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Worth D. Nowlin Jr.
Melbourne Briscoe
Neville Smith
Michael J. McPhaden
Dean Roemmich
Piers Chapman
, and
J. Frederick Grassle

The Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) was initiated in the early 1990s with sponsorship by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, the International Council for Science, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the World Meteorological Organization. Its objective is to design and assist with the implementation of a sustained, integrated, multidisciplinary ocean observing system focused on the production and delivery of data and products to a wide variety of users. The initial design for the GOOS is nearing completion, and implementation has begun.

The initial task in developing a sustained observing system is to identify the requirements of users for sustained data and products. Once such needs are known, the next task is to examine observing system elements that already exist; many necessary elements will be found to exist. The next tasks are to identify and integrate the useful elements into an efficient and effective system, while removing the unneeded elements, and to develop and implement effective data management activities. Moreover, the system must be augmented with new elements because some requirements cannot be met with existing elements and because of technological advances.

Our key objective is to discuss the mechanism whereby new candidate observing system elements are transformed from development status into elements of the sustained system. Candidate systems normally will pass through many different phases on the path from idea and concept to a mature, robust technique. These stages are discussed and examples are given:

  1. Development of an observational/analysis technique within the ocean community.

  2. Community acceptance of the methodology gained through experience within pilot projects to demonstrate the utility of the methods and data.

  3. Pre-operational use of the methods and data by researchers, application groups, and other end users, to ensure proper integration within the global system and to ensure that the intended augmentation (and perhaps phased withdrawal of an old technique) does not have any negative impact on the integrity of the GOOS data set and its dependent products.

  4. Incorporation of the methods and data into an operational framework with sustained support and sustained use to meet societal objectives.

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