Things we know about the world’s oceans: They’re big. They’re watery. They’re in bad shape. And that’s about it. To that end, the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans is urging the 72-nation Group on Earth Observations, which meets this week, to invest $2 billion to $3 billion over the next decade in a comprehensive marine monitoring system. Scientists say that such a system could help predict severe weather events and provide crucial information on how the briny deep is affected by overfishing, global warming, pollution, and other threats. “It’s a hoary phrase that we know more about the surface of the moon than the deep ocean,” says Howard Roe, a former chair of POGO. “It’s true. The oceans are virtually unexplored.” Hee hee. He said “hoary.”

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.