26-27 April 2006
Ocean Springs, MS

The first annual meeting of the GCOOS Observing Systems Committee was held at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, MS, on 26-27 April 2006. Dr. Sharon Walker, Director of the J.L. Scott Marine Education Center and Aquarium, hosted the meeting. Attendees, their affiliations, and their GCOOS roles are given in Appendix A. The agenda for the meeting is given in Appendix B.

1.0   Opening of Meeting

1.1   Welcome, introductions, and logistics

The Observing Systems Committee met in plenary session with the Products and Services Committee and the Data Management and Communications Committee during the morning of 26 April 2006. Ann Jochens, GCOOS Regional Coordinator, welcomed the participants, introduced the Board members present, and explained logistics for the meeting. Participants then introduced themselves to the group.

1.2   Objectives of the meetings

Ray Toll, Chair of the GCOOS Board of Directors, gave a brief introduction and an overview of the purpose of the meeting. One major purpose of the meeting was to provide committee members with an overview of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) that constitutes the U.S. implementation of GOOS, and the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) and the GCOOS Regional Association (GCOOS-RA). The second major purpose was to organize each Committee, including election of the Committee Chair, development of its action plan for the coming year, and set up of its methods for conducting its work and its interactions with the other GCOOS-RA Committees and Councils and Board.

2.0   Overviews of the Observing Systems

2.1   Overview of GOOS and the U.S. IOOS

Worth Nowlin gave a presentation reviewing the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), with a focus on the National Backbone. Questions and discussion followed. In the discussion, Nowlin mentioned that the global component of GOOS was working well, but that the coastal component of IOOS needed sharper planning before it would be likely to receive substantial funding.

2.2   Overview of GCOOS

Jan van Smirren, GCOOS Board member, presented an overview of GCOOS. It was suggested that a list of acronyms should be developed. Discussion centered on the relationship of GCOOS with the Gulf of Mexico Alliance. As a coordinated effort by the Governors of the five Gulf states, the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) plays a prominent role in the broad community of stakeholders in the GCOOS. Within the range of activities that will help realize the seven societal goals of the IOOS, the GOMA has identified five priority topics for the Gulf of Mexico. Ties are being developed between GOMA and GCOOS to ensure that these topics are being adequately addressed.

2.3   Synopsis of GCOOS workshops

Ann Jochens then gave a synopsis of the eight past GCOOS workshops and plans for future targeted sector workshops. Some of the past workshops and these future workshops are intended to develop prioritized measurements and products thought to be needed by specific private sector stakeholders, to provide estimates of economic benefits of such measurements or products to the sector, and to provide suggestions of pilot projects that might lead to new priority measurements and products.

2.4   The roles of the private sector in GCOOS—a personal perspective

Finally, Nowlin gave a presentation on his views of the roles of the private sector in GCOOS.

3.0   Observing Systems Committee Working Session

The plenary session was followed by break-out sessions for each committee. This document constitutes the minutes of the Observing Systems Committee (OSC). There are separate minutes for the Products and Services Committee (PSC) and the Data Management and Communications Committee (DMAC). Interactions are planned with the Education and Outreach Council (EOC), which had met 24-25 April 2006.

During its working session, the Committee extensively discussed its responsibilities and how those responsibilities meshed with the responsibilities of the other committees and councils of GCOOS and with the development of standards and protocols by national groups. After these discussions, the members unanimously elected Stephan Howden as Chair. They then began to develop recommendations regarding the OSC Terms of Reference, the Action Plan for the coming year, the outline for the GCOOS Observing System Plan, membership issues, and mechanisms for communications.

3.1   Terms of Reference Interpretation and Suggested Revisions

The OSC reviewed its Terms of Reference (Appendix C). It determined a number of clarifications would be helpful to defining its duties. Each sentence of the Terms of Reference was considered (given in italics in the numbered lines below). These are given below together with the general comments of the Committee and recommended changes (bold are additions, strike-through are deletions).

  1. The Observing Systems Committee will be established to aid in the technical and scientific development of GCOOS observations.
  2. Comment: No change is required. The Observing Systems Committee interprets this to mean the Committee can recommend whatever it believes appropriate for the GCOOS observing systems.
     

  3. The Committee will be responsible for the recommendation development of standards, QA/QC procedures, and observing system architecture, the consideration of and recommendations on technology improvements necessary to meet present and future user needs, and the development of requirements for scientific research and pilot projects.
  4. Comment: GCOOS should look to the national standards that are or will be developed. Thus for GCOOS operational observations, the national standards generally will provide the minimum GCOOS standard. This does not prevent GCOOS from including observations that are not to those standards, so long as this is noted appropriately. For example, GCOOS might include a station that collects data with less frequent sampling or less accurate measurements than the standards, but which data are used for middle school education purposes where computer systems and internet access may be limited.
     

  5. The Committee will be composed of experts in the various fields of ocean observing systems such as biological, physical, geological, and chemical oceanography, hydrography, fish and shellfish, seabirds, marine mammals, atmospheric science, remote sensing, fisheries technology, and aquaculture and mariculture.
  6. Comment: Additions are for completeness.
     

  7. The Observing Systems Committee also is responsible for recommending to the Board annual updates to the business plan for observational issues associated with the GCOOS.
  8. Comment: The fundamental document developed by the Observing Systems Committee for the business plan will be the Observing System Plan. This key role of the Observing System Committee should be acknowledged specifically in the Business Plan.
     

  9. Members will be appointed by the Board of Directors and the chair will be elected by the members of the Committee.
  10. Comment: No changes needed.
     

  11. The Committee can use targeted workshops and establish working groups to develop its scientific and technical advice.
  12. Comment: No changes needed. The Committee will constitute working groups, subcommittees, and/or targeted workshops as the need arises.
     

3.1   Action Plan for May 2006–April 2007

The Committee discussed the list of tasks provided in the agenda (Appendix B). They then decided on eight work tasks for the coming year. They also determined a team leader and a timeline for the tasks. The OSC Action Plan for May 2006 through April 2007 is:

  1. Review OSC Terms of Reference—make suggestions for changes; prepare companion document to the TOR giving OSC interpretation and specific details.
    Timeline: June 1, 2006
    Team leader (email): Jan van Smirren
  2. Determine ways Councils & Committees will communicate and identify interdependencies; depends on Terms of Reference for the Councils & Committees
    Timeline: July 15, 2006
    Team Leader: Stephan Howden, Chair
  3. Review and provide comments on the Business Plan related to Observing Systems
    Timeline: July 15, 2006 or sooner
    Team Leader: Stephan Howden, Chair
  4. Create an outline for the GCOOS Observing System Plan, including tasks, task leaders, and timelines (see "Draft Outline of the GCOOS Observing System Plan" below).
    Timeline for draft outline to the Board of Directors: June 15, 2006
    Team leader: Stephan Howden
  5. Prepare the GCOOS Observing System Plan
    Timeline: To Be Determined
    Team leader: Stephan Howden, Chair
    Items for possible inclusion are:
    1. Inventory existing in situ observing systems in GCOOS area, including standards and QA/QC procedures use by such systems
    2. Participate in development of national observing standards and QC/QC protocols
    3. Identify ways to communicate with other entities in GCOOS (possible cross-committee membership; possible routine conference calls between committee chairs for information exchange)
    4. Identify ways the OSC would like to obtain information on stakeholder/user community needs and mechanisms by the the OSC will recommend observing system solutions to meet those needs, including gap analysis
    5. Review new/underused technology and how it can address previously identified stakeholder/user needs
    6. Identify the relationship to the National Backbone (e.g., what with NB do relative to what GCOOS does in placement of stations)
    7. Develop mechanism for tasking the National Backbone
    8. Identify observing system pilot projects (e.g., applications of new technologies)
    9. Identify and prepare selected success stories
    10. Develop recommendations to the Board of Directors and Stakeholder Council on specific priorities for observations to fill gaps (e.g., bathymetry reassessments)
    11. Develop recommendations to the Board of Directors and Stakeholder Council on applying new technologies
    12. Develop recommendations to the Board of Directors and Stakeholder Council on pilot projects
    13. Confirm real-time physical data are going to NDBC and on to GTS
  6. Recommend to the Board of Directors actions relative to the identification of historical data sets and their digital accessibility and archival
    Timeline: July 15, 2006
    Team Leader: Gary Jeffress
  7. Review and provide comments on the Operation Center pilot project
    Timeline: May 15, 2006
    Team leader (email): Jim Byous
  8. Review and update the Action Plan twice per year
    Timeline: October 2006 and April 2007
    Team leader: Stephan Howden, Chair

3.3   GCOOS Observing System Plan

The Committee began to develop the draft outline for the GCOOS Observing System Plan. The rough draft of 4/27/06 is given in Appendix D. Task leaders are identified with each of the core chapters. The responsibilities of each task leader are

  1. Determine if anything is missing from the outline
  2. Determine the timelines for completion of the section
  3. Prepare an introductory paragraph for the section to define for the Board of Directors and other readers what the section will cover
  4. Identify what resources would be needed to be able to successfully complete the section
  5. Prepare the section (date to be determined)

Items 1-4 are to be sent by 15 June 2006 to Stephan Howden, who will compile the information into a detailed outline. The Committee intends to provide the completed, detailed outline to the Board of Directors before the August meeting of that Board. The Committee will seek Board feedback on the outline before it commences the actual preparation of the GCOOS Observing System Plan.

3.4   Membership Decisions and Recommendations

Stephan Howden was elected Chair by acclamation. The Committee agreed that the tenure of the OSC chair should be 2 years. It determined that no vice-Chair was needed at this time; however, this issue will be revisited in the future if it becomes necessary. The Committee recommends hat there be no set terms for the membership, but rather that the members serve indefinitely at the pleasure of the Board of Directors.

In considering the present make-up of the Committee, the members agreed there is room for expansion. There was considerable discussion of the idea that a representative from each observing system in the region be included on the Committee. An alternative was that such representatives be in a working group. The group recommended that a fisheries representative be included on the OSC. Don Conlee will ask Walt Gandy of NOAA Fisheries for ideas for such a fisheries person for the Observing Systems Committee.

3.5   Mechanisms for OSC Communications

The Committee members decided that a mix of communications mechanisms would be best. Much of the work of the Committee would be conducted by email or through internet communications, such as a wiki. Ric Haag agreed to set up an OSC Wiki for the Committee and to have this be a repository of results. Telephone conference calls would be used when necessary; the GCOOS Office would help to set these up if requested. It was thought that face-to-face meetings should be limited. For the present, the group decided that, because the Committee is small, no subcommittees were necessary for the planned tasks.

The Committee emphasized that the OSC will need to be closely tied to the PSC and DMAC. This issue was raised at the 27 April breakfast meeting of the Chairs of the three committees. At that meeting, the three Chairs agree to conduct monthly teleconferences and concluded that they should meet in six months. They also agreed to develop a table of responsibilities for the three committees to better identify common areas of activity and allow development of synergy between the committees.

For communications with the wider ocean observing system community, the Committee recommends that OSC and PSC representatives should attend the focused sector workshops. They also recommended that OSC representatives should participate in the development of national observing standards and protocols and that representatives should attend relevant meetings. The members agreed to provide information to the Chair on such meetings as they become aware of those meetings.


Appendix A: GCOOS Observing System Committee (OSC) Meeting Attendees

26-27 April 2006
Ocean Springs, MS

Attendee Affiliation GCOOS Role Day 1 Day 2
Jim Byous Ocean Fiber, LLC Member X X
Don Conlee National Data Buoy Center, NOAA Member X X
Stephan Howden University of Southern Mississippi OSC Chair X X
Gary Jeffress Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi Member X X
Dawn Lavoie U.S. Geological Survey Member X X
Linda Lillycrop U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Member X X
Jan van Smirren Fugro GEOS Member; Board Member X X
Ric Haag Louisiana State University Representing Nan Walker X X
Ann Jochens Texas A&M University Reporter; GCOOS Regional Coordinator X X
Ray Toll Science Applications International Corp. Chair of GCOOS Board X  
 
Attendees to the Plenary Session Only
Landry Bernard National Data Buoy Center, NOAA GCOOS Membership Committee X  
Terry McPherson NASA GCOOS Membership Committee X  


Appendix B: Provisional Agenda for GCOOS Observing Systems Committee Meeting

26-27 April 2006; Ocean Springs, MS

26 April 2006

0830 Coffee and Juice
 
Plenary Session with other GCOOS Committees
0900 Welcome, Introductions, Logistics (Ann Jochens, GCOOS Regional Coordinator)
0915 Introduction and Purpose of the Meetings (Ray Toll, Chair of GCOOS-RA Board)
0930 Introduction to the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS)—with a focus on the National Backbone (Worth Nowlin, GCOOS-RA Board)
Questions and discussion
   
1000 Refreshment Break
   
1015 Overview of GCOOS (Jan van Smirren, GCOOS-RA Board)
Questions and discussion
1100 Synopsis of GCOOS workshops, results, and actions (Ann Jochens)
1130 Roles of Private Sector in GCOOS (Worth Nowlin)
   
1200 Catered Lunch
 
Observing Systems Committee Sessions (Reporter: Ann Jochens)
Interim chair, Stephan Howden, presiding
1300 Presentation of Terms of Reference and Charges to Committee—This includes suggested tasks to be worked on by the Committee (van Smirren)
Following discussion of the terms of reference given in the GCOOS-RA MoA, the following principal committee tasks will be suggested:
  • Determine the outline of a GCOOS Observing System Plan and establish a timeline and action items necessary to develop this plan. Components might include items given below.
  • Prepare a plan, with timelines, to document and audit the existing elements that are/will be part of the Gulf of Mexico ocean observing system and eventually identifies gaps between requirements and capabilities and ways to close the gaps.
  • Identify the priority areas for where standards and QA/QC procedures should be set over the next year and over the next 5 years.
  • Prepare a plan for development of standards and QA/QC procedures for the priority areas identified.
  • Identify present and, insofar as possible, future user needs for observing systems and suggest technology developments needed for those systems. Suggest methods for making the user community aware of technical developments in observing system technology that could allow effective acquisition of observations previously unavailable.
  • Suggest priorities for development of ocean observing systems in the various sectors, such as biological, physical and chemical oceanography, fish and shellfish, seabirds, marine mammals, atmospheric science, remote sensing, fisheries technology, and aquaculture and mariculture.
  • Establish working groups or identify targets workshops needed to develop the scientific and technical advice for the various ocean observing systems and identify the tasks to be accomplished by each.
  • Recommend requirements for scientific research and pilot projects.
  • Provide comments on the Pilot Operations Center.
  • Suggest to the Board the break point between the Observing Systems Committee and the Products and Services Committee, perhaps at the timely delivery of accurate and QCed data streams.
  • Identify ways the Committee would like to obtain information on stakeholder/user community needs and mechanisms by which the Committee will provide observing system solutions to meet those needs.
  • Identify mechanisms for close communications between the Committee and the other two Committees and the two Councils.
  • Establish mechanisms for close communications within the Committee itself.
  • Recommend additions to or changes in membership to provide coverage of all stakeholder/user community sectors.
  • Review and provide comments on pertinent portions of the GCOOS Business Plan.
  • Advise the Board and other GCOOS bodies regarding the technical and scientific development of GCOOS observations.
 
1345 Introduction and discussion of background materials
  • Priorities for enhancements of the national backbone and for regional enhancements and additions, or other observing system priorities, as given in the first Business Plan—needs revision
  • Priorities for products from HABSOS, Oil and Gas Industry, and IOOS Human Health workshops
  • Pilot projects now under investigation by the Board
 
1415 Election of Chair
1430 Discussion of and decisions regarding Committee’s foci and approach
   
1530 Refreshment break
   
1545

Continue meeting

1730 Adjourn for day 1
   
1800 Icebreaker at Sharon Walker’s house

27 April 2006

0700 Breakfast of committee chairs and reporters to compare notes
0830 Coffee and juice
 
0900 Committee meeting continues
 
1030 Refreshment Break
 
1045 Conclusions from the meeting
  • Summary of recommendations to Board
  • Final agreement on method of operation
  • Suggestions of membership changes
  • Other
1230 Adjourn Meeting


Appendix C: Terms of Reference Observing Systems Committee

GCOOS Memorandum of Agreement Section VI.b.9

The Observing Systems Committee will be established to aid in the technical and scientific development of GCOOS observations. The Committee will be responsible for the development of standards, QA/QC procedures, consideration of and recommendations on technology improvements necessary to meet present and future user needs, and development of requirements for scientific research and pilot projects. The Committee will be composed of experts in the various fields of ocean observing systems such as biological, physical and chemical oceanography, fish and shellfish, seabirds, marine mammals, atmospheric science, remote sensing, fisheries technology, and aquaculture and mariculture. The Observing Systems Committee also is responsible for recommending to the Board annual updates to the business plan for observational issues associated with the GCOOS. Members will be appointed by the Board of Directors and the chair will be elected by the members of the Committee. The Committee can use targeted workshops and establish working groups to develop its scientific and technical advice.


Appendix D: Outline of GCOOS Observing System Plan

OSC Discussion Draft of 4/27/06

The draft outline below is a working discussion document and should not be viewed or quoted as final in any way. Comments are welcome from anyone (send to ajochens@tamu.edu).

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Introduction
  3. Observing Requirements
    1. User Requirements Analysis – Task Leader: Dawn Lavoie
      1. GCOOS Plan (PSC? Stakeholder Council? Board?)
      2. Targeted studies (e.g., economists, sociologists)
    2. Inventory of Existing Systems – Task Leader: Nan Walker, with Ric Haag
      1. Observing Systems
      2. Observing Standards and QA/QC procedures in use
      3. Recommendations
    3. Gap Analysis – Task Leader: Linda Lillycrop (conference for inputs)
  4. Observing Strategy and Implementation (Hows) – Task Leader: Don Conlee
    1. Background
    2. GCOOS Systems
    3. National Backbone Enhancements Needed for GCOOS
    4. Pilot Project
  5. Observing Priorities (Whats and Wheres) – Task Leader: Stephan Howden
  6. Recommendations and Conclusion
  7. References

Appendices

  1. Existing Observing Systems Specifications
  2. National Observing Standards and QA/QC Protocols

Timeline dependencies:
The Observing Systems Committee identified a number of timeline dependencies for the development of the Observing System Plan. These are

Section III.C needs Sections III.A and III.B plus what’s in Draft Business Plan
Section III.A needs inputs from other GCOOS Committees/Councils
Section IV needs Section III
Section V needs Sections III and IV