Madrid, Spain, 19 September 2013
Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of ITU bienvenidos and welcome to this joint ITU/WMO/UNESCO-IOC workshop, the third in the series dealing with the possible use of telecommunication undersea cables for climate monitoring.
This work was kick-started following the publication in 2010 of a Technology Watch Report and an article in Nature, authored by Dr John You, a marine scientist at the University of Sydney, Australia.
Dr You’s report highlighted the great potential of undersea cables to measure climate variables, such as water temperature, salinity, pressure and acceleration on the ocean floor.
These variables are all incredibly important indicators for oceanography, climate change and disaster warning. Best of all, the methodology described by Dr You allows for long-term delivery of this data at low cost.
Since oceans store most of the climate system’s heat and greenhouse gas, scientists have highlighted this real-time data source as invaluable in studying the climate-related challenges of years to come.
It is indeed a golden opportunity because despite a wide range of tools to monitor oceans, oceanographers have great difficulty in measuring water variables on the sea floor. There is potential to build a truly global ocean observation network if we equip the world’s submarine communications cables with sensors.
As result of the Call to Action produced by the first Green Standards Week in Rome, a Joint ITU/WMO/UNESCO-IOC Task Force was established in 2012 to explore the potential of a submarine climate-monitoring and disaster-warning system. I would like to thank Professor Chris Barnes, University of Victoria, Canada for chairing the Task force.
This workshop today and tomorrow, builds on the last year’s event held in Paris and will explore work undertaken by the Joint Task Force and examine how to develop partnerships between industry, government, academia and NGOs that can bring these ideas to reality. Funding is one of the key challenges we face. So being able to develop a solid business plan and highlight the benefits to all stakeholders will be key.
In addition, this workshop will explore scientific and societal needs, new engineering and technology requirements, sensor standards and testing protocols – all to promote the development of sensor-equipped submarine cable projects.
There are some related case studies for us to draw on. A new generation of scientific cabled ocean observatories is emerging at a few selected sites, but there is a need and opportunity to extend observations and monitoring over a much wider area. Some pioneering scientific observatory projects have already proven the concept, launching ambitious initiatives in small regions of the deep ocean.
The development of a real-time, ocean-wide monitoring system of green cables is a bold vision but has a good chance of success thanks to the commitment and ambition of the participants in the Joint Task Force.
ITU is pleased to be a co-sponsor of the Joint Task Force, and to provide the secretariat support.
I wish you a very productive and enjoyable two days and good luck with the project.