ESSO - Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services

(An Autonomous Body under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Govt. of India)
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Chair : Peter Pissierssens
Rapporteurs : Mika Odido, Grant Ellis

Peter Pissierssens presented a paper on “Ocean information technology and how IOGOOS could be involved” and another on;OceanTeacher.;

The International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) network was established by the IOC in 1960 to:

  • facilitate and promote the exchange of oceanographic data and information.
  • develop standards, formats, and methods for the global exchange of oceanographic data and information.
  • assist member states to acquire the necessary capacity to manage oceanographic data and information and become partners in the IODE network.

Over 60 centres have been established; these include Designated National Agencies (DNAs), National Oceanographic Data and Information Centers (NODCs), Responsible National Oceanographic Data Centers (RNODCs) and World Data Centers–Oceanography (WDCs).

OceanTeacher is a comprehensive self-training and resource tool, designed to assist managers and staff members to set up and run the new IODE centres. It contains a range of marine data-management and information-management materials, including software, quality control and analysis strategies, training materials, and relevant IOC documents. The kit provides information on global data and information archiving, standard formats, and the software tools to perform many quality control, subsetting, and analytical procedures. The kit is accompanied by manuals and regional data sets used in training courses. It can also be accessed at

Mika Odido presented a paper on “Ocean Data and Information Network for Africa (ODINAFRICA)."

ODINAFRICA aims at enabling IOC member states in Africa to develop national capability to: manage ocean data and information; develop national capability to prepare ocean data and information products; provide related services; facilitate access to ocean data and information available from the global IODE data-center network; and integrate African ocean science expertise fully into the global research environment by promoting indigenous ocean research through the development of African ocean and information data bases and related products. The experience acquired by ODINAFRICA could be used in the Indian Ocean as a whole, at least until such time as an analogous body is established for the Indian Ocean, if so decided.

Desiderius Masalu presented a paper on “ODINAFRICA in Tanzania.”

The data centre in Tanzania has focused on development of data bases and products for integrated coastal management by involving several institutions in Tanzania. These include a catalogue of library holdings, a directory of marine and freshwater institutions, a metadata base of relevant data held by institutions and individuals in Tanzania.

Rondolph Payet presented a paper on “ODINAFRICA: Capabilities in the context of Indian Ocean GOOS Seychelles experiences.”

The ODINAFRICA data center is creating a marine atlas and has generated products for local applications, such as resource management, using a wide range of data sets from various sources, such as the World Ocean Data-base collection, data from the Seychelles Coast Guard, the Seychelles Fishing Authority and the Climate Data Center.

Mohomudally Beebeejaun presented a paper on “Ocean Data and Information Management in Mauritius.”

The key areas to be addressed by their ODINAFRICA data center include coastal erosion, storm surges, tidal waves and sea-level rise. He stressed the importance of data acquisition, archiving and management, and data analysis leading to usable products to help solve many of the serious problems faced by the countries of the Indian Ocean,not least the small-island states.

K. Radhakrishnan presented a paper on “Ocean Data and Information Management in India.”

The Indian National Center for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) was established in 1999. Several marine institutions contribute to the data bases and products maintained by the center. The areas of focus include ocean-observing systems, satellite oceanography, modeling and data assimilation, and data management. INCOIS has excellent facilities which can be used for IOGOOS training workshops.

Neville Smith presented a paper on “Ocean Information Technology: New Opportunities for Marine Data Management.”

He emphasized the need to align ocean-data management more closely with evolving information technology. There is a need to improve the telemetry, uptake of technology, mode of data transport, and links with the scientific community, in order to create an efficient and effective data and information management system for the ocean and marine environment.

The Workshop then discussed the data and information requirements for IOGOOS and how these could be addressed.

Gary Meyers noted that the data and data products required for the Ocean Dynamics and Climate pilot projects are composed of two streams: (1) large-scale data products and analyses on a global scale (e.g. climate prediction, ocean state, weather products, wave products); and (2) local scale. The data and data products on the local scale are lacking and will require special efforts in the region to develop them. There may also be some problems of down-scaling data products from the large scale to the local scale, but "external" sources (e.g. Global GOOS) could be combined with "local sources" (e.g. IOGOOS), if downscaling problems can be overcome.

Tom Malone pointed out that coastal data is nearly always "local". In general, the diversity of data required for the proposed IOGOOS pilot projects is huge and varies from country to country. In addition, very few data-management systems are available in the region to deal with these data. The challenges will therefore be substantial, but so will be the benefits if the necessary systems can be put in place. A clearing-house mechanism will be necessary to assemble and make available the relevant data. He reminded participants that the Coastal Ocean Observing Workshop had recommended that a network of coastal laboratories, possibly with data-management capability, be established in the region.

Mervyn Lynch informed the Workshop that there is limited experience in the remote-sensing community concerned with the IOGOOS program. Quite independently and to serve their own needs, the wider remote-sensing community has established data centers, sets of data products, quality control procedures, and metadata-base management systems. However, there are some areas of concern, such as the often onerous access to such data, the need for validation of remote-sensing data with field data and their proper integration, product consistency across laboratories for the same sensor, or product consistency between different/new sensors. The Ocean Dynamics and Climate pilot projects would probably be well served by remote-sensing products through a variety of national agencies, but it would be necessary to determine whether products needed to be added or improved in order to fully meet IOGOOS (and GOOS) needs. On the other hand, the requirements of the Coastal Ocean Observing pilot projects were complex and would need special attention. Capacity-building would be essential, taking especially into account questions of compliance with data policy, user training, development of climatological ocean products and GIS, if the IOGOOS Coastal Ocean Observing pilot projects, in particular, are to be successfully carried out.

Peter Pissierssens felt that independent local data management was still a long way off, but ODINAFRICA data centers could help in the Indian Ocean; so could POGO and INCOIS. The present weakness of the IODE data-center system was the still relative separation of the data-management community from the wider user community. Even if co-location is not essential, the integration of data acquisition, management, and access is; in any case, access to data and use of data products must be made fully comprehensible to the users. However, the establishment of new data centers is costly, so it is better to develop or adapt the capabilities of existing centers to specific regional needs, such as those of IOGOOS.

The Workshop concluded that the development of a data and information management plan should be included in the terms of reference of the IOGOOS Development Committee.

It recommended that a survey be undertaken to identify and document in detail all existing ocean-data and management facilities in the region. This will enable the identification of suitable data- and information-management partners able to handle all relevant data types and develop the required data products and services. Particular attention should be given to whether these centers are covering or can cover all data types relevant to IOGOOS.

The Workshop also recommended that IOC approach POGO with a view to obtaining fellowships to enable data managers from the IOGOOS region to undertake internships, although it was noted that data management was currently not identified as a priority area by POGO. Since data management will be an essential component of IOGOOS activities, the Workshop called on POGO to reconsider its position with respect to this matter.

The Workshop noted that OceanTeacher currently focused mainly on delayed-mode data management, and recommended that additional modules be developed responding to the requirements of the IOGOOS Coastal Ocean Observing pilot projects, the Ocean Dynamics and Climate pilot projects, and the relevant satellite applications. The Workshop therefore requested assistance from POGO in identifying suitable content authors within the POGO membership to help produce new modules of OceanTeacher.

The Workshop stressed the need to fully exploit existing data and information management facilities before establishing new ones. It appreciated the success of the ODINAFRICA project in assisting African countries to establish national oceanographic data (and information) centers that now provide a full range of user-focused data and information services and products.

Since it was agreed that the ODIN strategy should benefit the entire region, the Workshop therefore recommended the development of an ODIN project for IOCINDIO, complementing ODINAFRICA.

The Workshop noted that resources allocated to data and information management were often minimal at the national and regional level, and strongly urged the member states participating in the Indian Ocean GOOS Regional Alliance to increase their levels of support to ensure sustained, high-quality data and information management.