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Monitoring the Global Ocean through Ocean Climate Indicators


NOAA’s Climate Monitoring program competitively selected two new three-year projects totaling $855,734 in grants to produce observation-based global and (preferably) regional indices that facilitate monitoring the status, trends, extremes, and variability of ocean physical properties for the benefit of research, predictions, and decision makers. The two new projects join 13 multi-year projects totaling $2.2 million, that were funded last year in the same competition.
The Climate Monitoring Program focuses on the development and improvement of climate-related data sets, and the transformation of climate-related observations into informative products to better understand the current and changing state of the climate system.
The program selected new research focused on three topics: climate extremes, paleoclimatology, and ocean climate indicators.  A set of projects was selected to develop new data sets and information products that will help scientists, policy makers, and the general public as they need to make complex sensitive climate related decisions, and understand key aspects of weather and climate extremes ­ events such as heat waves, droughts, and floods that have significant impacts on important natural and human systems like energy, agriculture, water, health. The program also selected a new project in “paleoclimate” research ­ reconstructing past climate signals ­ sometimes from 1000s of years ago ­ from proxy records such as tree rings, ancient corals, and other methods. The two additional projects funded this year are part of a third set of projects focused on better understanding the important two-way relationship between the world’s oceans and climate, which are pioneering development of a set of ocean climate indicators.
The goal of these Ocean Climate Indicators projects is to produce observation-based global and regional indices that facilitate monitoring the status, trends, extremes, and variability of ocean physical properties over time scales of weeks to decades for the benefit of research, predictions, and decision makers. The indices being developed will take advantage of the global ocean observing assets that NOAA and its partners deploy in the open ocean ( and are targeted toward addressing specific stakeholder groups and science or societal questions, such as improving modeling of certain ocean processes or monitoring changes in local and regional ocean conditions for coastal communities. The scientists will be working with various stakeholder communities, vetting the scientific robustness of the indices through community feedback, and cooperating with other efforts (e.g. the US Global Change Research Project’s Pilot Climate Indicators program and ocean monitoring efforts lead by the International Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and others ( toward developing a comprehensive ocean monitoring and indicators system.
The two new projects to be funded by the Climate Monitoring Program starting 2015 are:

“Ocean Climate Indicators for the Trade Winds Region,” co-PIs: Dr. Robert Weller and Dr. Albert Plueddemann (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute)
“Dynamics and seasonal predictability of extreme seas level variability in the tropical western Pacific,” co-PIs: Dr. Axel Timmermann and Dr. Matthew Widlansky (University of Hawai’i)

Climate Monitoring is a program in the Climate Program Office’s Climate Monitoring Division, within NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, that supports projects that develop data sets and information products needed to understand the climate system and makes these data sets accessible to the broader climate research and applications community. To learn more about the Climate Monitoring program, including information on all 15 projects funded under this competition, visit:

For a full list of CPO’s grants and awards for 2015, visit:
NOAA’s Climate Program Office helps improve understanding of climate variability and change in order to enhance society’s ability to plan and respond. NOAA provides science, data, and information that Americans want and need to understand how climate conditions are changing. Without NOAA’s long-term climate observing, monitoring, research, and modeling capabilities we couldn’t quantify where and how climate conditions have changed, nor could we predict where and how they’re likely to change.

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