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Building capacity for the WIO and Agulhas Current Observing System

The workshop was aimed at enhancing capacity building of countries in the Western Indian Ocean region.
One of the key workshop goals was to provide training in deployments and management of in-situ ocean observations.
Workshop participants included regional and international scientists.
- Dr Juliet Hermes, Manager, SAEON Egagasini Node


SAEON served as an active participant in the second training workshop of the Data Buoy Cooperation Panel (DBCP)1 aimed at enhancing capacity building of countries in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region.

The workshop, which was held in conjunction with the Scientific Committee for Oceanographic Research (SCOR) Working Group meeting on the climatic importance of the Greater Agulhas System, was hosted by the Mauritius Oceanographic Institute. The workshop theme was Implementation and Operation of Western Indian Ocean and Greater Agulhas Current Observing System: Building Links and Predictive Capacity for East African Participation.

This year a number of relevant groups featured strongly in the workshop and there was an overall consensus that the attendance of such key South-West Indian Ocean groups added to the quality of the training and discussions. Groups included the SCOR Working Group, the Agulhas Somali Current Large Marine Ecosystem (ASCLME) and the African Monitoring of the Environment for Sustainable Development (AMESD). Further details can be found at


Key workshop goals were to continue to build capacity within regional meteorological/ ocean/ climate institutes to apply new Indian Ocean Observing System (IndOOS) data, and to provide training in deployments and management of in-situ ocean observations.

Following two and a half days of presentations at the beginning of the workshop, the group was split into the Observational Development Team (coordinated by Augustus Vogel) and the Modelling Development Team (coordinated by SAEON’s Dr Juliet Hermes), with overall coordination by Sidney Thurston (DBCP / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). An Applications Development Team was also introduced during this workshop.

Sessions were planned in advance and a number of teleconferences were held to ensure that the capacity building sessions were as hands on as possible. A key session during the week was the science and resource planning morning, led by SCOR and ASCLME, whereby the regional scientists also had a chance to give overviews of country activities. These ‘pop ups’ are available on the website and the SCOR science planning document will be made available to those interested.


The science and resource planning engaged all participants to identify what observations, cruises, remote sensing and access to model data were needed, and why. Key outcomes of this fruitful discussion were:

Recommendations for sustained observations in SWIO:

  • Agulhas System air-sea flux buoy
  • Long-term monitoring of Agulhas Current (transport and water masses)
  • Reference mooring in Mozambique Channel (leveraged on existing ten-year time series) 

Recommendations for modelling in SWIO:

  • Improve capacity of both running and analysing models
  • Provide real-time data assimilation products of the Western Indian Ocean to help monitor the data-sparse area


SCOR working group

The effort put in by the SCOR working group and associate members was huge and this showed in their hands-on lectures, all of which were very well attended. All participants gave positive feedback about their interactions with the SCOR scientists.

The SCOR working group also held a separate science meeting to which some of the regional scientists were invited. The reports and strategic planning from these meetings will be utilised where possible to encourage observations in the South-West Indian Ocean, in particular the Greater Agulhas Current System. The SCOR working group’s recently published review paper in Nature was also made available to all participants.


To maximise networking, the lunch times of the regional scientists in particular (although not exclusively) were coordinated with those of the SCOR scientists. All members had open and enthusiastic discussions with the regional scientists and some good networks were created between the international and regional scientists. Everyone gained from the knowledge shared and there is a good deal of interest from the regional participants to remain informed of the SCOR working group activities as well as the activities of the members.

There was a general consensus that the skills and knowledge gained will be applied at the home institutions and that the networks which began to be established will assist in issues arising in different thematic regions. There was also a general consensus that, where possible, the regional scientists would like to keep contact with the SCOR working group and receive any relevant information from them.

A visit to the Mauritius Oceanographic Institute allowed some of the international scientists an opportunity to view the facilities and consult with some of the local scientists, which was of particular interest after the AMESD programme was discussed at the workshop.

1 The DBCP was formed in 1985 as a joint body of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO.

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