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National IMOS community gathers in WA for annual meeting
Each year the IMOS community from across Australia gets together to review the previous year, share achievements and challenges and collectively look to the future. This February, the eleventh annual IMOS meeting was held in Perth at the University of Western Australia.
Chaired by IMOS Director, Tim Moltmann, this year’s meeting was organised around three themes; Signal to noise – extracting value from datasets and time series, Operational oceanography and Marine extremes. The final day focussed on IMOS performance – assessment and improvement.
Mr Moltmann was appreciative of all the time and energy participants put into the Annual Planning Meeting and was happy with its outcomes.
“Our reflections at the Advisory Board meeting on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning were very positive.
“It was particularly useful to have senior industry representatives in attendance to share their perspectives and priorities regarding marine observations,” said Mr Moltmann.
As part of the Operational oceanography theme, Steve Buchan from RPS Metocean and Jan Flynn from Shell Australia presented.
They spoke about gaps and requirements from the perspectives of a metocean service provider and an offshore energy company. Thermal structure, biofouling, bottom boundary layers, tropical cyclone forecasting, swell, surface currents, and ocean renewables were all discussed.
The possibility of access to industry data, leveraging the Defence Department’s hydrographic data acquisition program, and improving bathymetry, was also a topic of discussion during this theme.
The need to focus on understanding user needs and how these needs evolve and change came up in a number of discussions. It was widely accepted that IMOS should continue to look for opportunities to underpin more synthesis products, as many end-users of data are seeking marine and climate information in accessible applications or packages such as IMOS OceanCurrent.
The series of talks on marine extremes highlighted some excellent work going on around Australia, and the important role that IMOS observations are playing. Known gaps in tropical fluxes and spatial coverage across the north were highlighted. The importance of relating findings back to forecast skill, and opportunities to improve it, was a key point raised.
Access to data collections and their use came up regularly throughout the meeting. An update on the Australian Ocean Data Network’s status and priorities was presented. A number of developments to this online resource have occurred over the past year and these were outlined. There was some discussion of tailoring the presentation of data to the various segments of the market, from expert users to those who only want data products.
On the final day of the meeting, the United States Consul General to WA, Rachel Cooke, called in to meet with meeting participants. Tim Moltmann and IMOS Advisory Board Chair, Ian Poiner, discussed the functions and challenges of IMOS and its linkages with the USA with Ms Cooke. IMOS facility leaders and others from the IMOS community also joined the discussion, providing their particular perspectives and discussing their groups’ contributions to marine observing in Australia.
Key messages in the IMOS Five Year Plan were highlighted during the meeting. Participants agreed on the importance of planning for future growth, notwithstanding ongoing short-term uncertainty with respect to core funding. The Five Year Plan sets out the need for a step change increase in access to autonomous vehicles, and vessel-independent capability to observe in remote regions. IMOS will need to establish processes over the next year or so to prepare for success on these fronts.
Representatives of the national IMOS community will meet again in February 2018 in Hobart, Tasmania.