Following Mercator Ocean’s Special Envoy for COP28, Dr. Karina von Schuckmann

In order to follow and provide inputs and expertise in key Blue events at COP28, Mercator Ocean International (MOi) dispatched world-renown oceanographer Karina von Schuckmann as its Special Envoy at COP28. Known for her expertise in Ocean climate monitoring and contributions as a lead author of high-level reports including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Dr. von Schuckmann presented across a variety of Blue events during the 28th edition of the Conference of the Parties (COP) at the United Nations Climate Change Conference held this year in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

At COP28 Dr. von Schuckmann highlighted MOi’s expertise and solutions for Ocean protection and sustainable development underpinned by Ocean monitoring, state-of-the-art Ocean science and knowledge, digital Ocean infrastructure and tools, and next-generation Ocean prediction services. The conference emphasized the Ocean’s vital role in climate regulation and its significance in achieving global sustainability goals, reflecting a commitment to addressing the interconnected challenges of climate change and Ocean health.

Dr. Karina von Schuckmann, Mercator Ocean International Special Envoy at COP28. Credits: Mercator Ocean International.
Dr. Karina von Schuckmann, Mercator Ocean International Special Envoy at COP28. Credits: Mercator Ocean International.

Since 1995, the United Nations Climate Change Conferences have convened world leaders and scientists to establish common rules for reducing greenhouse emissions and to address climate change challenges. COP28 placed a central focus on the Ocean, covering key challenges and opportunities for its role in climate change mitigation and adaptation. The international community, represented by organizations such as Mercator Ocean International, actively participated in discussions and initiatives aimed at fostering sustainable Ocean management and addressing climate change impacts on marine ecosystems.

Key agenda highlights of Karina von Schuckmann, MOi Special Envoy for COP28

01 December 

Where is global warming in relation to the long-term temperature goal?”

     – COP28 IPCC Pavilion event 
     – Science for Climate Action Pavilion

Kicking-off her nearly two weeks at the conference, Dr. von Schuckmann participated in the Science for Climate Action Pavilion, which hosted side events of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), MERI Foundation and the National Center of Meteorology of the UAE (NCM). She presented in a session entitled “Where is global warming in relation to the long-term temperature goal?” on “Tracking climate change between IPCC reports”, delivered together with Dr. Matt Palmer, also a lead author of the sixth IPCC Assessment Report (AR6), she focused on the needs and solutions for monitoring climate change between IPCC report cycles.

In our changing climate, we depend on indicators tracking the state of the Earth system to assess the impact of human activities and to make well-informed decisions. IPCC reports serve as the authoritative scientific evidence for climate negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). These reports are used to make assessments of where we are in terms of the Paris Agreement long-term temperature goal (LTTG) and provide information relevant to the Global Stocktake (GST). However, due to their publication cycles every 5-10 years, there are gaps in information and lag behind the rapid changes occurring in the Earth system.

Addressing this gap, Dr. von Schuckmann and Dr. Palmer presented on a recent initiative, the Indicators of Global Climate Change (IGCC), an international science community effort established in 2023, that aims to provide annual updates on essential climate indicators. It ensures ongoing public awareness of crucial aspects of global warming. MOi, a project partner, lends its expertise to analyse the Earth Energy Imbalance (EEI), a key parameter for assessing the magnitude of human-induced global warming. Over the past two decades, the EEI has more than doubled. Notably, this indicator is inextricably linked to Ocean heat dynamics, as the Ocean absorbs approximately 90% of the heat generated by human activities within the Earth system.[i]

02 DecemberRising Ocean
– Ocean Pavilion, Blue Zone special side event at the COP28 Ocean

The Rising Ocean session led by the Ministry for European and Foreign Affairs (France) – UN Ocean Conference 2025, included a high-level roster of speakers. Opened by Olivier Poivre d’Arvor, Ambassador for the Poles and the Ocean, Special Envoy of the President for the UN Ocean Conference and closed by Peter Thomson, UN SG’s Special Envoy for the Ocean and Prince Albert II of Monaco, the event convened Ocean champions across the globe.

COP28 represents a pivotal milestone on the journey towards the 3rd UN Ocean Conference (UNOC) which will take place in Nice, France, in June 2025. This high-level event delved into tangible plans and actions that will propel us forward on the path to UNOC, with an objective to protect the Ocean and the communities reliant on it. Central to this endeavour are imperatives to enhance our understanding of the Ocean-climate nexus, foster the creation of sustainable and resilient communities, and address the finance gaps while promoting the development of a sustainable blue economy.

As a speaker, Dr. von Schuckmann discussed the importance of Ocean science and knowledge, digital Ocean technology, and Ocean prediction as the cornerstones of good policy. MOi is at the forefront of this effort, offering Ocean science expertise, digital infrastructure and a suite of services. Providing authoritative digital Ocean information and services is central to its mission, particularly as it is on the pathway to transform into an intergovernmental organisation.

03 DecemberUNFCCC Earth information day
– World Café Plenary session
– Facilitator: Thelma Krug (GCOS) 
– Expert: Karina von Schuckmann (Mercator Ocean international, France) 
– Notetaker: Carlo Buontempo (ECMWF, Germany)

As part of the UNFCC Earth Information Day, Dr. von Schuckmann participated in a World Café plenary session. She served as an expert of the world café topic: “Global climate indicators – from the global observing system to knowledge transfer at the science-policy nexus – what can we further do?” 

This World Café session served as a dialogue platform on the science-policy nexus, acting as a catalyst for broader discussions. Focused on the global monitoring of climate change, it addresses the challenges in transferring knowledge from science to policy. Specifically, this session initiated discussions on the significance of indicators and regular reporting, such as the WMO State of the Climate and IGCC

The GCOS Global Climate Indicators cover a comprehensive set of parameters detailing the evolving climate across various facets of the Earth system. These indicators show vital information related to key domains of climate change, including temperature and energy, atmospheric composition, Ocean and water, and the cryosphere. Serving as the foundation for the annual WMO Statement of the State of the Global Climate, these indicators contribute essential insights submitted to the Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC. Moreover, the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) and the Copernicus Marine Service, implemented by MOi under the European Commission, utilize these indicators for their annual European State of the Climate and the Ocean State Report.

MOi contributed to the latest WMO State of the Global Climate report 2022, and Dr. von Schuckmann was a lead author lending her expertise on the Ocean’s absorption of heat, a key element in quantifying and understanding global warming. MOi also contributed to regional WMO reports on Europe, Asia and Pacific with expertise on sea surface temperature and marine heatwaves, for example.

Ocean Heat Content in Zeta Joules: 1960-2021 ensemble mean time series and ensemble standard deviation (2-standard deviations, shaded) of global ocean heat content (OHC) anomalies relative to the 2005-2021 average for the 0-300m (grey), 0-700m (blue), 0-2000m (yellow) and 700-2000m depth layer (green). Note that values are given for the ocean surface area between 60°S-60°N and limited to areas deeper than 300m in each product. The ensemble-mean OHC anomalies for the year 2022 have been added as separate points, together with their ensemble spread, and is based on the 8 products. Source: WMO State of the Global Climate report 2022, contributed by Mercator Ocean international.

06 December At the frontline of coastal adaptation
– Ocean Pavilion, Blue Zone Sea’ties
– Ocean & Climate Platform (OCP)

Sea level rise projections encompass numerous uncertainties, including temporal scales and regional variations. Up to a billion people in coastal cities could face the impacts of sea level rise by 2050. Organized by OCP, SPREP, the PCCC, and FMDV, this side event aims to explore sustainable coastal adaptation for cities, focusing on the pillars of knowledge, solutions, equity, and finance. Dr. von Schuckmann joined a panel that discussed the regional perspectives, sharing successful practices, addressing challenges, and proposing ways forward. She focused on the importance of science-driven Ocean knowledge to inform policy and action.

Info and livestream here. Discover the provisional agenda here.

08 DecemberFull Steam Ahead: Womens’ Leadership in Ocean Science
– Ocean Pavilion Main Theatre
– American Geophysical Union (AGU)

Women are trailblazers in Ocean science. From key discoveries, breakthrough studies and innovative collaboration, women have led the way in discovery and solutions. Hear more from leaders in the field and the challenges and opportunities that lie in climate action. Dr. von Schuckmann participated in this event on women’s leadership in Ocean sciences alongside female oceanographers and experts from across the world.

08 December Spaced-based success stories for Climate Action
– ESA Pavilion

This European Space Agency (ESA) event centered on advancing our understanding of Earth’s climate system and addressing climate change through space-based technologies and services. It provided insights into their current utilisation for climate action, showcasing effective support to decision-making and climate mitigation and adaptation. Discussions focused on accelerating the uptake of these capabilities, enhancing the space sector’s contribution to the Paris Agreement, and emphasizing the importance of collaborative development with stakeholders and user communities.

Dr von Schuckmann highlighted success stories from the Copernicus Marine Service (implemented by MOi) that are underpinned by satellite observations. She discussed reporting activities such as the EU Copernicus Ocean State Report, and Ocean monitoring indicators in the Copernicus catalogue as well as for EuroStat. She also presented on the many Use Cases and examples of how Copernicus Marine supports climate action.

09 December Ocean Observations, Information and Advisory Services for a Sustainable and Resilient Blue

– Ocean Pavilion
– Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS)

More than one-third of the global population lives in coastal regions, and the Ocean plays a key role in livelihoods of  billions of people. However, these vital ecosystems face severe threats from both natural and human-induced pressures. This session fostered discussions on improving Ocean understanding, bolstering coastal resilience, and developing policy frameworks for sustainable Ocean management. This involves leveraging Ocean observations, data, modelling, and prediction systems, supported by capacity development and research initiatives.

Dr. von Schuckmann gave a presentation entitled “Ocean Modelling & Forecasting Systems in support of sustainable development” that was part of an event called ”Ocean Observations, Information and Advisory Services for a Sustainable and Resilient Blue Economy”, led by Dr. T Srinivasa Kumar, Director of the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS).

She discussed the collaborations with INCOIS, which is a key actor in the UN OceanPrediction Decade Collaborative Centre (OceanPrediction DCC), hosted by MOi. INCOIS is a strong regional leader and plays a key role in the OceanPrediction DCC in developing, structuring, and promoting the Ocean prediction community worldwide.  This community is capable, operational, impactful, and able to support policymakers for a sustainable Ocean.

09 December Observing the Changing Global Ocean: Heating, Salinity Changes, Carbonization, Acidification,
Deoxygenation, and Greening
– Ocean Pavilion Main Theatre
– Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego

The Ocean takes up more than 90% of the extra heat and approximately 30% of the excess carbon dioxide produced by human activity. As a consequence, marine oxygen levels are dropping and marine environments are acidifying. Dr. von Schuckmann weighed in, addressing how we can observe these changes throughout the Ocean, using Ocean Monitoring Indicators, regular reporting, and Ocean data.

About Karina von Schuckmann

Karina von Schuckmann (Dr., HDR) is a physical oceanographer specialised in Ocean climate monitoring at Mercator Ocean International, based in Toulouse, France. Her major interest lies in understanding the role of and implications for the Ocean under climate change. She is an expert on the Earth heat inventory, which is to a large extent (~90%) determined by heat storage in the Ocean, and which provides a measure on how far the Earth system is out of energy imbalance. She is also an expert on Ocean reporting, and its role for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Her role in IPCC started with the 5th assessment cycle as contributing author, and as Lead author during the 6th assessment cycle for the Working Group 1 report, and the Special Report on Ocean and Cryosphere. Since its launch in 2015, she is also the head of the European Union Copernicus Ocean State Report, which provides information on the state, variability and change of the Ocean at an annual frequency. Beside the IPCC, she also contributed to other internationally driven climate reporting such as the UNESCO IOC Global Ocean Science Report and the WMO global and regional (Europe, Pacific, Asia) State of the Climate. She is very active at international level, and initiated and chairs the international and multidisciplinary group on the Earth heat inventory under the auspices of WMO/GCOS. She is member of the European Academy of Science, member of the GCOS/GOOS Ocean Observations Panel for Climate, member of the ESA Climate Science Advisory Board and member of the GCOS Task Team for Earth system cycles. In fall 2023 she received the price Gérard Mégie from the French Academie of Sciences.

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