Indo-Norwegian agreement on developing operational ocean forecasting for the Indian Ocean.

An agreement was today signed in Hyderabad at the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services between Norwegian and India partners. The aim of the cooperation is to develop an operational ocean modelling and data assimilation system for the Indian Ocean – the TOPAZ Indian Ocean forecasting system.

The parties from Norway are the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center (NERSC) and the University of Bergen (UoB), both in Bergen, Norway, and from India the Nansen Environmental Research Centre – India (NERCI) in Kochi, Kerala and Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) in Hyderabad. The agreement was signed by Dr. Shailesh Nayak, Director INCOIS, Mr. Lasse H. Pettersson, Director international relations NERSC, Prof. N.R. Menon, Director of the Board NERCI and Sigmund Grønmo, Rector UoB (in absence). Dr. Laurent Bertino Co-Dirctor of the Mohn-Sverdrup Center at NERSC, Research Director Dr. K. Ajith Joseph from NERCI and INCOIS staff was present at the function. The agreement on cooperation has been initiated by Professor Ola M. Johannessen, Founding Director of NERSC and Dr. Shailesh Nayak.

The Mohn-Sverdrup Center for Global Ocean Studies and Operational Oceanography at NERSC in Bergen has been developing the operational TOPAZ ocean forecasting and data assimilation system during more than 10 years. The TOPAZ system is based on the HYCOM ocean circulation model and advanced ensemble methods for assimilation of satellite data and in-situ observations in the model in order to reduce the uncertainties of the forecast. Currently the TOPAZ system is in operations for the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans and has also been implemented for the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is used in nested mode for high-resolution modelling in several regional seas, including the Gulf of Mexico, the South China Sea, the Agulhas Current and the Barents Sea.

The TOPAZ Indian Ocean system has been implemented, assessed and used by a group of scientists in Bergen and Kochi. Under the agreement signed today, the development and validation work of the TOPAZ Indian Ocean forecasting system will progress jointly in Bergen, Kochi and Hyderabad. The goal of the agreement is that the TOPAZ Indian Ocean forecasting system should be used operationally at INCOIS for operational forecasting for the Indian Ocean, including nested higher resolution models for the coastal regions in both the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.

The Nansen Scientific Society in Bergen has initially supported the cooperation through the donation of a three years scholarship and travel expenses for two Indian Doctoral (Ph.D.) Candidates at INCOIS to be visiting NERSC and the University of Bergen during three months per year. INCOIS will support the national stipends during the three years for the two Candidates. The agreement will also be the foundation for an extensive scientific cooperation and exchange of scientists and additional Ph.D. Candidates.

The Partners:

INCOIS has been as key role in the Indian Ocean providing, ocean, information and services to the society, academia and government. The main goal of INCOIS is to develop the capability to forecast ocean parameters and parameters such as fish stocks, ocean state, tsunami etc. for societal and economic benefit.

NERCI was founded in 1998 as a non-profit research Centre between Norwegian and Indian partners. Located in Cochin, India, the Centre focuses on basic and applied research and assessment related to environmental, ecological and climate issues of regional interest concerning India and central Asia.

The University of Bergen was founded in 1946 and has through its 50 years developed seven faculties with approximately 90 institutes. The University has a staff of more than 3000 and hosts approximately 16000 students.

NERSC is a non-profit research foundation established in 1986 in affiliation with the University of Bergen. NERSC performs environmental and climate research on a contract basis with government research council and industry. In 2007 the Centre employed 62 persons, including 16 Ph.D. and four Master students.

Dr. Shailesh Nayak, Director INCOIS, Phone: +91 9441013377.
Lasse H. Pettersson, Director International relations, NERSC, Phone: +47 93223563
Prof. Ola M. Johannessen, Founding Director, NERSC, Phone: + 47 90135336
Dr. K. Ajith Joseph, Research NERCI, Phone: + 91 9447325564

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