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Scientists call for new distributed models of ocean data collection

(Xinhua)    10:28, August 12, 2017

GENEVA, Aug. 11 -- In order to unleash the full power of ocean data, new distributed models of data collection, linkage, and use are needed, two scientists wrote Friday in a World Economic Forum newsletter.

They are Nishan Degnarain, a member of the National Ocean Taskforce for the government of Mauritius, and Steve Adler, chief data strategist at IBM Watson, which deals in analytical software.

"Public and private interests for marine ecology and sustainable development can be mutually satisfied with inclusive governance models that share information and promote commercial interests consistent with the UN's (United Nations) Sustainable Development Goals."

In the past two years, scientists have collected more data on the oceans than in the entire history of the planet, they said.

They also describe how there is now a proliferation of sensors above, on, and beneath the oceans, along with low-cost micro satellites circling the earth to record daily what happens below.

"Undersea autonomous drones photograph and map the continental shelf and seabed, explore deep sea volcanic vents, and can help discover mineral and rare earth deposits," Degnarain and Adler describe.

However, much more data is needed at higher frequency, quality, and variety to understand the oceans to the degree already understood, as less than five percent of the oceans are monitored.

"This new wave of data innovation is constrained by inadequate data supply, demand and governance. The supply of existing ocean data is locked by paper records, old formats, proprietary archives, inadequate infrastructure, and scarce ocean data skills and capacity."

As more private operators enter the market, there is a risk that much of this data will become privatized, placing them out of the reach of many regulators in small island states, the UN, universities, and many other interested parties, Degnarain and Adler said.

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