IPSO Science

IPSO works with the world’s leading marine scientists to consider the cumulative impacts of anthropogenic stressors, from climate change through to the harvesting of marine species, and what the consequences of these are for the ability of the ocean to function as part of the planet’s life support system and to provide food and other ecosystem services to humankind.

The IPSO scientists develop an ecosystemic (holistic) understanding of how the ocean functions at the Earth System level by synthesising existing science, developing new scientific models and approaches and enabling new scientific research and work to be undertaken.

A key role of IPSO is to provide a clear and independent assessment of the implications of this scientific knowledge for ocean, ecosystem and species management and decision-making, including of terrestrial ecosystems impacting the marine environment.


The past decade has seen a steep change in the volume and quality of scientific research, advancing our understanding of all aspects of the environment, biology, ecosystem functioning and human interactions with the oceans.

With the human population predicted to be as high as 12 billion people by 2100, it is clear that traditional land resources will not be enough to meet the demand for resources, such as food or energy, required to support high-quality livelihoods. As a result, the oceans are emerging as a source of untapped assets, with new industries, such as aquaculture, marine biotechnology, marine renewable energy and deep-sea mining, growing or developing rapidly. And this comes at a time when the ocean is under unprecedented pressure from the effects of climate change, which is causing it to warm and acidify, as well as from spiralling demand for fish protein globally, and from various forms of pollutants.

The ocean is vital for life on Earth. It provides food for more than 3 billion people, produces about half the oxygen that we breathe and absorbs roughly one-quarter of our carbon dioxide emissions. Its health is essential to sustaining life on Earth.

IPSO was founded to enable greater scientific understanding of the role of the ocean at an Earth System level – specifically the impact of the main stressors upon it – and then to explore possible solutions. These solutions are then presented to the public and decision-makers to encourage debate and engagement.

Garbage in the harbour of Tripoli, Libya, Africa