TPOS 2020 Prospectus


Executive Summary

The TPOS 2020 Project will evaluate, and where necessary change, all elements that contribute to the Tropical Pacific Observing System (TPOS1) based on a modern understanding of tropical Pacific science. The project aims for enhanced effectiveness for all stakeholders, informed by the development and requirements of the operational prediction models that are primary users of TPOS data. TPOS 2020 embraces the integration of diverse sampling technologies, with a deliberate focus on robustness and sustainability, and will deliver a legacy of improved governance, coordination and supporting arrangements.

TPOS 2020 is a focused, finite term project, beginning in 2014 and completing in 2020, with its primary outcome being an internationally-coordinated and supported sustainable observing system for the Tropical Pacific Ocean.

The Project will work within the Framework for Ocean Observing developed by the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and use this as a reporting mechanism to other relevant coordination mechanisms. A sustained TPOS will be its principle outcome and legacy for GOOS.

Since the TPOS does not and will not exist in isolation, the TPOS 2020 project welcomes partnerships with other global ocean observing communities, the meteorological community, and the operational centers that use TPOS data for ocean state estimates and forecast initialization; along with coastal and regional ocean communities.

The Project must facilitate and embrace observing element contributions from multiple agencies and countries, through a coordinated portfolio of resources and high-level oversight of the scientific and technical design, sub-projects and interfaces to the user community. This Project has the following scientific objectives:

  • To redesign and refine the TPOS to observe ENSO and advance scientific understanding of its causes,
  • To determine the most efficient and effective observational solutions to support prediction systems for ocean, weather and climate services, and
  • To advance understanding of tropical Pacific physical and biogeochemical variability and predictability.

The social and economic impact of the ability to predict El Niño and associated climate variations, and extreme events is well documented. These predictions have proven to be useful, but have not yet reached the level of skill and detail required to fully realize the potential benefits of sustained observation. Major advances will require enhanced collaboration, including shared planning and implementation, and targeted studies to address current gaps and systematic shortcoming in forecast systems.

TPOS 2020 will deliver the following benefits:

  • A refreshed and more effective design for the TPOS, promoting sustainability, and making full use of new and emerging technologies
  • Greater cooperation and coordination among the international sponsors and contributors to the TPOS, delivering efficiency, reduced risk and greater robustness
  • Facilitation of experiments and studies in process parameterisation and modelling to guide improvements in climate prediction and associated applications
  • Integration of biogeochemical and biological sampling into the TPOS design and implementation
  • Fuller assessment of climate change signatures and the impacts in the tropical Pacific