Sri Lanka Visiting Professorship | POGO

Sri Lanka Visiting Professorship


Dr. Charitha  Pattiaratchi conducted an intensive training program on ‘Coastal physical oceanography of Indian Ocean waters’ in Colombo, Sri Lanka for 31 students from Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Pakistan and Tanzania. Part I of the training consisted of a series of formal lectures which included an introduction to physical oceanography with an emphasis on continental shelf processes and the Indian Ocean region.  Students also received hands-on training in the use of MATLAB in the analysis of physical oceanographic data sets.  A graphical user interface (GUI) was developed as part of the present project to analyse sea level data.  Data sets from the Indian Ocean region were used to examine storm surges, tidal characteristics and tidal harmonic analysis.  At the conclusion of the training all students were given a package containing two CD’s which included all the data, programs (MATLAB routines) and models used by all students during the training.  This ensured that all students had equal access to programs and data for the future. 


A series of small group projects were also developed in conjunction with the students, taking their interests into account and the availability of data sets.  The students worked as a group in an integrated project based on various aspects of physical oceanography of the region.  These included the analysis of remotely-sensed data (altimeter, ocean colour and SST), ARGO buoy data from the northern Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and around Sri Lanka, and meteorological data. 


These group projects were continued during Part II of the training which also included  field training at a residential field camp in Weligama, located ~150 km to the south of Colombo.  Here, students were exposed to the collection and analysis of data from four different environments: an estuary; the beach; coastal areas; and the continental shelf.  During one of the offshore cross-shelf transects in Weligama Bay, the CTD recorder belonging to NARA got entangled and was unfortunately lost.  Seeing that there were still funds remaining in the budget at the end of the training period, Prof. Pattiaratchi requested that funds these funds be used to replace NARA’s CTD.  It should be noted that in NARA’s original proposal, they had not requested any funding for the purchase of instruments through the NF-POGO Visiting Professorship programme.  Their request was subsequently approved, and a replacement Seabird SBE 19-plus profiling CTD recorder was purchased for NARA.


The feedback from the students at the end of the training period was very positive.  The students were exposed a range of skills and experiences from physical oceanography, to fisheries and coastal conservation, which will help with their own research in the future. Furthermore, there is an on-going collaboration between Prof. Pattiaratchi and the students from the training course.  He has already provided training to one of the students to study the exploration and transport of heavy mineral sands at the University of Western Australia (funded through a World Bank project) and has acted as an external supervisor to the student from Mauritius for the completion of his Ph.D thesis in physical oceanographic processes in the south-western Indian Ocean.  Prof. Pattiratchi has also provided additional training on tsunami inundation modelling to five students who participated in the NF-POGO training program.

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