• A personal note on IGBP and the social sciences

    Humans are an integral component of the Earth system as conceptualised by IGBP. João Morais recalls key milestones in IGBP’s engagement with the social sciences and offers some words of advice for Future Earth.
  • IGBP and Earth observation:
    a co-evolution

    The iconic images of Earth beamed back by the earliest spacecraft helped to galvanise interest in our planet’s environment. The subsequent evolution and development of satellites for Earth observation has been intricately linked with that of IGBP and other global-change research programmes, write Jack Kaye and Cat Downy .

Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics

GLOBEC, a study of Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics, was initiated in 1990 by the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, and incorporated into the IGBP Core Element structure in 1995.

Goal and Objectives

The GLOBEC Science Plan was published in 1997, which set out the GLOBEC goal as:

“To advance our understanding of the structure and functioning of the global ocean ecosystem, its major subsystems, and its response to physical forcing so that a capability can be developed to forecast the responses of the marine ecosystem to global change”.

GLOBEC considered “global change” in a broad sense to encompass the gradual processes of climate change as a result of greenhouse warming and their impacts on marine systems, as well as those shorter-term changes resulting from anthropogenic pressures such as population growth in coastal areas, increased pollution, overfishing, changing fishing practices and changing human uses of the seas.

  • Objective 1: To better understand how multiscale physical
    environmental processes force large-scale
    changes in marine ecosystems
  • Objective 2: To determine the relationships between structure
    and dynamics in a variety of oceanic systems
    which typify significant components of the global
    ocean ecosystem, with emphasis on trophodynamic
    pathways, their variability and the role of nutrition
    quality in the food web
  • Objective 3: To determine the impacts of global change on
    stock dynamics using coupled physical,
    biological and chemical models linked to
    appropriate observation systems and to
    develop the capability to predict future impacts

Throughout GLOBEC the programme was managed by a Scientific Steering Committee and GLOBEC research was organised around four foci. The work was initially developed within four Regional Programmes and in 2004 two additional programmes began their research activities. A final regional programme, ICED, grew out of Southern Ocean GLOBEC in the final years of the programme.

Now that the project has ended, many of the continuing activities and
outstanding scientific questions are being taken forward by IMBER.


Marine ecosystems and climate change

Oxford University Press (2010) Barange M, Field J G, Harris R H, Hofmann E E, Perry R I and Werner C (eds) 464 pp.

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IGBP closed at the end of 2015. This website is no longer updated.

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