The ocean is largely unknown: today, it is sounded and measured by a growing number of scientist, institutions, and research centers deploying a vast apparatus of remote sensing satellites, buoys, fixed stations, high-resolution bathymetric measurements, radar beams, lidar scan, GPSes, automatic identification systems for vessels, complex mathematical models, and direct observations.
The data they collect is often local and partial, and complex operations are being taken around the world to synchronize and normalize data, make it interoperative, and increase availability to growing communities of researchers. The vast machine of climate change science is improving at enormous speed. Yet, data is often unavailable on a global scale; it is not continuous and difficult to access: even when it is available as part of scientific publications, it is often published in sites known only to experts and the data collections themselves are often incomplete.
Open data, that is, data that is available without restrictions on access and use, is a largely aspired goal in science, yet the institutions of the instrumented, objective, and corrected knowledge of climate change involve economies that are contradictory with those aspirations. In the research presented in “Oceans in Transformation,” we have opted for open-access data sets with global coverage. Open access still requires registration and complex protocols for the use of public information.