Moninya Roughan and MetOcean Solutions awarded $11.5 million NZ Endeavour grant

A new research project led by the NZ MetService’s oceanography division, MetOcean Solutions, will examine the role of ocean circulation on New Zealand’s seafood sector.

The Moana Project was awarded $11.5 million over five years from the NZ Government Endeavour Fund, which invests in scientific research that positively benefits New Zealand’s economy, environment, and society. The proposal was led by MetOcean Solutions’ Chief Scientist Professor and UNSW Associate Professor Moninya Roughan.

“The Tasman Sea is warming at one of the fastest rates on Earth, four times the global average,” said Professor Roughan, “yet we currently have limited ability to comprehensively measure, monitor and predict the state of New Zealand’s oceans. This programme will create a new, dynamic and more integrated marine knowledge base – reducing uncertainty, maximising opportunity and preparing for future ocean changes.”

The Moana Project is a cross-institutional programme involving oceanographic research organisations, universities, and end-users in industry and government across New Zealand. The team will also collaborate with international experts from UNSW Sydney and the United States.

The project will improve understanding of coastal ocean circulation, connectivity and marine heatwaves to provide information that will support sustainable growth of the seafood industry (Māori, fisheries and aquaculture). Project partners will apply the internet of things concept to develop a low-cost ocean temperature profiler that will be deployed by the fishing communities ‘on all boats, at all times’. New Zealand’s first open-access ocean forecast system will be delivered by developing new ocean circulation models using a combination of advanced numerics, modern genomics and data from smart ocean sensors.

The project will investigate the drivers and impacts of marine heatwaves so that they can be predicted, and investigate ocean transport pathways and population connectivity of seafood species. This project will provide a step-change in the oceanic information available to the seafood sector and the broader community, accessible through the open-access user-friendly datasets and tools developed.

Professor Roughan says: “We are partnering with the seafood sector to develop a low-cost ocean sensor that will revolutionise ocean data collection. The sensors will be deployed throughout New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone with support from the commercial fishing sector.”

The Endeavour Fund aims to promote Vision Mātauranga, the New Zealand Government’s science policy framework to unlock the science and innovation potential of Māori knowledge (mātauranga), resources and people for the benefit of all New Zealanders. The Moana Project is anchored in mātauranga Māori through the partners’ relationship with the Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board, facilitating exchange of oceanographic knowledge between Māori and western science.

 

PhD Project: Observation Impact Assessment of Future High-resolution Observations

Observing System Simulation Experiments (OSSEs) are a recent innovation in ocean modelling, adapted from meteorology, that use synthetic ocean observations to inform future observational strategies, e.g an artificial temperature record from a ‘toy’ glider, or sea-surface height observations from a future satellite. By assimilating these synthetic observations into a numerical model, we will investigate how well the data-stream improves the model estimates, thus guiding future observing strategies.

In this project, we will perform OSSEs to provide valuable support for the next generation of high-res ocean observing systems, both in Australia (through IMOS) and Internationally. An international example is NASA’s Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission (http://swot.jpl.nasa.gov), a ground-breaking future satellite to be launched in 2021. SWOT will use pioneering wide-swath radar interferometry to measure ocean features as small as 2km — more than ten times the resolution of current technologies. By comparing simulated SWOT observations with the model “truth”, we will establish a valuable baseline for calibration and validation of real SWOT data once it is launched in 2021. This project will be co-supervised by Dr Shane Keating (UNSW), Moninya Roughan (UNSW), Dr Colette Kerry (UNSW) and Dr Patrice Klein (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory).

This projects is part of an ARC-funded research grant to develop an end-to-end ocean weather information system. Applicants require a research B.Sc. (Hons) or research Masters degree preferably in physics, mathematics, oceanography or quantitative Marine Science. Candidates are expected to apply for a Domestic Research Scholarship (Australian residents) or International Research Scholarship (non-residents). Successful applicants will be eligible for an additional top-up scholarship of $5000+ per annum for cost-of-living expenses. See here for online applications and key dates.

Applications close 12 October for commencement in 2019.

PhD Project: Observation Impact Assessment using Data Assimilation

Quantifying the impact of new high-resolution ocean observations – such as autonomous gliders, coastal radar, or satellite imagery – is critical for the efficient deployment of observing infrastructure. In this project, we will quantify how particular observing platforms contribute to ocean state estimates, allowing us to determine the most effective locations and parameters to observe, e.g targeting extremely expensive ship-based sampling vs agile autonomous glider measurements to areas where they will add most value.

Data Assimilation (DA) is a powerful tool used to combine observations with a numerical model to produce a “best estimate” of the ocean state. We will perform a series of DA experiments to test the sensitivity of the estimated ocean state to various observation platforms. The results of this project will assist in guiding the types and location of observations that will best improve the model forecasts at the least cost. This project will be co-supervised by Dr Colette Kerry (UNSW), Prof Brian Powell (U. Hawaii), Prof Moninya Roughan (UNSW), and Dr Shane Keating (UNSW).

This projects is part of an ARC-funded research grant to develop an end-to-end ocean weather information system. Applicants require a research B.Sc. (Hons) or research Masters degree preferably in physics, mathematics, oceanography or quantitative Marine Science. Candidates are expected to apply for a Domestic Research Scholarship (Australian residents) or International Research Scholarship (non-residents). Successful applicants will be eligible for an additional top-up scholarship of $5000+ per annum for cost-of-living expenses. See here for online applications and key dates.

Applications close 12 October for commencement in 2019.

Moninya Roughan

I strive to create an inclusive work environment for my team that represents the diversity found in our society. My goal is to make a fundamental contribution to oceanography in Australasia and internationally. To do this, I support my team to be the best that they can be while solving exciting problems and undertaking industry relevant research.

Presently I lead a vibrant team of coastal and regional oceanographers. We investigate the complex dynamical processes occurring on the continental shelf of SE Australia through a combination of observations and numerical modelling. I co-lead the NSW node of Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System, and I lead the coastal moorings radar and glider program within the state of NSW. I supervise Phd Students, postdocs and marine technicians all of whom are striving to understand the challenging and complex oceanic environment.

Links:

MetOcean Solutions Ltd, New Zealand
UNSW Coastal and Regional Oceanography Lab
UNSW School of Mathematics and Statistics

Follow me on Twitter: @moninya