CLEO publications in Frontiers in Marine Science Foreword Josef Aschbacher, Director of ESA’s Earth Observation Programmes Satellite data have drastically changed the view we have of the oceans. Covering about 70% of Earth’s surface, oceans play a unique role for our planet and for our life – but large areas remain unexplored and are difficult to reach. Since the 1980s, Earth-orbiting satellites have helped to observe what is happening at the ocean surface. Sensors like CZCS, AVHRR, SeaWifs and MODIS provided the first ocean colour data from space. Starting in 2002, ESA's Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) on-board the environmental satellite Envisat, provided detailed information on phytoplankton biomass and concentrations of other matter in the global oceans. These satellite observations laid the groundwork for studying the marine environment and how it responds to climate change, and the research community has since delivered information on the variability of marine ecosystems. Part of this work is reflected in this stunning collection of peer-reviewed publications presented at the workshop, Colour and Light in the Ocean from Earth Observation (CLEO), held at ESA’s ESRIN site in Frascati, Italy, on 6–8 September 2016. The event attracted more than 160 participants from all over the world, including remote sensing experts, marine ecosystem modelers, in-situ observers and users of Earth observation data. Scientifically, the meeting covered applications in climate studies over primary productivity and ocean dynamics, to pools of carbon and phytoplankton diversity at global and regional scales. It also demonstrated the potential of Earth observation and its contribution to modern oceanography. Looking to the future, new satellites developed by ESA under the coordination of the European Commission will further our scientific and operational observations of the seas. With Sentinel-3A in orbit and its twin Sentinel-3B following in 2017, there is a new category of data available for operational oceanographic applications and climate studies for years to come. These data are free and easy to access by anyone interested. Looking at the role of oceans in our daily lives, I am sure that this collection of scientific excellence will be valued by scientists of today and will inspire the next generation to carry these ideas into the future.