#01 2023

Developing ocean modelling capacity in Southern Africa: CROCO Ocean Modelling Workshop

By Jennifer Veitch, Physical Oceanographer, Egagasini Node, NRF-SAEON

As part of a joint South African–French project funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), Jennifer Veitch (SAEON) and Lionel Renault (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement – IRD) hosted a two-week ocean modelling workshop at the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) in Cape Town. 

The workshop was split into two separate weeks, the first focusing on the basics and the second on advanced aspects of the Coastal and Regional Ocean COmmunity Model (CROCO), including air-sea coupling, coupled biogeochemical modelling, sediment modelling and non-hydrostatic modelling.

The motivation for this project and indeed this workshop was not only to contribute to the vision of SAEON’s SOMISANA initiative* but also to support the development of ocean modelling capacity in Africa in general.

The workshop was a great success, largely thanks to the international experts who tirelessly gave their time to lecturing during the two weeks and to the facilities and support offered by the CHPC. The expertise provided came from far and wide. Serena Illig, Lionel Renault, Guillaume Morvan and Rachid Benshila (from LEGOS in Toulouse), Christian Ethe and Renaud Persson (from LOCEAN in Paris) and Fabien Desbiolles (from the University of Milan) lectured in person and supported the hands-on sessions. Andres Sepulveda (University of Conception, Chile), Gildas Cambon (LOPS, Brest), Patrick Marchesiello (LEGOS, Toulouse), Olivier Aumont (LOCEAN, Paris), Vincent Echevin (LOCEAN, Paris), Odette Vergara (University of Conception, Chile) and Laurent Roblou (LAERO, Toulouse) provided virtual lectures. We look forward to ongoing and developing collaborations with all of them.

Having received over a hundred applications, we were hard-pressed to select just 30 candidates (20 in-person and 10 virtual). The participants came from as far afield as Senegal and many important connections were made that will no doubt contribute to Africa’s future hub of expert ocean modellers.

Feedback from the participants via an anonymous survey includes compliments and suggestions for improvements or changes to topics. These will be used to improve the next workshop that will be held in the second half of 2023.

Lecturers and participants at the CROCO Ocean Modelling Workshop held in Cape Town

*  SOMISANA is ‘a sustained and transformed critical mass of internationally recognised South African Numerical Modelling experts who provide accurate information about the changing state of the ocean for enhanced impact’.