotman, Lucie Cocquempot

A fundamental issue faced by many countries and institutes is the access to equipment and expertise to properly observe and monitor the coastal ocean. These issues are compounded by the lack of standard operating procedures or best practices in conjunction with a common misconception that high-end equipment and facilities are needed.
In an attempt to tackle these issues, an OBPS task team has been set up (TT22-01). Over the next 18 months, this task team aims to identify common and accepted best practices already used within the community for observations of physical, chemical and biological parameters of the coastal ocean, with a focus on the African continent. Identifying these practices will ultimately result in a package that is affordable to under-resourced countries, easily transportable, easy to use (i.e. can be taught to undergraduate students) and widely applicable (e.g. can be operated from a small coastal craft). The package should also require no more than a bench space and minimal supporting infrastructure.
This task team will be led by Lucie Cocquempot, coordinator of observation networks within French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (Ifremer) and co-chair of the EuroGOOS Scientific Advisory Board; and Jethan d’Hotman, a marine technician at the South African Environmental Observation Networks coastal node.
Not only will many under-resourced institutes and countries benefit from the outcomes of this task team, but in the long run the greater ocean observing community as a whole will benefit from increased knowledge, expertise and improved monitoring and observing methods of the world’s coastal oceans.
The process will be highly collaborative. The first three months are dedicated to an Assessment of existing standard operating procedures and best practices for coastal environments. If you have any further questions or wish to actively contribute to this work  (sharing bibliographic references, ongoing projects, or any other resources), please send an email to

Click here for access to more information on the Task Team, including a more detailed outline of tasks, deliverables and timeline. 

Image from France Floch, UBO, France

Image of the Month
Katie Watkins-Brandt and Laura Riihimaki
This photo was taken in 2016 during the deployment of a buoy by Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) technicians and R/V Atlantis crew on the Newport line off the coast of Oregon. An effort is currently underway by the OASIS (Observing Air-Sea Interactions Strategy) best practices and interoperability theme team to develop best practices of surface radiation measurements for deployments on all ocean-based platforms including ships, buoys, Uncrewed Surface Vehicles (USV), and drifters. 

Please send us your Image-of-the-Month along with a short descriptive paragraph to
Other News

Schmidt Ocean Institute High Performance Computing Support

Schmidt Ocean Institute are seeking project ideas that harness the potential of their  high-performance computer (HPC) (details provided here) to support pioneering ocean research and data science projects. Successful proposals will demonstrate a cogent plan to maximize the HPC, a team capable of meeting the technical goals, and a research question in line with the Strategic Framework of the Foundation. Proposals will be accepted beginning Friday, January 14, 2022 and then on an ongoing basis until the computing power of the HPC is fully utilized. To express interest in this opportunity:

To express interest in this opportunity, please respond to with a maximum of two pages proposal of the work to be deployed on the HPC, written in English, with body text typed in single-spaced 12 point font.  Schmidt Ocean Institute staff will review the received proposals and may schedule a call with you to discuss your plans in further detail. Proposals will be accepted on an ongoing basis until the compute power of the HPC is fully utilized. 

Best Practices and Standards in the Arctic

The European Commission-sponsored CAPARDUS Project is addressing the impacts of Arctic practices. Documented practices improve knowledge sharing across the Arctic. As Arctic observing grows, Arctic practices support scaling of observing systems and consistency in quality of data. Arctic practices support the definition and collection of Shared Arctic Variables (SAVs) envisioned under SAON’s Roadmap for Arctic Observations and Data Systems (ROADS) [Starkweather, et al 2020]. It is expected that the SAV development will follow the patterns of the Essential Climate Variables and the Essential Ocean Variables developments. Discussion on these and similar topics will be taking place at the Arctic Observing Summit 2022 at the end of March in Norway. Virtual access is likely to be available for participants.

Frontiers in Ocean Observing Supplement 

Oceanography, the official magazine of The Oceanography Society, published its inaugural supplement on ocean observing, entitled "Frontiers in Ocean Observing: Documenting Ecosystems, Understanding Environmental Changes, Forecasting Hazards." Articles in this collection describe new technologies and reveal some exciting results that advance our understanding of the world ocean and its resources and support its sustainable use and management. You can access the whole collection here.

Questionnaire on Prioritising Ocean Observations

This is a consultation on prioritising the ocean observations important to the UK, and internationally. The National Oceanography Centre (NOC) is leading the consultation on behalf of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). To ensure objectivity, impartiality, and to capture a broad spectrum of views from across the UK marine science community, the open consultation will rely on documented evidence and best practice, from the UK and across the international community. Please complete the questionnaire here.

Poet's Corner 

The Ocean’s Song

Victor Hugo
O Ocean vast! We heard thy song with wonder,
Whilst waves marked time.
"Appear, O Truth!" thou sang'st with tone of thunder,
"And shine sublime!
Meeting Summary - Annual OBPS Steering Group Meeting
Pauline Simpson

During 2021, the Ocean Best Practices System (OBPS) increased engagement with diverse marine observation, data management and application communities. The system continues to mature with over 1500 methodologies in the repository which now includes documents in non-English languages, and in multimedia formats.  
The third Annual Meeting of the Ocean Best Practices System (OBPS) Steering Group took place online between 7-9 December 2021 with sessions timed 09.00-17.00 CET.  Despite COVID-19 limitations during the year, some important achievements were highlighted:
  • OBPS received UN Ocean Decade endorsement for its ‘Ocean Practices for the Decade’ programme  (short title “OceanPractices”) and is putting structures in place within OBPS to run the programme.
  • The OBPS Steering Group approved a new Stakeholder Community Forum (SCF)  as a two-way channel for open discussion/chat.
  •  OBPS is working on broader engagement with the Ocean Community including ECOP using a 2021 created structure called “Task Teams”. Some proposals were made for 2022 task teams among them: Decision Trees (see Feature article below) ; Capacity Development in a region, using  IOCARIBE as the pilot region.  (IOCARIBE-OBPS-OTGA-IOC) and Standards.   More information on the most recent task team approved is in this issue.
  • Training and capacity development is an increasingly important OBPS effort. We are actively soliciting training materials for OBPS and have produced the first of 4 Training Modules on OBPS
  • The successful 2021 Workshop reported 670 registrations and triggered discussion on the format and content for the 2022 annual workshop. We invite volunteers to help with organizing the 2022 workshop.
  • The Meeting recorded their appreciation of the work of Jay Pearlman and Johannes Karstensen and re-elected them as SG-OBPS Co-Chairs. 
Upcoming Events
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The Ocean Best Practice System supports the entire ocean community in sharing methods and developing best practices. We provide publication, discovery and access to relevant and tested methods, from observation to application, as well as a foundation for increasing capacity. We are working towards all observations being taken by known and adopted methodologies.

A future where there are broadly adopted methods across ocean research, operations, and applications
Copyright © 2022 UNESCO/IOC IODE, All rights reserved.

Editor: Rachel Przeslawski
Associate Editor: Virginie van Dongen-Vogels

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