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DBCP-34 – an international collaboration on surface ocean observations

By Tamaryn Morris, SAEON Egagasini Node
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The thirty-fourth session of the Data Buoy Cooperation Panel (DBCP) took place in Cape Town from 23 to 26 October 2018. The DBCP brings together ocean surface observers relying on instrumentation such as satellite-tracked drifting buoys and moored surface expression buoys.

Tracked surface buoys are used to garner information on surface currents and features, while moored surface buoys (particularly those deployed along the equator) play a significant role in providing real-time meteorological and oceanographic observations from the surface, (and where technology allows) sub-surface, to feed into climate coupled models. 

The DBCP falls under the auspices of the WMO-IOC JCOMM (Joint Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology), with WMO being the World Meteorological Organization and IOC the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.


The DBCP brings together ocean surface observers relying on instrumentation such as satellite-tracked drifting buoys and moored surface expression buoys

The DBCP meet annually to discuss issues around vandalism of buoys; metadata, data uptake and dissemination; deployment of new platforms and refurbishment of existing platforms (particularly moored surface expression buoys); and various additional issues. This year, the discussions included Standards and Best Practices, vice-chaired by Professor Juliet Hermes of the SAEON Egagasini Node. This work is pivotal to ensuring data is collected from the same high-quality platforms to the same high-quality standards globally to make data compilation and sharing a seamless enterprise.

Due to the session being hosted in Cape Town, a considerable number of young South African scientists were in attendance, including Prof. Hermes, Tamaryn Morris and Jethan d’Hotman of the Egagasini Node. Given the workshop overlapped with two other international workshops hosted in South Africa within the same week (ESASTAP and ICEMASA), having a fair South African oceanographic community presentation at the meetings was encouraging. Tamaryn was elected co-chair of the Indian Ocean Data Buoy Panel, with the focus on encouraging deployments of instruments into the Indian Ocean through the Second International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE-2) project and similar.

Visitors to Cape Town experienced some of the warmest temperatures on record in that week, and many took advantage of the rising full moon to climb Lions Head and enjoy the adventure. Several visitors declared themselves fans of South Africa’s beautiful scenery. This went hand-in-hand with the feeling expressed by the international community that South Africa and her marine scientists have much to show in their vast oceans to the east, south and west of the country, and the strides and progress we have achieved to do exactly that!

For further information, or for any deployment opportunities that become available within the Indian, Atlantic or Southern Oceans in the years to come, please contact Ms Tamaryn Morris.

Finally, as a reflection of my time at SAEON, I would like to say I am truly grateful and indebted to Prof. Hermes for her wonderful leadership and dedication. She remains one of my PhD supervisors and the DBCP is one of many projects we will be collaborating on. I had a wonderful time at SAEON and I’ve learnt so much. Though the decision to leave SAEON was an incredibly tough one to make, I am looking forward to the next adventure.

I bid you adieu!

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