Ocean resources provide jobs, goods and services for billions of people around the world and have immense economic importance. There resources include food, fuel, renewable energy, minerals, sand and gravel and tourism. Sustainable development and management of ocean resources is widely recognized by the international community and required for sustained human well-being.
Management of ocean resources requires a diverse network of sustained ocean observations that includes satellite measurements, buoys and deep ocean sensors. These measurements provide information that can be used by resource managers and industry to locate and responsibility utilizes ocean resources. Ocean observation data and information can also be used by policy makers as a basis for improved regulation of ocean resources.
Growing concern about climate change has spurred interest in renewable ocean energies including offshore wind energy, ocean thermal energy conversion, wave energy, current energy and tidal energy. Many of these technologies are in an early stage of development or limited to pilot scale installations. Successful research and development of these technologies requires extensive knowledge of the marine environment. In addition, the environmental impacts of installing these types of renewable energy sources need to be considered. Ocean observations will be crucial for the success and sustainability of these ocean energy resources.
Seafloor mining resources
The seafloor is a source of commercially important resources including sand, gravel, diamonds, manganese, copper, nickel, iron and cobalt. Aggregates of sand and gravel are currently the most mined materials in the marine environment. Sand and gravel are used in construction, for the production of concrete and for beach nourishment. Seabed mining for other minerals is emerging due to increased need of rare earth elements. Proper management and regulation of current and future ocean mining will depend upon research into impacted environments and regular and widespread ocean observations.
Oil and gas resources
Offshore oil and gas extraction constitute a significant portion of the global fuel supply. Economic incentives for these commodities have created a boom in offshore oil and gas exploration and development, increasingly in deeper and deeper water. These developments come with the risk of oil spills and damage to ecosystems. In order to estimate and mitigate impacts to deep water ecosystems by oil and gas drilling, deep ocean observations are needed. In water and satellite observations can also help managers detect and mitigate oil and gas spills resulting from exploration and mining. In addition, Earth observations can help managers protect the safety of offshore crews by tracking and forecasting oceanographic conditions.