IMOS ocean observations underpin unique post-graduate course in Sydney
The Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) Ocean portal is a valuable resource for researchers and others with an interest in ocean measurements such as currents, temperature, salinity and animal movements. A post-graduate degree course based on this data and its applications is being taught in Sydney in a unique collaboration of universities.
For the past three years the Sydney Institute for Marine Science (SIMS), in partnership with Macquarie University, the University of NSW, the University of Sydney and the University of Technology Sydney, has been running a Master’s degree course called Topics in Australian Marine Science (TAMS). This course is unique in that the core of the course is built around IMOS - understanding how different measurement platforms work and exploring the data that these platforms collect. Students combine attending seminars and lectures with hands on practicals and personal assignments, all built around access to IMOS data and the many tools available to visualise and analyse it.
Dr Roger Proctor, who leads the e-Marine Information Infrastructure (eMII) team that aggregates data from facilities all over Australia, said ‘IMOS is collecting unprecedented volumes of multi-disciplinary oceanographic data in the ocean and on the continental shelf which is made freely available through the IMOS Ocean Portal.
‘Students and lecturers are able to integrate these ‘real’ observations into the classroom while learning how to use the various tools available to manipulate these data.’
Since its inception, the popularity of the course has increased with 38 students undertaking the subject in 2014. Dr Jason Everett, the TAMS coordinator, speaks enthusiastically about the course and how it benefits the students.
'The course attracts a diverse cohort, including mature-age students, international students and recent graduates who are looking to increase their skill base prior to entering the workforce,' he said.
'Our students are interested in a range of career options from research to management. They find that the IMOS Ocean Portal and the other visualisation tools we make available to them, enable them to study the marine environment without the need for high level computational skills.'
Ms Katherine Tattersall and Dr Xavier Hoenner of eMII in Hobart travelled to Sydney for the first week of the course to deliver the ‘Introduction to the IMOS Ocean Portal’ component. They found the students were eager to learn how to access the wealth of ocean data and make use of it.
‘This is a fantastic opportunity for these students to learn about IMOS and the wealth of data available to them. It was great to see them quickly pick up on how to interact with the IMOS Ocean Portal and download publicly-available data,’ said Ms Tattersall.
‘I’m excited to know that they will go forward and apply their knowledge to real problems.’
Over the course of 14 weeks students will learn how to access data from, among other sources, satellite remote sensing, animal tagging and monitoring, autonomous underwater vehicles and ocean moorings.
Students from the course can go on to a variety of careers where ocean data is used. These include research positions as well as jobs in private industry where ocean data form important foundations for decisions in shipping, fishing and other marine-based industries.