Sunday, May 22, 2011

NOAA and ASCLME Partner in Managing Ocean Ecosystems

Representatives from NOAA and the Agulhas-Somali Currents Large Marine Ecosystem (ASCLME) recently formalized an agreement that will help African and Indian Ocean states better manage their ocean ecosystems and resources. The collaboration will support the collection of much-needed data and provide NOAA with shiptime from the region to improve weather forecasts and provide climate information. This agreement also fills the remaining gap of the Tropical Moored Buoy Array so that it spans the Pacific, Atlantic, and now Indian oceans.

During the past three years, a partnership and collaborative understanding has been growing in this region between NOAA and the ASCLME Project, which is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The project represents the interests of nine countries in the western Indian Ocean—Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, and Tanzania—with France also engaged as an observer country.

NOAA and UNDP will work together for the next five years to launch and maintain long-term monitoring systems in the western Indian Ocean. These systems consist primarily of offshore ocean-atmosphere data collection buoys, known as the Research Moored Array for African-Asian-Australian Monsoon Analysis and Prediction (RAMA). RAMA will acquire data for monitoring ocean conditions and for models that eventually will be part of an early warning system for monsoons, climate change, droughts, floods and ecosystem variability.

The agreement also provides for technical training in mooring deployment and maintenance as well as data analysis, and provides research vessels to NOAA for this work. The African Monitoring of the Environment for Sustainable Development, a European Union Satellite consortium, also participated in this workshop and plans to couple their remote sensing with in-situ ocean observations of the Data Buoy Cooperation Panel, which collects data from the autonomous Argo floats and other devices.


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