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OceanPredict ‘19: A gathering of the greatest minds in operational oceanography

By Jennifer Veitch, Numerical Modeller and SOMISANA Project Manager, SAEON Egagasini Node
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The European component of the Global Ocean Observing System (EuroGOOS) defines operational oceanography as ‘the activity of systematic and long-term routine measurements of the seas and oceans and atmosphere, and their rapid interpretation and dissemination’.

As a derived operational oceanography product, ocean forecasting via numerical models and the assimilation of real-time observational data has made great strides forward since the development of supercomputers and the launch of Earth-observing satellites some four decades ago. Many of these developments have been made under the auspices of the Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment (GODAE).

GODAE OceanView hosted the OceanPredict ‘19 Symposium in the beautiful seaside town of Halifax, on the Canadian east coast, in May 2019. The objectives were not only to develop common strategies for the future of operational oceanography, but also to enhance stakeholder engagement mechanisms.

As such the themes varied widely from the rather technical ‘numerical modelling’ and ‘data assimilation’ sessions to the more applied and general ‘user applications and societal benefit’ and ‘ocean prediction systems and services’.

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Ocean scientists, ocean observation specialists, industry representatives, service providers and users of ocean data and products from across the international operational oceanography community gathered in Halifax for the GODAE OceanView Symposium, OceanPredict ‘19

South African modelling activities

Jennifer Veitch represented SAEON and the then Department of Environmental Affairs at the symposium. She presented South African modelling activities as well as our operational ocean modelling initiative – Sustainable Ocean Modelling Initiative: A South African Approach (SOMISANA). The vision of SOMISANA is to facilitate the local development and sustainability of an operational ocean current forecast system for the South African exclusive economic zone and to do so in a transformative fashion.

Contact was established with various experts who have been strongly involved with the development of operational oceanography and forecasting systems, some that are well-resourced and well-developed and others that are still in their development phase. Both perspectives provided extremely valuable insight for the South African context.

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