Ocean forecasting system can provide crucial information of ocean circulation, sea surface temperature, ocean surface wave, sediment and marine organisms transport (larvae or planktonic form), and also for activities related to oil and gas exploration, fisheries, navigation, marine parks management and coastal recreational activities. However, an operational ocean forecasting system is yet to be developed in the Western Pacific region. In particular, generally regional capacity for ocean forecasting in the Southeast Asian region is still at infancy.
To this end, the Pilot Project was initiated by Prof. Fredolin Tangang from Malaysia and officially established by the IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) at its Eighth Intergovernmental Session of the IOC Sub-Commission for Western Pacific (WESTPAC-VIII, 10-13 May 2010, Bali, Indonesia), aiming to develop regional capability and capacity on ocean forecasting in the region. The objectives of this project are to:
1. develop an ocean forecasting system for Peninsular Malaysia eastern’s shelf and Gulf of Thailand on a demonstration basis;
2. enhance understanding of oceanographic processes in the region;
3. improve the capability and capacity on ocean modeling, particularly of young scientists in the region.
Upon the approval of WESTPAC, this project will be led by Prof. Fredolin Tangang from Malaysia with initial focus on the Peninsular Malaysia’s eastern shelf and Gulf of Thailand, through the development of wave-tide-circulation coupled model for the region. The wave-tide-circulation coupled model is developed by the First Institute of Oceanography (FIO) in which the wave model is the MASNUM wave model developed by the FIO whereas the circulation model is based on the Princeton Ocean Model (POM). This project will further foster the regional cooperation through the transfer of technology among participating countries.
During the kick-off meeting, extensive discussions were prompted on the importance of this project, scientific uncertainties to be addressed for identified oceanographic processes, funding opportunities and the need for outreach materials. The meeting decided to establish one Drafting Group, with the leadership of Prof. Fredolin Tangang, tasked to develop one comprehensive Project Document within one month in accordance with suggestions made and information provided from each participating country at the meeting, which shall provide clearer justification from scientific and social-economic needs, the identification of demonstration areas, suggested key scientific issues to be addressed at this initial phase, and proposed activities within next two years.
The meeting also considered the possibility of inter-comparison with other models in the Indian Ocean and SEA region, including the Australia-BLUElink and India Model for IOGOOS. The meeting finally reiterated that all SEAGOOS associated activities, including the inter-comparison, shall be led by and coordinated within the framework of the WESTPAC, mainly through SEAGOOS Coordinator in close consultations with the WESTPAC Secretariat.