< Ocean Science Centre Mindelo Takes Shape
22.05.2017 10:04 Age: 5 yrs
By: C. Zenk

Ocean Science Centre Mindelo before Completion

Preparations for scientific operation at the research platform in Cabo Verde about to start

After two and a half years of construction, the building of the new international research station in the city of Mindelo, Cabo Verde, has been completed. Now, preparations for the scientific operation of the Ocean Science Center can begin. The project is a bilateral initiative of the cooperation partners GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel and INDP, the Cape Verdean National Institute for Fisheries Development.

The Cape Verdean islands off the western tip of Africa have in recent years turned into an important location for international marine research. On and off the islands, German institutions operate observatories for ocean and atmosphere research. In addition, numerous scientific expeditions have started and ended in the port of Mindelo. The tropical Atlantic plays a key role for marine biodiversity and the global climate.

Five years ago, the GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel, together with the National Cape Verdean Fisheries Development Institute INDP (Instituto Nacional de Desenvolvimento Pescas), took up the planning of a  
permanent research basis in Mindelo as a starting point and workplace for Cape Verdean and international working groups.

After two and a half years of construction, the building of the Ocean Science Center Mindelo (OSCM) has now been completed, and the building authorities have succsssfully approved the provisional building inspection. "We are now preparing for the scientific operation," says Cordula Zenk, cooperation coordinator with Cape Verde at GEOMAR.

The new building has a gross floor space of more than 1700 square meters. A central component is a drive-through hall in which large marine scientific equipment such as deep sea robots and autonomous underwater vehicles can be moved and maintained. An electronics and a mechanics workshops connect to the hall. In addition, the OSCM provides users with several laboratories, storage rooms for equipment and samples, offices and conference rooms.

"The investment volume amounts to around 2.9 million euros, of which GEOMAR has taken over 2.6 million," says Silke Simon, head of technical services and purchase department at the Kiel Research Center. The remaining 300,000 euros were financed by the Republic of Cape Verde. They also made available the premises for the building.

The new center in Mindelo will significantly contribute to an improvement of the logistics for research groups working in the tropical Atlantic. "After an expedition we used to transport equipment for maintenance to Kiel or other home institutions. A few months later, we then shipped them back to Cape Verde for the following research campaign. Soon we will be able to carry out maintenance in Mindelo. This will save us a lot of transport costs, "explains Prof. Dr. Arne K├Ârtzinger, chemical oceanographer at GEOMAR." We will be in a much better situation to carry out research cruises and react more flexibly to short-term events in the tropical Atlantic ".

At the same time, the OSCM is intended to serve as a germ cell of intensified cooperation with researchers from Cape Verde and other African countries. "The training of young academics from the region is a key component of our cooperation with INDP. The OSCM will be an important platform for academic education, "says Cordula Zenk.

After the construction work of the OSCM has been completed, the interior rooms still need to be finished before the OSCM can start operating, planned for the second half of the year. The official opening is scheduled for November and will be embedded in an international conference.