#03 2023

Advancing coastal predictive capabilities for a sustainable future

By Nkululeko Memela, Operational Ocean Modeller, Egagasini Node, NRF-SAEON

This year’s PredictOnTime workshop was hosted by the Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Climate Change Foundation (CMCC) in Lecce, Italy, from 11 to 13 May. Experts from diverse disciplines and stakeholders from over 20 nations gathered to discuss the progress and future direction of the Coast Predict programme. 

PredictOnTime is a core project of the UN Ocean Decade-endorsed Coast Predict programme co-designed with the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS). The primary objective of Coast Predict is to enhance our understanding and forecasting capabilities for the global coastal ocean, with a particular emphasis on natural extreme events. Through the implementation and testing of innovative integrated observing systems and forecasting techniques in selected pilot areas, this programme aims to deliver new predictive capacities, services and products for coastal regions worldwide.

Global Coastal Experiment 

The conference served as a platform to refine the Coast Predict “Global Coastal Experiment”. Participants engaged in thoughtful discussions on various aspects, including the selection of pilot sites, desired outcomes, technological advancements and the testing of hypotheses.

One significant highlight of the workshop was the proposal to designate Algoa Bay, located in South Africa, as a pilot site for testing and implementing predictive capabilities in the Southern African context.

This decision was based on the groundbreaking work presented by Nkululeko Memela, part of the SOMISANA ocean modelling team at the Egagasini Node. His presentation showcased the advances made in operational ocean modelling at SAEON as part of the National Oceans and Coastal Management System (OCIMS), a Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) project.

Alongside the work presented by Nkululeko, Prof Juliet Hermes (manager of SAEON’s Egagasini Node) gave a talk on the Coastal Observing Lab in a Box (COLaB), a project she is leading with Prof Tommy Bornman (manager of SAEON’s Elwandle Node) and a large international team which aims to support coastal observing in under-resourced countries including the Ocean Best Practices task team. This task team is co-chaired by Jethan d’Hotman of the Elwandle Node and Lucie Cocquempot of the Université de Bretagne Occidentale in Brest, France. Juliet’s presentation was well-received and follow-up meetings have been held to move this forward as an Ocean Decade project.

Prof Juliet Hermes and Nkululeko Memela at the Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Climate Change Foundation during the PredictOnTime workshop

Prof Juliet Hermes, manager of SAEON’s Egagasini Node, presenting on the Coastal Observing Lab in a Box (COLaB) project she is leading with Prof Tommy Bornman, manager of SAEON’s Elwandle Node, and a large international team which aims to support coastal observing in under-resourced countries (Photo: predictontime.org)

Key focus 

A key focus of the workshop was the importance of global collaboration and centralised planning to maximise the impact of the programme. Participants emphasised the need to establish strong cooperation among all coastal partners in terms of coastal modelling. To this end, the workshop proposed a regional structure that would provide a unique identity to each global ocean. South Africa, represented by Regions 15 and 16 (Benguela and Agulhas regions, respectively), expressed their eagerness to lead efforts in these regions and welcomed funding and support to establish regional models.

The outcomes of the PredictOnTime workshop will significantly influence future endeavours in the field of coastal predictive capabilities. Follow-up virtual meetings are scheduled with the first three selected regions, which may receive support from CMCC to initiate regional model assessments. This support would empower these regions to expand their modelling teams and enhance their in-situ data infrastructure, aligning with the objectives of the Ocean Decade.

Looking ahead… 

Plans are underway to organise an international training meeting in anticipation of the next Ocean Decade conference in Barcelona in 2024. This meeting aims to enhance collaboration among partners and ensure adherence to the adopted principles. Furthermore, it will provide scientific professionals involved in coastal modelling with invaluable skill-enhancement opportunities.

The PredictOnTime workshop marked a significant milestone in advancing coastal predictive capabilities for a sustainable future. By harnessing innovative observing systems, fostering international collaboration and supporting cutting-edge research, this programme aims to minimise risks and optimise resource management in coastal regions worldwide.

We encourage our readers to delve into the details of the conference and the Coast Predict programme by visiting the CMCC website. Stay tuned for future updates as we continue to strive towards a sustainable and resilient global coastal ocean.

Participants in the PredictOnTime workshop held in Lecce, Italy (Photo: predictontime.org)