The WOBEC (Weddell Sea Observatory of Biodiversity and ecosystem Change) project intends to create an international, distributed observatory in the EWS to research climate-driven ecological changes and their interactions with anthropogenic activities. The EWS, which is located in the Southern Ocean, is considered to be a near-pristine ecosystem and a potential sanctuary for marine organisms. The work is driven by the region’s vulnerability to the effects of climate change on physical characteristics, biodiversity, and ecosystem functioning.

The project responds to the critical requirement for regular monitoring of the EWS environment in order to create a baseline of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning against which future changes may be monitored. This is critical for developing protection and mitigation measures, particularly in light of the planned Weddell Sea Marine Protected Area (WSMPA). The project also complements worldwide programmes including the Ocean Decade, and the Southern Ocean Decade Action Plan.

Important Research Questions:

What is the EWS’s baseline status for biodiversity and ecosystem functions?
What data and information are required to assess the status, trends, and mitigation strategies in biodiversity changes and ecosystem services, as well as to identify places of particular susceptibility and climatic refugia?
How might an examination of biodiversity, ecosystem functions, and their interactions with environmental forces help to better future management of this evolving ecosystem?

Scientific Objectives:

Make EWS baseline biodiversity and ecological knowledge available to the public.
Create a WOBEC monitoring mechanism in collaboration with stakeholders.
Create and implement a multiscale monitoring plan that combines traditional approaches with cutting-edge technologies.
WOBEC incorporates cutting-edge technology and computational advances into a unified framework for observation parameters, protocols, and sampling techniques. It promotes a novel concept of biodiversity monitoring that can lead to the establishment of new standards for conservation management under high uncertainty by emphasising a society-oriented layer in biodiversity and ecosystem monitoring through a co-design process with stakeholders.