There are important knowledge gaps and uncertainties regarding fundamentals of how the ocean works and to secure the information needed to reduce key uncertainties and to better understand ocean related tipping points. The UNESCO Global Ocean Science Report demonstrates scientific and technical capacity to discover, access and use ocean data and information is unevenly distributed across the world with capacity development especially urgently needed in Africa. We need to understand the size, stability and variability of ocean and coastal carbon sinks to inform their restoration and to conserve biodiversity and provide economic benefits to communities that rely in these ecosystems.
In a world striving for solutions, we need to ensure that blue carbon and nature-based solutions have the impact we want, in the way we want. Altering delicate ecosystems such as through large-scale carbon dioxide removal may have unintended consequences – we must understand and address these in our quest to tackle the climate change emergency. And research plays a fundamental role – if the ocean’s absorption of carbon slows or even stops, all climate change predictions could be wrong.
Countries should invest in new technologies that can massively increase coverage of continuous global, underwater ocean monitoring but without necessarily having to increase the number of research ships, including through the use of autonomy. The next generation of research ships should be Zero Emissions Vessels, planned and built in the coming years.