Established in 1957, SCOR is the oldest of the interdisciplinary bodies of the International Council for Science (ICSU), the latter being a non-governmental organization that promotes international scientific activity in the different branches of science for the benefit of humanity. As of 2011, 33 nations were members of SCOR. The traditional mechanism by which SCOR has operated is the small, short-lived working group, formed to address narrowly focused scientific topics. However, SCOR also takes the lead in the planning of large-scale international research programs in oceanography such as those that address the role of the oceans in global climate change.
The purpose of SCOR is to further international scientific activity in all branches of oceanic research.
SCOR performs the following functions:
- identifying problems of oceanic research that would benefit from coordinated international attention;
- establishing subsidiary bodies, e.g. international working groups, to address these problems;
- reviewing the recommendations of these groups and promoting their implementation;
- organizing international scientific meetings;
- providing a forum for the development of scientific plans for large-scale international programs, and assisting with their implementation;
- determining the views of the oceanographic community on scientific topics; representing these views in appropriate international fora; developing support among scientists for international ocean research programs;
- fostering recognition of the contributions of individual marine scientists and laboratories, and encouraging an adequate level of support for such activities;
- cooperating with national and international organizations concerned with scientific aspects of ocean affairs, especially intergovernmental organizations, and providing advice to such bodies.