The Southern African Data Centre for Oceanography (SADCO

The Southern African Data Centre for Oceanography (SADCO): Regional Facility for
Storing and Sharing Marine Environmental Data
Dr Marten L Grundlingh, Manager of SADCO, CSIR, South Africa
The presentation addresses the need for storing and sharing data in the southern African
marine environment. SADCO, the Southern African Data Centre for Oceanography, has
been archiving oceanographic data within the target area 10º N – 70º S and 30º W – 70º E
since the late 1960s. Present data holdings comprise some 200 000 hydrographic profiles of
temperature, salinity, nutrients, etc, collected from research and other vessels.
A database with approximately 45 million sea surface and weather observations is also
maintained and updated at monthly intervals. Time series of current meters, coastal weather
stations, and other continuously recording instruments are also stored. The databases,
containing data dating back to the 1850s, are fully web enabled, and include an inventory of
all surveys (whether SADCO has the data or not). The database management system is
Oracle running on UNIX servers, of which backups are made on a daily basis. Development
plans for the near future include expansion of its holdings of chemical data (e.g. heavy metal
occurrence in the sediment, organic tissue, and the water column) collected in the coastal
areas around South Africa.
The data centre is also preparing to host the Sub-Saharan OBIS node (AfrOBIS), and will
therefore be diversifying into the ocean biogeographic domain. OBIS (Ocean Biogeographic
Information System) is part of GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility) and will become
a global platform for the dissemination of marine biodiversity information. As part of the
process of establishing AfrOBIS, contact will be made with possible data providers in the
region. The data centre is comparatively small (relative to international data centres), and to
optimise efficiency has adopted a suitable model for shared funding and shared human
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