Operational Oceanography in support of marine traffic

Dr Roger Proctor1, Ms Penny Haire1, Mr Henry Nichols1, Dr Clothilde Langlais2

1Tidetech, Hobart, Aus, 2CSIRO CEM, Hobart, Aus

Ninety per cent of world commerce is carried by 50,000 commercial vessels traversing the planet’s oceans and coastal seas. Increasingly these vessels are required to conform to navigational and environmental constraints, for example shipping lanes, piracy no-go regions and low emission zones. These constraints bring efficiency requirements to the fore – for example to conform to US and EU standards for air quality ocean-going ships carry two fuel types, a high grade fuel for use in low emission coastal zones and a lower grade fuel for ocean transits; minimising the use of high grade (and hence expensive) fuel becomes a priority. Passage transits can be made safer with advanced warnings of storm centres and wind/wave conditions; an example is the LNG carrier business which is affected by certain wave fields creating ‘sloshing’ in the LNG tanks. The industry is looking to science to provide reliable, accurate and appropriate information.


Providing efficient access to the necessary information to meet these requirements requires a complex computational infrastructure. Demands for forecasts of ocean currents, tides, waves and weather parameters up to 10-15 days in advance are now the standard requirements. Increasingly, as companies recognise the value of these data, the need is for hindcast data as well, so that historical voyages, for which they have data, can be used to calibrate future requirements.


This talk will give an overview of industry requirements, of the infrastructure built to acquire and deliver to their requirements, and examples of how different sector requirements are implemented.

Roger Proctor is a founding director of Tidetech, a company initially set up to provide ocean data to recreational sailing, with subsequent expansion to support elite sailing and commercial shipping. He has a PhD in coastal oceanography from the University of Liverpool, UK and spent 25 years as a research scientist at the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, Liverpool (now National Oceanography Centre) before moving to Australia in 2008 to join IMOS as the Director of the Australian Ocean Data Network. He retired from IMOS in December 2018.

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