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The ICEMASA research component

The ICEMASA research component is split into three axes, one related to climate and atmosphere research, the second related to ecosystem and fisheries research, and one integrative axis where interdisciplinary research is developed to maximize the value of the research and to provide a broader appraisal of the effects of global change on marine ecosystems.

1. Marine, atmosphere, biogeochemistry and climate interactions (details)

These following packages focus mainly on coastal and large-scale oceanography over southern Africa. The objective is to understand the processes that make and drive ocean and atmospheric circulation around and over southern Africa via a complementary approach involving observations and numerical simulations. This will help implementing regional monitoring of the water masses and heat budgets, fresh-water and biogeochemical fluxes. These open-ocean processes have important consequences on the coastal dynamics and ecosystems stability, and contribute to short-term climate fluctuations such as prolonged droughts. Furthermore, it can have an impact on the global climate when those changes affect the Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC), or alter the oceanic absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

2. Ecosystem and fisheries research (details)

These packages focus on the understanding of the effects of global change on the major biological compartments of the marine ecosystems, by integrating knowledge, observations and models from various disciplines (behavioural ecology, trophic ecology, economy, law), adding overall value (conceptualization) by comparing various ecosystems, and disseminating useful information (indicators) to ensure an ecosystem-based management of exploited resources. Ultimately, scenarios of ecosystem changes in a context of global change will be developed.

3. Interdisciplinary research (details)

This package contains number of scientific questions that can be addressed only through an efficient interaction between atmospheric, physical and biological sciences. Climate is a driver for bottom-up controls in the marine ecosystems and the emergence of adaptive strategies at various levels of the trophic chain and at various time and spatial scales.

4. Observational  and Modelling transverse strategy

Many scientific questions adressed by the ICEMASA  require in situ data collection for process studies and long term monitoring for the assessment of the system variability and changes. The ICEMASA is a relevant structure from setting up projects aimed at complementing the existing data collection networks by pooling the technical resources as well as instruments and ship time.

A strategy to achieve optimal use of skills and human resources is defined with the ICEMASA partners. Sharing modelling tools and converging toward a limited set of models will be a high priority. For the ocean, ROMS is already shared by a large number of ICEMASA scientists. For the atmosphere, both South African and French labs have expertise with WRF (Weather and Research Forecast Model). The combination of these two codes can form the basis of a high resolution ocean-atmosphere coupled tool that will be shared by the ICEMASA partners and used to answer key questions such as:

  • what is the effect of the air-sea interactions (coastal drop off vs sea breeze, stratus and orography) in the Benguela upwelling system (RP 1.2)

  • what is the effect of the air-sea interactions (convection, winds, vertical fluxes) with the Agulhas return current and the Agulhas rings (RP 1.2)

  • what is the effect of the air-sea interactions with the Mozambique channel eddies (RP 3.2).

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