The IOI-Malta Operational Centre has moved premises and is now located on Campus. This recent move is expected to facilitate and improve the Centre’s activites, especially for what concerns its delivery of ocean modeling and forecasting services as well as for a stronger collaboration with the other University departments whose interests are scientifically and technically linked to the sea. The move also places the centre closer university students, graduates and professionals who can benefit from the Centre’s various services, projects and activities.
IOI-MOC was established in 1993 through collaboration between the International Ocean Institute and the University of Malta. The programme of activities of the Centre focuses on oceanographic research, in a holistic perspective, with a specialization on the physical aspects of the sea; training and teaching through specialized courses, especially in relation to ocean governance and the Law of the Sea’s managerial as well as scientific obligations on coastal states; promoting awareness on the marine environment, on its naturalistic, scientific and cultural connotations, especially with the younger generation; and promoting an inter-sectorial approach in marine affairs at national level by sustaining the interaction between local institutions that are active and have marine-related responsibilities.
Marine research at IOI-MOC is carried out by the Physical Oceanography Unit. The main focus is on operational oceanography with the setting up of routine meteo/marine data acquisition and forecasting systems. The research activities are predominantly on the experimental study and numerical modelling of the hydrodynamics of the sea in the vicinity of the Maltese Islands. Since 1992, when it was first set up under the MCST, the PO-Unit has pioneered in making local observations of sea currents, sea level, coastal meteorological parameters through dedicated coastal and moored open sea stations. Observations in real-time from stations in Portomaso and Marsaxlokk can be viewed from the capemalta website. It has since strengthened its activities, know-how and capability through participation in several EU funded regional scientific projects, including MFSTEP and MEDAR/MEDATLAS in FP4; SEASEARCH, ESEAS-RI and MFSTEP in FP5, SESAME, ECOOP, SEADATANET in FP6, as well as two INTERREG projects, WERMED and RISKMED, and MAPRES. This has allowed the PO-Unit to gain high international recognition and profile, and is today partner in several European and Mediterranean networks like ESEAS (the European Sea Level Service), MedGLOSS (the Mediterranean regional subsystem of the Global Sea Level Observing System with a local station for real-time sea level, sea temperature and atmospheric pressure measurements in Portomaso), and MOON (the Mediterranean Operational Oceanography Network).
The PO-Unit offers facilities for the gathering, processing, analysis and management of high quality physical oceanographic observations both for long term and baseline studies as well as for general applications in marine environmental research and assessments. It offers routine online meteo-marine bulletins for the area around the Maltese Islands through the ROSARIO II marine forecasting system and the MARIA/ETA atmospheric modelling system. These services offer daily forecasts of sea currents, sea temperature, atmospheric conditions and waves. The Unit also acts as the national oceanographic data centre and promotes the IOC/IODE products and activities in Malta. It provides support to local entities involved in marine research and monitoring, to collect and maintain oceanographic data according to international standards. Through its Malta Blue Pages, it offers an online directory for ocean & marine data and information, and provides a single-point online reference for a number of marine data sources and descriptions in the field of oceanography and the marine environment in Malta.
The Centre is also one of the operational arms of the International Ocean Insitute, which has its Headquarters in Malta, and seeks to promote its mission and goals, specifically to enhance the peaceful uses of ocean space and its resources, their management and regulation as well as the protection and conservation of the marine environment, guided by the principle of the Common Heritage of Mankind. IOI-MOC participates in IOI’s system wide initiatives like the Women, Youth and the Sea Programme through various projects. IOI-Kids, for example, is a website on the sea for school children and youngsters. IOI-MOC also organizes and runs the annual five-week international Training course on Regional Ocean Governance for the Mediterranean, Black Sea region and Eastern European countries, which is also accredited by the University of Malta. Another major contribution to the IOI’s mission was the organization and hosting of the international Pacem in Maribus XXXII conference, held last year in November in Malta, which focused on the role of youth and women in ocean affairs.
For further information about IOI-MOC and all its projects and services, visit the website or its offices at level 3 of the Chemistry Building, University of Malta.