Marine Research, Open Science, and the 2019 Ocean Health Index Fellows

The second cohort of Ocean Health Index Fellows will use open data and tools to assess the state of the world’s oceans — and help inform vital marine policy

By Julia Lowndes, Mozilla Fellow

Measuring the health of the world’s oceans is a monumental task. It entails gathering and combining data about everything from biodiversity and mariculture to coastal protection and clean water. This data represents millions of square miles, and it demands an interdisciplinary approach, seeking links between ecology, economics, and other fields.

Despite this monumental task, the Ocean Health Index (OHI) is entering its eighth year of annually assessing ocean health around the world — and openly sharing the process and results to inform marine policy.

Each year, our findings are important as a snapshot but also as time lapse of how ocean health for 220 coastal nations and territories changes over time. These global OHI assessments have been endorsed by the World Economic Forum; used as an indicator by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity; and are expected to be an indicator in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water.

The OHI entails computationally-heavy analyses, nearly one hundred data sources, synthesized and widely communicated results, and an annual deadline. How do we do it? Open practices and data science play a big role: we tackle research in a collaborative, transparent, and highly-reproducible manner using open software and community practices. For us, it means openness in software and culture.





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