Observations in the Indian Sector

4 December 2017

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  • Philippe Koubbi
  • Tsuneo Odate

The first meeting of the SOOS Southern Ocean Indian Sector Regional Working Group was held in Japan earlier this year.

Its aims were to identify the community of active researchers in the Indian Sector, gain consensus on the key drivers in the region, develop a picture of the status of multi-disciplinary observations and discuss key observational gaps, regional priorities and challenges.

Hosted by the National Institute for Polar Research and Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, participants gathered at Shonan Village in Hayama over five days.

Figure 1: Map (outer boundary is 30 °S; vertical line at 94 °E ) showing the spatial scope of the Southern Ocean Indian Sector Working Group and the partitioning of the sector into numbered boxes for planning and reporting of observation activities. 


The Indian Sector (Figure 1) covers the area from 20°E to 170°E and from the Antarctic continent to 40°S, with an extension further to the north to 30°S between South Africa and Australia. The extension allows overlap with the second International Indian Ocean Experiment.

Ice plays a major role in the southern part of the sector, including ice shelves, fast ice, and the annual advance and retreat of the marginal ice zone.

During the meeting presentations were given on existing marine science activities in the Indian Sector, as well as on key drivers in the region, including atmosphere, ocean, ice, productivity, and biology. They also included talks on modelling, the second Indian Ocean Experiment and the development of observing systems. A full meeting program is available for download here.

Participants agreed the spatial scope of the working group may change as the different regional working groups of SOOS become established and the potential for cross-regional coordination of measurements are investigated.

The area was partitioned into boxes based on topography, sea-ice extent, fronts and the main regions of primary production. This makes for easier reference and focus of collaborations as well as the coordination of multi-disciplinary observations and multiple platforms. Such boxes would also be useful for reporting on the implementation of SOOS in this sector.

Discussions then focused on recording national information and activities that contribute to the coloured boxes in Figure 2. They centred on how to report the following for each of the boxes of the region:

1. Key drivers important to the scientific community.
2. Important physical, chemical and biological variables (EOVs) to be observed.
3. For each nation active in the area (past, present or future):

a. Time series (how long) of observations (what types) from the past.
b. Current activities being implemented or planned (what platforms and observations).
c. A contact list for the physical, chemical and biological research communities.
d. The main repositories in which data for the region are held.

This information will be assembled into a comprehensive meeting report including summaries of the presentations, the main outcomes and actions under each of the agenda items.

Countries not represented at the workshop will be approached to contribute to these summaries and participate in the activities of the regional working group in the future. The next opportunities for meetings are in the margins of the MEASO conference in Hobart, Australia in April 2018 and in Davos, Switzerland in June 2018.

The meeting was organised by Professor Odate and Dr Moteki and co-chaired by professors Odate and Koubbi and Dr Constable. It was supported by the International Network Promotion Program of NIPR/ROIS. It was attended by 18 researchers from Japan, Australia, France, China and India with a representative from the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.  New Zealand, Republic of South Africa, Republic of Korea, Russia and USA expressed interest in the work of the group but were unable to attend this meeting.

Figure 2: Flow chart showing the main activities for the SOIS Regional Working Group to develop the observing system in the Indian Sector.  Coloured boxes represent how much the respective activities have been developed – green boxes are well developed; yellow boxes are underway but not mature; and red boxes are yet to be attended to in a systematic way for the region.

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