The Global Ocean Observing System Center (GOOSC) at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory operates two global observing networks, a drifting buoy array, and a Voluntary Observing Ship network. The arrays provide in real time surface atmospheric and subsurface oceanographic data needed by NOAA weather and climate forecasters. The data are used in delayed mode to verify model simulations of the ocean and atmosphere, to provide in situ calibration/validation data for remote sensing observations, and to increase understanding of the dynamics of the ocean and atmosphere. The operational and research lessons learned in the operation of the GOOSC are reviewed. Operationally, it was learned that, because of costs, international participation is required to maintain global networks; data management methodology is a critical component of operations; and integrated observing systems using multiple platforms provide more accurate products. Scientifically, it was learned, for example, that accurate characterizations of the salinity field must be available in model simulations. As more data become available it is found that scales of important phenomena such as equatorial upwelling are smaller, and high-frequency signals can impact on the mean structure of the upper ocean. These findings must be considered when designing effective sampling strategies.

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