On November 28, a new 2-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Chinese National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center (NMEFC) and Mercator Ocean International (MOi). The purpose of this MoU is to enrich and enhance the cooperation in the field of operational oceanography and to improve the technical level in the development of marine environmental numerical forecasting systems (data assimilation), numerical modelling, boundary conditions and atmospheric forcings, and the comprehensive evaluation of oceanic analyses and forecasts. This comes as the third MoU signed between the two organisations since 2014.
The signing of the MoU was the occasion for both parties to present the evolutions in their respective forecasting systems and activities. MOi showcased some upcoming improvements including enhanced analysis and forecasts skills, the representation of mesoscale activities, equatorial dynamics and interaction with biochemistry.
As part of the partnership both organisations will dispatch experts to carry out cooperative research, and welcome visiting experts in both France and China. The two organisations will deliver results acquired during common research studies, exchange methods, best-practices, and numerical forecasting products.
Key priorities of cooperation include: the intercomparison between Mercator Ocean’s GLO12 global forecasting system and NMEFC’s global forecasting system MaCOM; a study on data assimilation system; enhancement of regional models; artificial intelligence techniques; and the planning of a joint workshop as done in years past.
United Nations OceanPrediction Decade Collaborative Centre
In late June 2022, IOC-UNESCO announced the launch of the OceanPrediction DCC (OceanPrediction DCC) and selected MOi to coordinate and host it. As a part of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, the two main pillars of the OceanPrediction DCC are international community-building and technical development. The OceanPredict DCC will create a coordinated global ocean prediction community and secondly will build a global technical structure focused on co-design, leveraging innovations of the digital twinning concept. MOi is currently engaged in the development of the EU Digital Twin of the Ocean, notably in infrastructure, IT, and modelling systems. On an international level, MOi stimulates partnerships, co-creates a system to implement community standards, and innovates ocean prediction activities to eventually merge with the digital twin of the ocean.
Enrique Alvarez, Technical Coordinator of the OceanPrediction DCC at MOi, introduced the concept and invited NMEFC to join the OceanPrediction DCC community by, for example, contributing experts to the dedicated regional team. The NMEFC team enthusiastically accepted citing their commitment to international and multi-lateral cooperation to increase over capacity in the field of operational oceanography. They agreed to take an active role in the regional team and will participate in the upcoming official kick-off OceanPrediction DCC virtual event on January 11&12, 2023.
NMEFC is the Chinese national operational institution for ocean forecasting and disaster warning affiliated with the Ministry of Natural Resources and funded by the Chinese government. It has nearly 300 staff members and also develops regional ocean forecasting systems in the South China Sea, the East China seas, and in the Arctic, as well as has seasonal forecasting and weather forecasting activities. They provide added value services to their users in the field of maritime transport, coastal management, fisheries, etc.
NMEFC and Mercator Ocean have been holding an annual workshops since 2014 hosted both in France and China. Four NMEFC scientists have visited Toulouse for short stays, during which a series of studies on the improvement of the data assimilation system of NMEFC in the South China Sea were initiated (SCOFS) and on the intercomparison of surface currents, mesoscale and front structures in the South China Sea (Ren S., et al,).
 Ren, S., Zhu, X., Drevillon, M., Wang, H., Zhang, Y., Zu, Z., & Li, A. (2021). Detection of SST Fronts from a High-Resolution Model and Its Preliminary Results in the South China Sea, Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 38(2), 387-403. https://doi.org/10.1175/JTECH-D-20-0118.1