The first International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE) conducted between 1960-1965 was characterized by a regionally broad set of cruise transits across the Indian Ocean basin from 46 research vessels under 14 different flags. It was launched during a time when the number of academic research fleets globally was on a steep rise, beginning in 1950 and culminating in a peak by the late 1970’s.
At the 50th Anniversary of IIOE, the 2nd International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE-2), launched in December, 2015 after three years of planning by the international scientific community, is especially important in leveraging new knowledge and new technologies within the rapidly developing Indian Ocean region.
IIOE-2 comes at a time, however, when the global fleet of research vessels is near the end of a long-term downsizing trend, exacerbated by recent global economic downturn and constraints on science and infrastructure funding. The academic research vessel fleet available today for contribution to IIOE-2 research is smaller and under greater financial pressure than it was fifty years ago.
IIOE-2 will integrate a more robust set of technologies to inform a broader array of critical science questions and global societal and environmental issues, but under increasing resource constraints. The strategic imperative for IIOE-2 is how to achieve more scientific output with fewer and more carefully targeted resources.
“The Global Oceans model supports and aligns very well with everything we are trying to do in the 2nd International Indian Ocean Expedition. We think their involvement could be crucial to getting the resources we need into the Indian Ocean within the 2015-2020 timeframe.”
Raleigh Hood, Ph.D. Professor, Biological Oceanography, University of Maryland, Center for Environmental Science, College Park, Maryland, USA; Committee Chair, SIBER Indian Ocean Research Planning Committee, and Science Plan Co-Author for the 2nd International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE-2)
An Adaptive Capacity to Mobilize Platforms is Crucial
Global Oceans participated in the IIOE-2 planning process at Reference Group meetings in Qingdao, China in 2013; Phuket, Thailand in 2014; and Hyderabad, India in 2015; and co-chaired the Operational Coordination Working Group and its contribution to the IIOE-2 Implementation Strategy. The rationale for organizing regionally-deployed MARVs was integrated into the broader operational plan as an adaptive, demand-driven strategy to fill resource gaps and to enable broader scientific collaboration, regional capacity development and cost sharing.
To facilitate this strategy Global Oceans will establish and host IIOE-2 project modules for participating scientists on its GOCEPT platform for expedition planning; and plans to hire a dedicated Program Director for the Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific Region to be located in Perth, Australia. Our collaboration with the JCOMM in situ Observations Programme Support Centre (JCOMMOPS) in Brest, France, which operates the global arrays of fixed data buoys, the Argo float network, and other data collection assets for the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), will include data and map file integration between the JCOMMOPS portal and GOCEPT for more integrated planning.
Mathieu Belbeoch, Argo Technical Coordinator for JCOMMOPS and lead collaborator for the Global Oceans/JCOMMOPS/GOCEPT project for IIOE-2, stated:
“JCOMMOPS supports the Global Oceans MARV strategy of adapting regionally chartered platforms to support multidisciplinary IIOE-2 science, complementary to participating institutional research vessels. This adaptive, needs-driven approach is one we hope will be proven as a cost-effective, collaborative strategy that could persist as a viable regional model for continuing study of the Indian Ocean into the future – and worldwide.”
Configuring MARVs for the Expedition
The fulfillment of the IIOE-2 Science Plan is predicated on a bottom-up process from the scientific community and is tied to the success of funded research proposals to gain placement on research vessels where and when they are needed.
In the context of the decentralized, self-organizing nature of IIOE-2, Global Oceans has proposed an analytical and expedition proposal approach to organizing needed expeditions, conducted in collaboration with the IIOE-2 Steering Committee and Joint Program Offices in Australia and India. The GOCEPT platform will be enabled to support this process by aggregating planned research around scientific and logistical needs, hosting input from scientists, and visualizing options within GIS map layers for new expeditions.
Special Advisor for Capacity Development
Scientific capacity development is an educational and cultural process that is increasingly crucial for enabling nations and societies to develop and implement scientific and engineering solutions to regional issues such as poverty reduction, human health and sustainable growth. The IIOE-2 initiative is an especially important opportunity to ensure that needed resources are made available to scientists from Indian Ocean basin nations, and that opportunities for international collaboration, training and capacity building are enabled.
To engage more effectively in this process, Venugopalan Ittekkot, Ph.D. Biogeochemistry is serving as Global Oceans Special Advisor for Capacity Development. He will assist in developing and aligning MARV-based expeditions to support technical training for scientists in developing regions, with a particular focus on the IIOE-2 initiative. He was formerly Director at the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Ecology at the University of Bremen (2000-2010) and Director at the Institute of Biogeochemistry and Marine Chemistry at the University of Hamburg (1993-2000).
Dr. Ittekkot initiated and coordinated several of Germany’s bilateral marine research and capacity-building programs with countries in South America, Southern Africa and South and Southeast Asia, and has participated in and led many oceanographic research expeditions.
Prof. Ittekkot stated:
“For ocean research and training many developing nations are still heavily dependent on research vessels of other nations both within and outside the region. The problem of vessels has remained acute especially for island nations with vast ocean space within their national jurisdiction requiring attention. Sharing of facilities and infrastructure within regional and international networking and programs has been an option. The sporadic nature of opportunities and the limited access to research vessels have however frustrated sustained capacity building efforts in many developing countries.
“Developing countries now have the opportunity of taking advantage of Global Oceans’ approach to design and implement programs to continuously upgrade skills and infrastructure. International programs with regional foci have in the past contributed to strengthening oceanography especially in developing countries.The IIOE 2 is one such program in which Global Oceans is a partner. Especially for the Indian Ocean Rim Countries lacking in infrastructure and vessels this provides an opportunity to effectively participate and contribute while addressing their specific research and training needs.
“The new generation of scientists and policy makers from developing countries aspire for a more active role in setting the regional and international agenda on the use of the oceans…Providing them with the necessary tools and opportunities needs to be an important goal of any international agenda for sustainable development.”