Sustainable Ocean Modelling Initiative: a South african approach

Sustainable Ocean Modelling Initiative: a South African Approach (SOMISANA) 

The vision of SOMISANA is for a sustained and transformed critical mass of internationally recognized South African numerical ocean modelling experts who provide accurate information about the changing state of the ocean for enhanced impact. The meaning of SOMISANA is ‘to work together’, underscoring the role that we hope SOMISANA will play in facilitating collaboration and cooperation between various institutes in generating information about the state of the ocean that supports coastal resilience.

The Case for Numerical Ocean Modelling

Numerical modelling plays a crucial role in understanding and predicting the complex dynamics of the ocean as it provides information, throughout the water column, that is both temporally and spatially coherent. It is a powerful tool in understanding variability in and linkages between various aspects of the marine environment, including currents, temperature, salinity, nutrient distribution and ecosystem interactions. These models help researchers and policymakers gain valuable insights into the functioning of the ocean, assess potential impacts of human activities, and develop effective management strategies.

SOMISANA recognizes the significance of numerical modelling in addressing marine challenges and aims to expand South Africa's modelling capabilities. By utilizing existing global models, such as those developed 
by Copernicus Marine Services (CMEMS) and others, SOMISANA can build upon established frameworks and adapt them to regional contexts. This approach allows South Africa to leverage international expertise, data, and infrastructure while tailoring the models to address specific local concerns and conditions.

Alignment with National Imperatives

With the ratification of Operations Phakisa in 2014, an initiative to fast-track the unlocking of the economic potential of South Africa’s oceans to support the National Development Plan, it is more crucial than ever that operational information of the present and future state of the ocean is available to stakeholders and policy-makers for good governance and sustainable management of our coastal ocean. To this end, SOMISANA contributes directly to the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment's, Ocean and Coastal Information Management  System (OCIMS) whose objective is to develop and deliver operational decision support tools for various coastal stakeholders.

Alignment with International Imperatives

2021-2030 is the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development with the vision of producing the science we need for the ocean we want. Several programs have been endorsed to help achieve the seven outcomes that describe the ‘ocean we want’: a clean ocean, a healthy and resilient ocean, a productive ocean, a predicted ocean, a safe ocean, an accessible ocean and an inspiring and engaging ocean. The objectives speak to not only the development of a sustainable oceans economy, but crucially to enhanced understanding of the changing state of the ocean for effective protection of its ecosystems. Societal impact underscores the mission of the Oceans Decade, with the generation of freely accessible information intended to contribute to society’s understanding of the value of the ocean and how to respond to its changing state, to mitigate against coastal hazards and to support a sustainable food supply. To contribute meaningfully to the UN Oceans Decade, it is crucial that South Africa develop a critical mass of expert numerical modellers who are able to develop methodological approaches that are appropriate to its socio-economic context.

Data Access

Thredds Server
Utilize our thredds server for  SOMISANAs extensive data library,  that provides our forecast outputs as  NetCDF files, both raw and processed.

Files Server
On our file server you have the ability to directly download raw files, providing flexibility to work with data in your preferred format. Additionally, you will find the model evaluation reports and readme’s there.
Thredds Server
File Server


A tracking functionality has been developed by coupling our  forecast models with the OpenDrift ( software. It has been set up to run as either an ‘oil spill’ application or a so-called ‘leeway’ application. The oil spill application takes many different oil types into account, their weathering characteristics and how they get mixed into the water column. The leeway application has a pre-defined list of 85 different objects, each with their own empirically determined drift characteristics. Should you require forecast information about drifting matter, feel free to contact our team on email: or


Venture into our operational forecast data through our user-friendly web visualization platform. This tool presents a comprehensive overview of our datasets, transforming raw information into comprehensible visual interpretations. Offering customizable views, the platform invites you to delve into the data, unearthing invaluable insights that can augment your understanding and empower more accurate projections. Click To Visualize


National Ocean Modelling team for NRF-SAEON and OCIMS 
image Dr Jennifer Veitch
Principal Numerical Ocean Modeler at SAEON Egagasini and founder of the SOMISANA Initiative. Responsible for bringing SAEON and OCIMS together on operational modelling. 
image Dr Giles Fearon Senior Operational Ocean Modeler at SAEON, responsible for expanding the modelling framework and for skills sharing and development . 
image Mr Nkululeko Memela Junior Operational Ocean Modeler at SAEON responsible for model testing, evaluation, reporting and maintains this website.


Highlights from the most recent SAEON news-letter articles on ocean modeling.
A significant highlight of the PredictOnTime workshop was the proposal to designate Algoa Bay as a pilot site for testing and implementing predictive capabilities in the Southern African context.
SAEON’s participation highlighted its collaborative work in marine information management and high-resolution ocean forecasting that forms a fundamental part of Sustainable Ocean Modelling Initiative.
Giles Fearon and Jenny Veitch were the only African representatives to present at this year’s meeting of the Coastal Ocean and Shelf-Seas Task Team of CoastPredict, shedding light on SAEON’s operational ocean modelling developments.

This is where to find us

Cape Town: Egagasini NRF-SAEON Office
Foretrust Building, Martin Hammerschlag Way, Foreshore, Cape Town, 8001
087 1832 054