Welcome to the ASCLME Project

Between 2008 and 2013, the nine countries of the western Indian Ocean region, including Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa and Tanzania, will work together through the UNDP supported GEF financed Agulhas and Somali Current Large Marine Ecosystems (ASCLME) Project.

A summary of oceanographic knowledge of the Agulhas and Somali Current LMEs

The oceanographic conditions in the Agulhas and Somali Current LMEs are distinct. In the southern part of the west Indian Ocean, the Agulhas Current system dominates. This current is one of the largest western boundary currents in the world and is fed from a range of complex sources. By contrast, the Somali Current in the northern part of the west Indian Ocean, is a shallow current that has the unusual characteristic of seasonally reversing direction. In addition, there are currents that carry water past the islands of the south west Indian Ocean and which form part of the typical wind-driven subtropical gyre.

Knowledge of the oceanography of these different systems, including their physical, chemical, biological and geological features, is highly variable. Parts of the Agulhas Current system have been comprehensively studied, but knowledge about other parts – the Mozambique Channel and the seas around Madagascar, for instance – is scant. And, while some features of the Somali Current have been relatively well observed in the past, no studies are taking place inshore because of security concerns in Somalia. In addition, few dedicated oceanographic studies have been undertaken in the vicinity of most of the islands of the south west Indian Ocean. The influence of all these currents on the circulation over the adjacent shelves, the local chemistry, biology and sediment movement has been inadequately investigated.

This summary of what is known about the oceanography of the west Indian Ocean is strongly skewed towards physical oceanography. Considerably less is known about the chemical oceanography, biological oceanography and marine geology of the region.