How do I read the Open Ocean sections?

The Open Ocean section is intended to provide a non-technical, yet comprehensive, summary of the current and future state of the global ocean – in particular beyond areas beyond national jurisdiction –and the present and potential impacts that ocean has on humans. This is the result of a 2 year project, where results have been provided by the experts of the Open Ocean component of the GEF Transboundary Water Assessment Programme and in collaboration with the European FP7 Funded GEOWOW (GEOSS interoperability for Weather, Ocean Ecosystems and Water). The assessment is structured in 9 themes which are reflected in the 9 main pages of the Open Ocean aspect to the website:

  • Introduction and Context to the Open Ocean Assessement;
  • Explanation of the Conceptual Framework to the Open Ocean assessment;
  • Goverance;
  • Climate and Future impacts;
  • Ecosystems;
  • Fisheries;
  • Pollution;
  • Integrated assessment;
  • Risk to human society

Each theme is outlined separately with an ‘overview’ explanation, and when relevant, is further subdivided into various sections that summarize the specific findings from the Open Ocean Assessment. These themes on the website correspond directly to the 9 Chapters of the Transboundary Waters Assessment Programme Open Ocean Assessment Technical Report (2015), and as well the Open Ocean Assessment Summary for Policy Makers (2015) Direct links to the related data and to further reading are also provided on each page wherever relevant. The themes and sub-sections on the website are organised like a book: the page footer shows the preceding and following themes, again, directly correlating with the order of chapters of the Open Ocean Technical Assessment Report.

Each page also links to the underlying data that supports the indicator based results. Alternatively, the user can enter the Data Page from the overall menu to access all the data provided to the project. The majority of the data is available openly and also linked to the GEOSS (Group on Earth Observations System of Sysems) Common Infrastructure (GCI) (unless otherwise stated). Users of the data are requested to acknowlegdge the data providers. Specific instructions are provided at the end of datasets showing the correct procedure for acknowledgement (unique to each dataset).

How do I read the Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs) sections?

The Large Marine Ecosystems section ( allows viewing information at global scale and at the LME scale. The information is structured in 6 modules: Productivity, Fish and Fisheries, Pollution, Ecosystem health, Socio-economics, and Governance. The LMEs sections of the website allow comparing LMEs at global scale for each individual indicator, let the user see all indicators for a given LME (by reading the so-called LME factsheet) and allow comparing detailed information in-between two or more LMEs.

For learning how to interact with this system, let's take an example: open the LMEs landing page Then click in the left-hand-side green menu, pick up a module. For example, click on "Fish & Fisheries", then on "Fishing subsidy". A new map appears on screen, showing the "Ratio value of Fishing subsidy to landed value". More details are found under the map: the map title and legend, the name of the data provider and a link to its description page, a link to a description of the displayed indicator, data to download and meta-information.

To go further in the understanding of a given LME, you can either:

  • Type a fraction of an LME name (text such a 'Newfound', 'sea', 'shelf'), or type an LME code number (between 1 and 66), in the large white rectangle above the map (the text box reading "Search for an LME or click on the Map). By typing something, the box will show you any LME name matching the text you entered: click on your choice, then click on "Read the LME factsheet" button that has appeared;
  • Or click on the gray button "click here to choose an LME", and then click on any LME name;
  • Or click on an LME polygon on the map.

For example, if you chose the California Current (, you should now see a page showing a map of the LME number 3 (California current), with a list of modules (Productivity, Fish and Fisheries, Pollution and Ecosystem Health: Pollution and ecosystem Health, Socio-economics, and Governance). Click on one of those modules name to display its content. For example, if you click on "Productivity", you should see 3 charts: the time series of Chlorophyll-A from 1998 to 2014, and the Primary productivity for the same period, both associated with a risk level ("Low" in this case). The last time series shows the evolution of the Sea Surface Temperature.

For each of these charts, you can super-impose the values from another LME: for example type "21" in the search tool above the chart to select the Norwegian sea (you could as well type "Nor" to list LMEs containing 'Nor' in their names). Click on "add plot": now you can compare both LMEs time series. You can add a third time series. Click in the legend under the graphic to show or hide components of the charts. If you need to have a copy of the graphic for a report, click on the icon on the top-right corner of the chart to download it in your favorite format. A video, available from this FAQ, gives a demonstration of the usage of the interactive charts.

You can either jump directly to another LME (click on the button "Click here to choose an LME") or go to the LME portal (click on "LME" in the website banner), or browse the LME factsheet like a book (click on the next/previous links on top-right of the page, close to the map, or in the LME names at the bottom of the page.

Downloaded data are formatted as a text file (CSV). How can I open them in a spreadsheet?

The data are provided in open format. For tables, they are provided as a CSV (Colon Separated Values) file. The file is a plain text file, each field is separated from the next one with a colon (';'). To read the data in a spreadsheet, you must open a new spreadsheet, then import the data file as a text file. The spreadsheet software should open a dialog window where you can indicate with character is used for separating values (in our case, ';'). Detailed instructions for MS-Excel™ is found here (PDF file).

How can I use LMEs fact sheets graphics?

How can I get a copy of a graphic? Can I re-use them?

You can re-use any graphics and text displayed on this website, with the exception of photographs showing attribution to a third party.

Be sure to include a reference such as: “IOC-UNESCO,, GEF-Transboundary Water Assessment programme and EC-FP7/GEOWOW (GEOSS Interoperability for Weather, Ocean and Water)”.

If used on an interactive document (pdf, website), each term can be linked to its reference website:

  • GEF-Transboundary Water Assessment programme :

Can I re-use the data I got form this website?