By Shezna Shums
The prospects of working out a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for finding a way forward towards gaining more knowledge and expertise in the field of Air Sea Interactions in the Northern Indian Ocean was discussed between the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA) and the University of Notre Dame yesterday.
A delegation of researchers from the United States held a seminar with officials of NARA, and several other local persons involved in Oceanography, marine biology and environment studies to ascertain a way forward to improve studies within this region’s ocean and benefit from this knowledge base in order to make more precise and better weather and natural disaster forecasts.
Dr. Terri Paluszkiewiez and Scott Harper from the office of Naval Research said that data and expertise sharing and the governed used of this information was vital in making better predictions of natural disasters, climate change and other climate related issues.
The concept of training and providing knowledge to students interested in this field was also highlighted at the seminar.
One important aspect highlighted at the seminar was the fact that very little studies have been done on the northern Indian Ocean, when compared with the amount of research and studies done on other oceans. The northern Indian Ocean is also one area which sees a number of monsoons and such studies will immensely help in the advancement of weather and climate predictions and such increased information on the northern Indian Ocean will also help ships and fishermen when they are out at sea it was agreed.
Also speaking at the seminar was Dr. Hemantha Wijesekera, Oceanographer, Naval Research Laboratory who stressed the importance of conducting more studies in the areas of the northern Indian Ocean.
Very little information is available to be used by scientists for their research in this field with regard to the northern Indian Ocean, he stressed.
Wijesekera highlighted some of the methods used by other countries in conducting research about the ocean which could be adopted by Sri Lankan scientists.
Also speaking at the Seminar was Head, National Institute of Oceanography and Marine Sciences (NIOMS) Dr. Kamal Tennakoon who said that there was a dearth of specialists in the country as many of them had left the country for better prospects.
“Human Resources is a key problem in Sri Lanka,” he said while adding that NIOMS still continues their studies around the Island, on lagoons in Trincomalee, major rivers , bays and lakes.
Tennakoon pointed out an important fact that in the southern tip of the country which sees two monsoons a year that produces enough energy for a small scale power plant.
The NIOMS also has three ocean observation centres which are located in Dondra, Trincomalee and Colombo while another centre is being planned in Jaffna.
Such centres provide forecasts from satellite data and are helpful to fishermen who can adjust their deep sea fishing trips according to the information.
Such information would help fishermen reduce their fuel, labour and time when they know exactly where and when to fish to get the best catch.
NARA, Director of Research, Dr. K. Arulananthan who also spoke at the event stated that in 2011 the Agency is looking at concentrating their efforts towards deep water studies and research.
He too highlighted that shortages of specialists in the relevant field, shortages of instruments, infrastructure and training was hindering the research capabilities of the Agency.
Research does not only include studies done about the ocean but on the cyclones affecting the country and the effects it has on agriculture and the country’s infrastructure as well as the fisheries and aquatic areas.