IOCARIBE-GOOS is a a basic source of information, services, and products to support sustainable social and economic development, welfare, and safety, through systematic observations and associated research on coasts and seas in the IOCARIBE region. It is a regional component of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS). A Strategic Plan for IOCARIBE-GOOS was endorsed by the Member States of IOCARIBE and published following their 7th session in Veracruz, 2002.
IOCARIBE-GOOS Some History
Following the formation of the GOOS in 1991 and the GOOS Regional Alliance concept in 1994, a Regional Users meeting was held in Costa Rica in 1999, led by IOC GOOS Project Office (GPO). Presented with the objectives of GOOS and the Global Coastal GOOS network, the consensus of the meeting (summarized in GOOS Report No. 84) was to move towards the formation of a GOOS Regional Alliance for the region. It was decided to form as a body under IOCARIBE, with membership comprised of all IOCARIBE member nations. The Sixth General Assembly of IOCARIBE approved the concept in 1999.
A Group of Experts was nominated by IOCARIBE and tasked to develop an ICARIBE-GOOS Strategic Plan. The Group of Experts consisted of seven members nominated by their countries, with Co-Chairs Doug Wilson of the US and Guillermo Garcia of Cuba. The Group of Experts met over the next 3 years, with meetings sponsored by Group of Experts members’ countries and the GPO. The GPO provided Administrative Assistance during the Group of Experts writing of the Strategic plan to the Chairs through a contract with the University of Miami. IOCARIBE-GOOS sponsored a Workshop at Oceanology International Americas 2001 contributing to the Strategic Plan development. By 2002 the Strategic Plan for IOCARIBE GOOS was completed, published (GOOS Report No. 115), and approved by IOCARIBE (at IOCARIBE General Assembly VIII), IOCARIBE-GOOSOOS, and IOC, and IOCARIBE-GOOS was established.
Based on the Strategic Plan, the Group of Experts charged with writing the Plan was dissolved by IOCARIBE and replaced by an Interim Steering Committee, which continued with the GoE Co-Chairs. Invitations were issued to member countries for representatives on the ISC, and the group met in 2003 (also coincident with the IOCARIBE-GOOS-sponsored Second Conference on Observing Systems for the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico - Implementation, held at the Oceanology International Americas 2003) to develop an IOCARIBE-GOOS Implementation Plan. Countries were asked to nominate SC members to carry out the Implementation Plan. The Implementation plan had four specific initial tasks, each led by a Steering Committee member: (1) Initial Observing System and Pilot Projects; (2) Assessment; (3) Capacity Building; (4) Programme Development and Coordination. Results of this meeting were published as GOOS Report No. 135.
IOCARIBE-GOOS was an active participant in the US State Department’s White Water to Blue Water Program; in 2004 US Co-Chair Doug Wilson received a grant from the US State Department to carry out Implementation tasks 1 and 2. The result was a comprehensive assessment and report to GLOSS in 2005 on the State of Sea Level Monitoring in the Caribbean Region; a lead role in the formation of the Caribbean Tsunami Early Warning System, including Founding Chair of the Working Group on Observations; Publication of “Strategic Geographic Positioning of Sea Level Gauges to Aid in Early Detection of Tsunamis in the Intra-Americas Sea”, used by the Caribbean Tsunami – Early Warning System to prioritize tsunami warning sea level sites; a workshop developing pilot IOCARIBE observing system proposals for GOOS and GCOS; and enabling the creation of the Caribbean Regional Association within the US GOOS Regional Alliance, IOOS. In recent years CIDA, the Canadian International Development Agency, has provided several interns to the IOCARIBE office, who have been able to support IOCARIBE-GOOS activities and inventories.
2007-2011, and Re-Organization
Following 2006, further efforts at implementation, including Steering Committee meetings, were essentially stopped due to lack of funding. An IOCARIBE-GOOS Implementation Plan was never completed. In 2011, with support from the US, IOCARIBE, and the GOOS Project Office, a meeting was convened to discuss the future of IOCARIBE-GOOS. The IOCARIBE Secretariat, the IOCARIBE-GOOS Co-Chairs, and participants from 7 member countries attended the meeting. The principal objectives of the meeting were:
- to evaluate the state of Ocean Observations and related Initiatives in the region;
- to renew regional and member state commitments to IOCARIBE-GOOS;
- to update the IOCARIBE-GOOS governance structure and implementation;
- to respond to actions at IOCARIBE X, the GRA Forum 4, and other recent important events.
It was recommended that the current Steering Committee be disbanded and that the IOCARIBE Sub-Commission assume its duties. It was also recommended that a working Group of Experts be empanelled and charged with advising the Sub-Committee on technical, operational and programmatic aspects of the system. The Group of Experts would act as the advisory group for IOCARIBE GOOS and would develop the Implementation Plan. The Group of Experts would be composed of nominated state representatives but outside experts could be invited as the need arose. Experts must have institutional backing, particularly in terms of travel funding. The recommended full Terms of Reference for the advisory group are listed as Annex IV in the meeting report (GOOS Report No. 188). It is expected those recommendations would be considered during IOCARIBE XII in April 2013.
Intersessional activities 2011-2013
- IOCARIBE-GOOS former Co-Chairman attended the Fifth GOOS Regional Forum in Sopot, Poland in November, 2011 to report on IOCARIBE-GOOS activities.
- In August, 2012, former Co-Chairman Doug Wilson volunteered to serve as IOCARIBE-GOOS Project Coordinator. In that capacity, he has been able to provide new support for IOCARIBE-GOOS activities.
- IOCARIBE-GOOS intern Tyler Wilson worked with the Project Coordinator to develop a database of all coastal water level and meteorological stations in the region, as well as all institutions of oceanography and meteorology. These are mapped in Google Earth on the UNESCO IOCARIBE-GOOS web site
- The Project Coordinator has attended Caribbean LME IMS / REMP meetings to better coordinate IOCARIBE-GOOS and CLME activities.
- The Project Coordinator has represented IOCARIBE-GOOS at the UN Regular Process for the World Ocean Assessment Workshop for the Wider Caribbean and serves as a member of the WOA Pool of Experts.
- The Project Coordinator represented IOCARIBE at the IOC Group III Forums for the Future and Present Status of Sustained Ocean Observations and Services. At the first Forum, for the Future of Sustained Ocean Observations and Services, the Project Coordinator agreed to lead an IOC Region III initiative to improve understanding by decision-makers of the critical importance of oceans and ocean data for the countries’ development. In addition, an initiative developed for the OECS project (next bullet) to build regional ocean forecasting capability was singled out for presentation to the JCOMM ETOOFS for consideration as a JCOMM/GOOS pilot project.
- Emergence of National Programs, including OECS countries:
Significant action has been taken by many IOCARIBE member nations towards developing National Sustained Ocean Observations and Services Programs, in many cases explicitly designated National GOOS Programs. The Project Coordinator Doug Wilson was recently contracted by OEA Technologies on behalf of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States to assess the abilities of member nations in marine monitoring and forecasting. OECS countries are Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent an the Grenadines, and Grenada. Additionally, at the IOC Group III Present Status of Sustained Ocean Observations and Services workshop, another 11 IOCARIBE countries – Brazil, Colombia, Aruba, Panama, Costa Rica, Belize, Mexico, Guatemala, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Cuba - submitted responses to questionnaires and/or presentations on Sustained Ocean Observations and Services. This gives IOCARIBE-GOOS up-to-date information from 17 of the 26 (excluding US, UK, France, and Netherlands) IOCARIBE member states. Based on this up-to-date information, the Project Coordinator was able to successfully complete the GOOS Regional Alliance Assessment for presentation to the GOOS Steering Committee, and will represent IOCARIBE-GOOS at the Sixth GOOS Regional Forum in May 2013.
Recommended Activities for Consideration
- Continue to participate on behalf of IOCARIBE in IOC Region III activities. The opportunity to work with IOC leadership (present and former Chairs and Vice-Chairs, and GOOS and JCOMM leads) will help in the development of regional capability and visibility within IOC and GOOS. This includes development of Decision Making Capacity Building and Forecasting initiatives for use within the IOCARIBE region.
- As noted, the IOC Group III Forum on the Present Status of Sustained Ocean Observations and Services had participation from 11 IOCARIBE countries. In addition to assessing the state of operational forecasting and oceanography within the region, as well as informing the country representatives about IOC, GOOS and JCOMM activities, there was an emphasis on relating the strategies developed in the first meeting to promote regional cooperation through education and capacity building. The more engaged a country is in operational oceanography and regional products, the more they might be cooperative in data sharing and supporting other countries’ programs. During the workshop there was an opportunity to hold an ad hoc IOCARIBE-GOOS meeting with the national delegates from the IOCARIBE countries. The common request from this group for IOCARIBE-GOOS was to provide support for the activities of National GOOS and Sustained Ocean Observations and Services Programs, by addressing the following:
- Sharing of Best Practices
- Promoting Data Exchange
- Coordinating support from countries with more developed operational observing and forecasting activities
- Coordinating ways to address common needs; one such noted was the need for national Buoy and other Observing Systems to support local services and forecasting activities
- Development of a Shared IOCARIBE-GOOS Asset Map. This would be an improvement the water level and met station map started by IOCARIBE-GOOS, with considerably more capability for display and sharing of regional marine observations, forecasts, and services. Similar applications are becoming standard and important regional GOOS building blocks. The asset map would provide exposure for regional activities, be a tool for forecasting resources, and provide the basis for an IOCARIBE-GOOS web presence. Its primary focus would be on operational observations and forecasting, but would integrate with other regional project data, including the CLME IMS/REMP, ODINCARSA, and Ocean Atlas. This is a relatively low cost project that would provide a tangible presence for the development of IOCARIBE-GOOS.
Member States are urged to commit their support to the sustained operation of GOOS and IOCARIBE-GOOS.
IOCARIBE-GOOS map of Caribbean meteorology stations.