The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO was established in 1960 to coordinate ocean research, observations and services. Today the IOC is perhaps most known for its role in tsunami warning and sea level related hazards, but the IOC also covers many other issues including ocean data exchange, development of standards and systems, climate research and capacity development. The IOC has worked closely with the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) of ICSU from the start. The International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE) in the 1960s was the first large joint experiment of its kind providing improved scientific understanding of the Indian Ocean and related capacity development. 50 years later, the IIOE-2 to be officially launched in December 2015 will be directed towards a series of scientific and societally relevant goals including improvement of the Indian Ocean component of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS). Due to limited resources, it is not possible for IOC Officers or the Secretariat to be heavily involved in specifics of all regional and marginal seas of the world ocean. Yet we recognize that the increasing pressure on the coastal zone from human activities and the possibilities for utilizing coastal ocean resources are high priorities for IOC Member States. The IOC therefore aims to stimulate regional cooperation, sharing of scientific expertise and data, and the development of standards, tools and best practices to underpin sustainable regional and coastal marine management including marine spatial planning. In a region hosting a large fraction of the worlds seawater desalination plants, environmental aspects of associated brine release are in focus, in particular since this occurs in a shallow marginal sea of high background salinity due to natural evaporation. While these features may be unique to the region and seem to be driven mainly by local forcing, external drivers from larger scale ocean and climate variability should also be considered. Study of similarities and differences to other marginal seas including inverse estuaries may be useful for scientific understanding of the dynamics and resilience of the regional oceanographic system.


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  • Received: 07 December 2015
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