XXI General Assembly of IAPSO (International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Ocean), Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, 5-12 August 1995

Afranio Rubens de Mesquita, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil

The XXI General Assembly of IAPSO (International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Ocean) scheduled for the city of Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, in the period 5-12 August 1995, was opened, in an inaugural section, by the Governor of the State of Hawaii, Mr Ben Cayetano. Present at the inaugural section were also Mr Bob Fishman, Managing Director of the City and County of Honolulu, Admiral Peter Long, from the U.S. Navy, Dr Carol Eastman, Executive Vice Chancellor of the University of Hawaii, Dr Barry Raleigh, Dean of the University of Hawaii and Dr Robin Muench, President of IAPSO. The Keynote speaker of the section was the Hawaiian Nainoa Thompson who described his experiences of repeating, in exactly the same conditions, the Polynesian marine voyages, that populated the Islands of the Ocean Pacific and the west coast of South America in the past.

The IAPSO Assembly of Hawaii was very much a success. Although several prestigious names did not attend it, the enthusiasm of very talented young people coming from Japan, China and the ex-Soviet Union, most of them from Russia, kept the level of science of the Association at its normal standard. It was a real international gathering, that appeared to be a third world reunion at some times, but a first world one if the quality of their work presented during the oral and the posters sections was considered. People like Longuet-Higgins, David Cartwright, Henry Charnock and John Woods were also there although not all of them gave talks. I attended mostly the sessions within the section PS-02 (Decadal and Interdecadal Variability of the Oceans) wherein I made a poster presentation on a contribution by Prof Morettin (Institute of Mathematics and Statistics - University of Sao Paulo) on sea level series from San Francisco (USA), the rainfall of Fortaleza (142 years series, Brasil) and sunspot series with similar length and covering the same epochs. There is strong statistical evidence that these series may be causally related via the same forcing of ENSO. Their spectra show similar spectral behaviour. At the end of PS-02 its convenor Dr Yamagati summarised the meeting by reviewing the world wide phenomenon of ENSO and by indicating the decadal and interdecadal scales for the interdisciplinary research in Oceanography of next years.

I attended also a section on the Dynamics of the Open Ocean from New Satellites (TOPEX/POSEIDON) and also the workshops: WS-2 (Fossil Turbulence ; Microstructure and Hydropalaeontology) and WS-1 (Present and Future Oceanographic Research in Developing Countries). I did not stay long in these workshops. In the first, there was a talk by John Woods on his work of the sixties on turbulence and on what he considers to be the fossil turbulence. The participants seemed finally to agree on a definition of what could be meant by fossil turbulence in terms of vorticities, divergences and convergences, where the statistical geometric properties of the flow seem to be in a ferocious fight with the mass of the fluid. From all that, I think I could add only the Woods submarine photos of the oceanic fossil turbulence, which appeared to be in remnant forms of the dye, which gently fade way, following the rules of the struggle between geometry and mass. In the second workshop, there was the overall feeling from the talk of its convenor, Dr Subba Rao, that oceanographic research in developing countries praises more the values of the knowledge, rather than the reality of the actions of producing it and that, as prosperity increases along their way, they will understand and follow the same routes, into which followed the most successful societies in dealing with nature in general and with science of oceanography in particular.

The oral presentations that I attended tended to be sometimes very formal and also quite dull when the presenter detailed aspects of the theory or of the model or of particular circumstances of the data usage’. The coupled ocean atmosphere models seem to be the most well fit to reproduce the ENSO scales and there were several presentations from different continents that supported that inference for the Pacific Ocean.

The poster sections were more informal and allowed questionings between the presenter and the audience with mutual benefit. In a poster section presented by a Canadian there was strongly questioned the validity of model results. By taking well accepted models and historical data he obtained completely contradictory results for currents and attributed these results to Neptune the God who was driving the oceans and might have affected the results in angry criticism of the modellers! In another poster section an Anglo/Saxon American gave a presentation on a piece of theory on the Intermediate Current of the Pacific Ocean showing its sectional enlargement in the equatorial belt. I made the point of its existence also in the Atlantic and promised to send him our contribution, the paper that we have made from GATE measurements on board the Noc Almt Saldanha in 1974.

I also presented in the section PS-04 (Coastal ocean: Interaction with the Open Ocean) the paper by Dr Harari on the modelling of the Sao Luiz (Brazil) estuarine coastal area. He used the Heaps model for tides and currents for the area surrounding that important port of the Brazilian coast, for the first time, and obtained reliable results. The results interested an Australian who wished to know more about the prospects of amplifying the area of work outside Australia of his company of software development and marine modelling for engineering purposes. I have sent to him the addresses of the offices of Petrobras to where he may send his proposals. In another poster presentation a Japanese showed the results of his work on Polyneas of the Antarctic with measurements and a theory supporting the heat balance that give rise to these water pools. Another poster section by a Chinese dealt with the general circulation of the Pacific as in many others where computer modelling was the basic tool to test hypotheses of oceanic physical processes. The confidence in models to test the physics of time and space scales of the ENSO made possible the inference that they are the signature of a self sustained internal process of the coupled Ocean/Atmosphere systems. These ways of thought were exposed by several people who came to talk in front of my poster presentation with me. There was an Estonian, a German lady who sustained long discussions on these aspects, opposing the views expressed in the poster. A British person also expressed his uncertainty on the reliability of the results as well as on the suggestions that were raised to explain them. To that I argued that statistical results are surely unable to tell the exact reality of the physical processes involved and that they only could point better where to dig further and that is the whole quest of the causality analyses presented. It does not point in the direction modellers would like in the present case but raises points that can be viable alternatives for the science being presently built. I enjoyed very much these kinds of talks as they repeated similar discussions from the past which one hopes will certainly continue.

The general paradise scenario of Honolulu and Waikiki engendered by the Hilton Hawaiian Village made yet more enjoyable the debates that went on during the XXI IAPSO General Assembly. Going on to IAPSO business: the General XXI Assembly of IAPSO business meeting was open by its president Dr Muench, who greeted those present at this Assembly, held in a temporary split from the IUGG in Boulder. In a short pronouncement he pointed out the success of the decision to split from IUGG the present IAPSO Assembly, as judged by the number of abstracts presented (about 800 to 1200). I participated in it as the Brazilian delegate to IAPSO. Next, the President made an announcement on the prestigious members of IAPSO who passed way in the past four years. Jim Crease from Britain made a memorable talk on the life and the science of John Swallow following his death that occurred last December, 1994.

Then the President asked the Assembly for a change of IAPSO's statutes, in part concerning the mandate of the President, which for reasons of management of the Association had to be changed from its present 4 years mandate to 5 years. In this way Dr Muench's fifth year mandate will be together with the first year's mandate of the next President of IAPSO, and so on. The Assembly unanimously approved this modification. Next the President submitted for approval the indications made by a Nominating Committee for President of IAPSO, for the Secretary and the Executive Committee.

The newly elected President of IAPSO is Dr V Shannon from South Africa. His e-mail is: Vshannon@sfri.sfri.ac.za. His mandate is now 5 years. His first year mandate will be shared with Dr Muench and his 5th year will be shared with the next President of IAPSO to be elected in 1999 on the occasion of the next IAPSO Assembly. The new IAPSO Secretary is Fred E Camfield from the USA. His e-mail is: camfield@coafs1.wes.army.mil.

I was informed by Dr Stevenson that all business of the IAPSO Commission for Mean Sea Level and Tides had been already treated in the last six months and that there would be no reason to have a meeting during the Assembly. The announced new President of the Commission for the Mean Sea Level and Tides is Christian Le Provost who succeeds David Pugh. The final report of David Pugh on the activities of the Commission was distributed among the participants (only few copies) but I have not got one. At the end of IAPSO's business meeting Dr Stevenson recalled that previous IAPSO meetings were very circumspect and grave and that had been changed in the XXI IAPSO Assembly as in all sections, oral or poster, he saw people really involved and enjoying the discussions of the different themes in an open and informal manner. People around him, which included the new President and the new Secretary of IAPSO, agreed.