In order to counter the challenge faced by the countries of the Indian Ocean Rim (IOR) in forecasting ocean-based disasters and an assessed impact of climate changes on ocean weather, National Aquatic Resources research and Development Agency(NARA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka and the Secretariat of the Indian Ocean Rim Association organized an ocean forecasting workshop to build capacity for Indian Ocean Operational System recently.
Need for such a workshop had been prominently noticed as the capacity to assess the ocean status, model them and develop and apply an operational forecasting system for ecological, economic and social objectives was not equally within the reach of all the IOR countries.
Facilitating cooperation among IOR countries to provide maximum opportunities to develop shared interest, developing infrastructure and human resources for establishing a national operational ocean forecasting for ocean based disaster mitigation through scientific and technological exchange, in adherence to the fundamental principals outlined in articles 3 of the IORA Charter was the main focus at the workshop.
Acknowledging the disparity among the IOR countries to monitor, analyse and predict marine environmental conditions in the Indian Ocean, the “Experts Group meeting on capacity building for Indian Ocean operational forecasting system” will serve as the platform to share available technology, knowledge and experts and also facilitate to build the required human resources in the Indian Ocean countries through trainings and workshops. Furthermore, it could serve as the place to compare the different sub regional ocean forecasting models, generated by the different nations and integrate them as an Indian Ocean Regional model.
Sri Lankan-born Professor of Coastal Oceanography at the University of Western Australia Charitha Pattiarachchi attending the forum said that their aim was to protect safe conditions in the ocean and for that all they needed was a strong and a high speed internet and a normal personal computer to do their modeling. “We can take satellite data and make more accurate predictions using the data assimilation”, he further added.
Pattiarachchi said scientists studying changes in ocean temperature and other characteristics for forecasts were useful for safe maritime operations like navigation ship movements, fishing and recreation of the data could be used by fishing fleets to locate potential fishing zones he said.
They have also developed tsunami forecasting models that have actually given warnings and saved lives in the Indian Ocean region.
Regional models and forecasts of large scale phenomenon such as tsunami and cyclone, developed by the leading nations, are readily available and applicable to all the Indian Ocean countries. However, all IOR countries are in need of developing and operating their own sub-regional local level models and run. operational ocean forecasting for local level phenomenon such as storm surges, unfavourable wave conditions to secure the safety of the fishermen and other ocean resources.
Even the leading nations, which have the capacity to forecast regional scale ocean disasters (tsunami, cyclone) are in need of sharing ocean data from other IOR countries to validate and inter-compare global and regional scale models in the Indian Ocean.
(Source: Nara Aquatic Research media and extention unit)