There is no commonly accepted definition of ocean science.

Ocean science includes all research disciplines related to the study of the ocean: physical, biological, chemical, geological, hydrographic, health, and social sciences, as well as engineering, the humanities, and multidisciplinary research on the relationship between humans and the ocean. Ocean science seeks to understand complex, multi-scale social-ecological systems and services, which requires observations and multidisciplinary and collaborative research.*

*Definition presented by the Expert Panel on Canadian Ocean Science in the report “Ocean Science in Canada: Meeting the challenge, seizing the opportunity (Council of Canadian Academies, 2013)


Our work on Ocean Science

The IOC ocean science portfolio of activities are prioritized around four strategic themes or clusters: science in support of sustainability of ocean ecosystems in a changing environment; assessing and predicting ocean health and variations in ocean goods and services; responding to governments; and science for the unknown sea.

IOC activities on ocean science address: blue carbon, harmful algal blooms, acidification, deoxygenation, climate change, eutrophication/nutrients, marine engineering, plastics (marine), time series, modelling and predictions and multiple ocean stressors. 

Additionally, IOC contributes to building capacities in ocean science. In this regard, the Global Ocean Science Report (2017) assessed for the first time the status and trends in ocean science capacity around the world. The report offers a global record of who, how, and where ocean science is conducted: generating knowledge, helping to protect the ocean health and empowering society to support sustainable ocean management in the framework of the United Nations 2030 Agenda.


Useful links:

IOC Ocean Science portfolio

Global Ocean Science Report