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Studies of the global carbon cycle and climate change necessarily involve investigations across regional and political boundaries. Recognizing the need to develop an international research framework, various working groups of programs such as the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) have developed research strategies for global carbon cycle studies.

Based on recommendations from these programs, several nations are now moving ahead with plans for large-scale ocean carbon observations. Many of these national and regional studies are similar in focus, and have been designed to complement studies in other countries. However, there is an immediate need for global-scale coordination of these carbon observations and research efforts. There is also an urgent need to critically assess the overall network of planned observations to ensure that the results, when combined, will meet the requirements of the research community.