MarCoSouth Marine Earth Observation (EO) training course feedback

A GMES & Africa and Copernicus Marine Earth Observation Training Course, aimed at supporting marine and coastal applications, took place between the 28th of September and the 16th of October 2020. The course was organised by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) of South Africa, with support from EUMETSAT, for the Marine and Coastal Operations for Southern Africa (MarCoSouth). Due to the ongoing travel restrictions imposed due to COVID-19, this training event was provided as a fully online event. The event was open to applicants from all African countries, and fifteen participants from Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa were selected to attend. The training team consisted of Dr. Marie Smith (CSIR), Mr. Christo Whittle (CSIR), Dr. Hayley Evers-King (EUMETSAT) and Dr. Lisl Robertson Lain (UCT/CSIR).

The training was provided in two complementary formats. The course started with a two week self-taught phase where the participants were given access to the EUMETSAT training moodle page, a web-based platform containing overview articles, instruction videos, and supporting resources for the course. The first week of the self-taught phase also included a live introductory and orientations session, to familiarize the participants with the training team and the online platform. Participants were able to interact with all the course material in their own time, which included topics such as: the GMES&Africa project,  EUMETSAT’s role within Copernicus space segment, the role of the Copernicus services, the data streams available from Sentinel 3, the instruments on board Sentinel 3, the data products provided by EUMETSAT and their access systems, open source software and tools recommended ruing the workshop (SNAP and Python), in addition to several short video lectures developed by CSIR on various EO topics.

The second phase of the training consisted of a week of full-time online classroom sessions, which took place on the Zoom platform from the 12th to 16th of October 2020. The classroom content focused on various topics, including the underlying principles of marine remote sensing, understanding the Copernicus Marine landscape, accessing data from the Copernicus Marine Data Stream, choosing appropriate data products, and developing workflows using open source tools and software (SNAP, Python) with the help of examples. The classroom training sessions consisted of a combination of lecture presentations, group discussions, and practical application sessions. A large portion of the week was dedicated to participants proposing and working on a mini project that was directly aligned with their own research or work.

Although the fully online training model worked well under the circumstances, internet connectivity problems remained an issue for many African participants. Once travel restrictions are lifted, future training events will aim to include an in-person classroom phase where possible. Keep an eye on the GMES&Africa blog for information about upcoming training.

Some of the participants and trainers on zoom during the mini project presentations

More information:

The Council for Scientific and Industrial research –

The GMES and Africa Marine and Coastal Operations for Southern Africa (MarCoSouth), led by CSIR –


Dr. Marié Smith, Training lead for MarCoSouth, msmith2[at]

Mrs Riette Pretorius, Project Administrative lead for MarCoSouth, reaston[at]


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