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Planning a special deployment cruise to mark initiation of ASCA project

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Along-shore coastal moorings will be deployed during the cruise to monitor the circulation of coastal waters around the ASCA inshore moorings

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Prof. Herman Ridderinkhof of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (left) and Ms Tamaryn Morris (SAEON) discuss the location of moorings

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Two student technicians (DEA and CPUT), lead technician Marcel van der Berg (DEA), developmental scientist Dr Tarron Lamont (DEA), associate professor Isabelle Ansorge (UCT), Ms Dipuo Kgotleng (DST) and two student technicians (BCRE) focus on the technical aspects associated with the deployment cruise

By Tamaryn Morris, ASCA Coordinator, SAEON Egagasini Node

The Agulhas System Climate Array (ASCA) project aims to have its deployment cruise in April 2015, which will mark the initiation of the project.

To this end, a workshop hosted in Cape Town at the end of 2014 brought together three of the five ASCA co-principal investigators and the institutions involved with the project, with an open invitation to additional research teams who were keen to get involved with ASCA.

Co-principal investigators on the ASCA project, Professor Herman Ridderinkhof of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), Dr Juliet Hermes from the SAEON Egagasini Node and Dr Mike Roberts from the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) Ocean and Coasts, represented their respective organisations at the workshop.

Representatives from the SAEON Elwandle Node in Port Elizabeth, University of Cape Town (UCT), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Lwandle Marine Environmental Services, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and students from numerous tertiary institutions were also in attendance.

Day 1: Zooming in on the scientific objectives

The first day of the workshop was dedicated to the scientific objectives of the project. The discussion revolved around what additional objectives could be added to the April 2015 cruise and the project in general.

Introductions by the co-principal investigators focused on how the ASCA project had come about, the results from the Agulhas Current Time-series Experiment (ACT) previously undertaken by Professor Lisa Beal from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) of the University of Miami, and the scientific objectives of the project.

Attendees were then invited to an open-floor discussion to identify the scientific gaps in the ASCA project and to discuss how the institutions represented at the workshop could become involved with the cruise and the project over the next five years.

Additional physical oceanography work suggested included the deployment of gliders above the inshore ASCA moorings and potentially navigating them into the Agulhas Current core, Argo float and Surface Velocity Program (SVP) drifter deployments, and additional along-shore coastal moorings to monitor the circulation of coastal waters around the ASCA inshore moorings.

A detailed discussion was held around biogeochemical prospects for the project. These included phyto- and zooplankton monitoring via nets and underway work, biogeochemical profiling instruments placed on the shipborne Conductivity Temperature and Depth instrument (CTD) and gliders, and additional inshore monitoring undertaken outside of the three confirmed ASCA cruises.

Concerns were raised about the frequency of the ASCA cruises in particular, given the necessary monitoring required of biogeochemical sciences to obtain quantitative results. This aspect could be addressed through additional monitoring undertaken by coastal groups and smaller work-boats, and additionally linked research projects (e.g. ACEP and standard DEA monitoring cruises) over the next five years.

Two outputs from the scientific session will include a workshop report to be sent to those groups that showed interest in being involved with the ASCA cruise in April 2015 to firm up their objectives and needs onboard, and a scientific planning document which will be used to monitor the success of ASCA beyond the initial objectives as outlined in the ASCA Business Plan.

Day 2: Addressing the technical aspects

The second day of the workshop focused on the technical aspects associated with the deployment cruise. This discussion was facilitated by the technical staff of the relevant institutions, and involved dialogue around the mooring designs, instrumentation setup and maintenance, metadata collection at sea, and the April 2015 cruise logistics.

A capacity development plan outlining the skills transfer workshops to be held regarding the instrument work and mooring design needs to be written to ensure the transfer of skills prior to April 2015, but also for future cruises. The aim is to standardise practices across the organisations involved with ASCA (i.e. RSMAS, NIOZ, SAEON and DEA), especially with regard to instruments, metadata and, eventually, data processing and archiving.

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