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IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC)

Advancing knowledge and cooperation for a healthy ocean and prosperous society

Our Programme

Ocean Forecasting

What is ocean forecast?

On an everyday basis, many people rely heavily on the weather forecast to plan their life. Just like the weather forecast describing future atmospheric conditions such as air temperature, humidity, precipitation, wind etc., ocean forecast is to provide forecast on ocean conditions in terms of wave motion, ocean current, temperature and salinity stratification. A wide spectrum of ocean users can make use of ocean forecast information to prepare for, or further develop application tools and services to support their maritime activities , including navigation, search and rescue operations, coastal planning and management, ecosystem conservation, as well as disaster risk reduction and mitigation.

Ocean forecast is the application of science and technology, involving a complex process from ocean observations, data collection and assimilation, model development and validation, supercomputing and analysis. Applied research supports users of the models and develops decision tools for marine operations based on model outputs.

Why is it important for the Western Pacific and its adjacent areas?

The ocean in the Western Pacific and its adjacent areas holds vital social, economic and cultural importance to the livelihoods of people and prosperity of all countries in the region. It produces most of the world’s seafood and 80% of global mariculture, provides job opportunities and supports the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the region. The Indo-Pacific is also universally recognized as one major influence on the global climate system, and has an important role in regional ocean-climate processes such as the Asian-Australian Monsoon and also shorter time scale severe weather events such as typhoons and cyclones.

The capability of accurately forecasting the ocean system, and every advancement in ocean forecasting are crucial not only to increase our knowledge of the ocean phenomena in the region, but also to help improve safety at sea, achieve the sustainability of our ocean resources, and build resilience to ocean disasters.

What we do?

Given the limited capacity of member states for developing ocean forecasting system and the demands of member states for such a system, WESTPAC has been taking the steps to develop an ocean forecasting system since its 8th Intergovernmental Session (WESTPAC-VIII, 10-13 May 2010, Bali, Indonesia). The Sub-Commission launched a Demonstration OFS for the Southeast Asian waters in 2012 (WESTPAC-IX, 9-12 May 2012, Busan, Korea), and decided in 2015 (WESTPAC-X, 12-15 May 2015, Phuket Thailand ) to step up its effort and services in developing the OFS for a larger geographic domain (800E-1500E, 200S-25N), and higher-resolution models in selected sub-domains upon the request of participating countries.

With the long years’ development and technological advance, the latest version of Ocean Forecast System covers the global ocean, and is made freely available via the website (the website is currently undergoing maintenance). The effort has been reinforced by a close collaboration with academic and research groups, meteorological agencies, ocean resources management departments.

Meanwhile, capacity development for early career ocean professionals has been part of the development effort, with regular training and research opportunities having provided since 2011 at the Regional Training and Research Center on Ocean Dynamics and Climate (RTRC-ODC, Qingdao China), hosted by the First Institute of Oceanography, Ministry of Natural Resources of China.

The OFS (the website is currently undergoing maintenance) is based on the surface wave-tide-circulation coupled model developed by the First Institute of Oceanography (FIO), Ministry of Natural Resources, China. The circulation part is based on MOM5 (Modular Ocean Model, version 5), the wave part is MASNUM-WAM model, the atmosphere forcing is from NCEP GFS products.


Ocean Forecasting System

Pilot Ocean Forecasting System for selected sub-domains

Enhancing regional and national capacities

Research updates and publications

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