Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 05 Issue 03

View Issue TOC
Volume 05, No. 3
Pages 163 - 168


Comments on the Global Ocean Observing Capabilities, Indicator Species as Climate Proxies, and the Need for Timely Ocean Monitoring

Gary D. SharpDouglas R. McLain
First Paragraph

Conventional studies of paleoclimate, paleoceanography, and plate tectonics rely upon analyses of patterns within geologic strata, often characterized by biological and ecological indicators or markers. Chronostratigraphies of these sorts have been used to characterize the ocean and local climate, from understanding of arrays of fundamental, species-specific physiologically limiting parameters (e.g., temperature, oxygen, salinity, and/or fresh-water flow rates; Sharp, 1988). Chronologically ordered species-assemblage records, coveting millions of years, provide the basis for much of what we know about climate history. Distributions of species that occupy ocean Transition Zones (regions of strong thermal and climatic gradients) and those that inhabit the thermal regimes on either side of these Transition Zones provide useful indicators of underlying physical regimes. In the short term, seasonal patterns and anomalies provide us with insights into watermass movements and in the longer term, El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and other climate-driven ocean changes.


Sharp, G.D., and D.R. McLean. 1992. Comments on the global ocean observing capabilities, indicator species as climate proxies, and the need for timely ocean monitoring. Oceanography 5(3):163–168, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.1992.10.

Copyright & Usage

This is an open access article made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format as long as users cite the materials appropriately, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate the changes that were made to the original content. Images, animations, videos, or other third-party material used in articles are included in the Creative Commons license unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If the material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission directly from the license holder to reproduce the material.