Operational Oceanography (LeTraon et al. 1999) is the long-term and routine delivery of forecasts over the Oceans with a consistent quality and a very high level of availability. Operational oceanographers produce these forecasts using large, computer run numerical models which assimilate measurement data in order to mimic the physical and biological state and dynamics of the oceans. These models are fed with data provided by satellites and by in-situ observing instruments like buoys and drifters. The models are run and regularly fed with new data, with the resulting state estimates and forecasts distributed to the users. Users may utilise the
European Space Agency-ESTEC, Noordwijk, the Netherlands e-mail: [email protected]
P. Olla (ed.), Space Technologies for the Benefit of Human Society and Earth, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4020-9573-3.4, © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009
output of the models directly, or they can use them as input to more sophisticated value-adding services, for example; more efficient or lower risk ship routing— taking currents, sea-state and hazardous sea state and weather into account; or monitoring of oil spills or harmful algae blooms for provision of bathing or aquaculture alerts. Chile is the largest producer of farmed salmon with exports accounting for 1 Billion USD per year. In 2004 the industry reported an estimated 50 Million USD loss per year from Harmful Algal Blooms.
Operational oceanography products and derived service fulfill a clear social and economic need and they can be used as tools to help in the decision-making of public or private institutions. Operational oceanography products can be used to save lives, to protect infrastructure and to increase the economic efficiency of activities
related with the ocean and the coastline. Operational oceanography is following with some delay the path followed by operational meteorology in the past. As in the case of meteorology, the delivery of operational oceanography products requires the cooperation of many autonomous actors and the use of many complex systems. The capability to deliver Operational Oceanography services is a emerging property of the cooperation of these independent and complex systems.
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