2012 Ocean Sciences Meeting

OceanCliff.jpgSalt Lake City, 20-24 February 2012

Event website

Report by Vanesa Magar, Agent and lecturer in Coastal Engineering, University of Plymouth.


  • Discovered data One during Carly Strasser's workshop (e.g. see these two example websites: one and two) something similar should be set up for software! Also discussed data management with National Ocean Data Center, part of NOAA.
  • Discussed outreach with Bob Chen and colleagues, and we had a very interesting session on networking, which was meant to be led by Adrienne Sponberg, but she could not make it. Was recommended the book Linked which has been a real eye-opener. We also discussed a concept mapping software called CLIMB which helps organise ideas for more effective collaborations / paper writing.
  • Discussed science with a number of researchers, Daniel Conley was interested in free software for high-frequency radars.

Presentation at the conference

The poster, which was presented at the conference, is available for download.

Conference report

During the first part of the conference I mostly focused on the MetOcean session. The term MetOcean is a contraction of Meteorology and Oceanology and refers to the study of winds, waves and currents at large scales (of the order of 10s to 100s of kilometres) The session had been convened by Pierre de Mey from LEGOS, Alex Kurapov from Oregon State University, and others. The session focused on the latest numerical modelling techniques applied to coastal ocean models, including new or improved formulations within the Princeton Ocean Model (POM), the Regional Ocean Modelling System (ROMS), for instance; there were also presentations on a number of data assimilation schemes for coastal and ocean problems. The only person from the UK I knew and was giving a presentation in this session was Kevin Horsburgh, from NOC-Liverpool, who specialises in storm surge modelling. There were, however, a number of participants from Plymouth University and from the University of Bangor who were presenting posters. This is very common in this conference, with more than a thousand poster presentations (there were around 3000 participants in total).

In the second part of the conference I attended sessions closer to my field of research: the nearshore processes sessions. The session was convened by Jennifer Irish and Alex Apostos and was very popular. In this session several processes at scales of centimetres, meters, and up to kilometres in some cases, were discussed. The processes related to wave, storm surges and sea level rise, and their impacts for sediment transport (at small scales) and evolution of the coastal areas (at larger scales). A number of presentations focused on experimental analyses. Some involved the use of software, such as UNIBEST for shoreline evolution; Delft3D or COAWST (a ROMS+SWAN coupler which facilitates downscaling for the coupled models) to downscale hydrodynamic conditions to the coastal zones; XBEACH for dune evolution, etc. These sessions were very useful for my research and served as a good inspiration. There was interest on the Software Sustainability Institute by Dan Conley, a colleague of mine from Plymouth. Simon Neill from the University of Bangor was in the audience during my talk, before it he discussed with me a number of problems they have been having, either with software (e.g. POLCOMS) or with HPCs. He possibly was interested in the Software Sustainability Institute but I could not catch up with him after the talk.

There were also a number of chemical and biological oceanographers in the conference, including my roommate who was from UC Davis and turned out to be one of the world-leaders on olfaction-led behaviour in birds, and was very interested in atmospheric dispersion models. We have started some serious discussions on the subject and have just started what seems to be an overseas collaboration between Plymouth, the Met Office and UCDavis. We are trying to find out how to tap on external HPC resources at the moment.

The conference was unusual in the following ways:

  • During lunchtime members of COSEE (Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence) ran a number of workshops to improve participants skills in research, networking, grant writing, etc.
  • We had two workshops on data management from very different perspectives, and I found what was discussed in both to be very relevant for software management. One of the workshops was run by Carly Strasser and the other by NODC (NASA Oceanographic Data Center).

All of the COSEE sessions they ran were very useful, and they talked about some software such as a concept map software called CLIMB. They also ran a networking workshop which was real eye-opener, and demystified the whole networking process for me. All the COSEE workshops were organised by Bob Chen, a professor in chemical oceanography from the University of Massachusetts in Boston, but run by different people.

The data management workshops were really useful, because it is becoming more and more important to collect and organise data efficiently so it can be shared. I found out that through data ONE, the site Carly Strasser discussed (see highlights above) that one can submit metadata and data in csv format, and that a doi can be assigned to a dataset, conditions on the use of the data set. Both of these would probably entice scientist to share more and to use data more effectively than before. The NODC discussed netCDF files, which is the NASA-standard data archiving format, and which is the data archiving method of preference for modellers, physical oceanographers and meteorologists in general.