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    The launch of Sri Lanka Ocean Forecast website immensely useful to plan livelihood activities of people – Prime Minister

    June 22, 2024

    Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena launched the Sri Lanka Ocean Forecast website at a special function held at the Temple Trees in Colombo tuesday(June 18).

    The University of Western Australia provided this ocean forecast website through a grant allocated by the Australian government.

    The Prime Minister said that just as the weather forecast describing future atmospheric conditions such as air temperature, humidity, precipitation, wind etc., ocean forecast is also extremely important to an Island-nation like Sri Lanka. "As we heavily rely on the Indian Ocean for our economic activities, it is of paramount importance to obtain accurate forecast on ocean conditions in terms of wave motion, ocean current, temperature and salinity stratification," he said.

    He thanked Australian High Commissioner Paul Stephens, Prof Charitha Hettiarachchi of University of Western Australia and local agencies involved in this project including NARA, Ocean University, Disaster Management Center, Meteorology Department, Marine Environmental Protection Authority and Coast Conservation Department.

    High Commissioner Paul Stephens said that this project was initiated by the Prime Minister in 2022, when he was the Minister of Foreign Affairs. After the X-Press Pearl vessel disaster, Sri Lanka wanted an ocean forecast system and Australia is glad to be a partner in this project, which is a significant achievement.

    Prof Charitha Hettiarachchi of University of Western Australia briefed the audience on the use of the 3-language website stressing that forecast would be helpful to people to plan their activities.

    Former Deputy Minister Gitanjana Gunawardena, Secretary to the Prime Minister, Anura Dissanayake, NARA Chairman, Dr Nimal Kumarasinghe, Dr Asha de Vos of Oceanswell and senior officials of NARA, Ocean University, Disaster Management Center, Meteorology Department, Marine Environmental Protection Authority and Coast Conservation Department were present on this occasion.

    Following is the full text of the Prime Minister's speech;

    Launching of Sri Lanka Ocean Forecast Website is of utmost importance as on an everyday basis, many people rely heavily on the weather forecast to plan their life.

    Just like the weather forecast describing future atmospheric conditions such as air temperature, humidity, precipitation, wind etc., ocean forecast is extremely important to an Island-nation like Sri Lanka. Indian Ocean is crucial for our economic activities and it is of paramount importance to obtain accurate forecast on ocean conditions in terms of wave motion, ocean current, temperature and salinity stratification.

    A wide spectrum of ocean users can make use of ocean forecast information to prepare for, or further develop application tools and services to support their maritime activities, including navigation, search and rescue operations, coastal planning and management, ecosystem conservation, as well as disaster risk reduction and mitigation.

    It is not easy for a developing country to make huge investments on ocean forecast as it involves a complex process from ocean observations, data collection and assimilation, model development and validation, supercomputing and analysis. In these circumstances, we are indeed grateful to the University of Western Australia for providing us with ocean forecast website through a grant allocated by the Australian government and the High Commission.

    I am all the more happy that I was involved in this from the beginning as the initiative was taken when I as the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

    I am glad to note that plans have been made to progress towards a more comprehensive Ocean Forecast System that could provide up to five days forecast of winds, currents, waves and storm surges under NARA with the technical assistance of University of Western Australia under the Australian Government aid.

    Another interesting factor is that the forecasting system and the web interface will include subsystems for prediction of oil and chemical spill through integration of other models. In the recent past we faced a serious maritime disaster involving the X-Press Pearl vessel. That disaster brought home the imperative of a dependable ocean forecast system and I am glad we are moving towards that with the launching of the Sri Lanka Ocean Forecast Website.

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