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SAEON forges closer links with the Global Ocean Observing System

By Juliet Hermes, Manager, SAEON Egagasini Node
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Juliet Hermes, manager of SAEON’s Egagasini Node (R), forges new alliances during the GOOS Regional Alliance Meeting at theTropical Marine Science Institute, National University of Singapore

Juliet Hermes, the manager of SAEON’s Egagasini Node for Marine Offshore Systems, attended the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) Regional Alliance meeting on behalf of SAEON and JCOMM OCG (the Joint Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology’s Observations Coordination Group).

The meeting was held at the Tropical Marine Science Institute, National University of Singapore, from 4 to 8 September.

The purpose of attending was twofold - firstly to give a presentation on SAEON’s marine and coastal observing platforms, find stronger interactions with the GOOS Regional Alliance and discuss collaborations with organisations such as IMOS (Australian Integrated Marine Observing System) and IOOS (US Integrated Ocean Observing System). Secondly, Juliet set out to present the JCOMM OCG Standards and Best Practices vision, gain support from the GOOS regional alliances, input into the vision and documents and momentum towards a working group.

GOOS regional alliances (GRAs) are coalitions of nations and/or institutions that share GOOS principles and goals and are mostly organised around regional seas or coastal environments. Thirteen GRAs represent different regions of the globe, emphasising regional priorities differing by need, resources and culture. Some GRAs emphasise data sharing or regional capacity development, while others are building out extensive observation systems with dedicated marine service goals, such as oil spill response capabilities or typhoon forecasting.

The meeting started off with presentations on the review of the progress of GRAs and updates on new programmes, partnerships and technologies such as gliders, the global ocean acidification network, and Singapore’s marine science research and development programme. This was followed by a session on climate change impacts, the role of GRAs in the new GOOS strategy, GRA reports, GRA pilot projects, and further partnerships.

SAEON’s further involvement in GOOS

During this session there was a presentation on the Canadian integrated ocean observing system, the Blue Planet, the GOOS strategy and feedback from each of the GRAs. Here Juliet presented on behalf of SAEON, highlighting SAEON’s research and infrastructure. The presentation was very well received, to the extent that GOOS indicated that they want to include SAEON as an ‘affiliate’ GOOS RA and there were some exciting discussions around SAEON’s further involvement with GOOS, potentially through GOOS Africa or IOC Africa.

Juliet gained substantial information on the technologies being used. There was an overwhelming support for emerging technologies such as high-frequency radar and gliders, as well as data information systems. Discussions were held specifically with IMOS, IOOS, EuroGOOS (European Global Ocean Observing System) and the Second International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE-2), as well as the OOPC (Ocean Observations Panel for Climate), Rutgers University and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission).

Coordinating standards and best practices

Following this was a session on JCOMM, New Observing Networks and next steps. During this session Juliet presented a paper on coordinating standards and best practices on behalf of JCOMM OCG. The presentation resulted in significant enthusiasm and buy-in from the regional alliances, with suggestions of current best practices and volunteers to be part of the working group to collate and review these. All in all, it was a very positive experience in terms of feedback on the work being done for JCOMM standards and best practices.

For SAEON there will be a follow-up with IMOS through Dr Tommy Bornman, manager of the SAEON Elwandle Node and his team, and a follow-up in terms of high-frequency radar opportunities in South Africa. Juliet moreover established links with the OOPC and Rutgers University with regards to the Agulhas System Climate Array (ASCA) and the Agulhas Current forward - as a pilot case for their western boundary initiative.


Map showing the GOOS Regional Alliances (image from

Further links were established with Nic Baz of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), who will be visiting Cape Town in November and whose team has done considerable biological work, including with benthic cameras and stereo-BRUVs (baited remote underwater video systems).

For JCOMM OCG there was a good deal of interactions and planned activities around standards and best practices.


Juliet would like to thank the IOC (Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission) for funding the travel.

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