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    The overall objective of biological oceanography is to study the temporal and spatial distributions of populations of marine organisms and their interaction with each other and with their environment. The work is predominantly ecological, productivity at different tropic levels is studied in order to provide basic information required to understand the marine living resources.
    Bongo Net
    In broad perspective of objectives the emphasis is being given to Fisheries Biology, Marine Ecology and Aquaculture. For direct underwater observation and study of organisms NIO has modern equipments.

    The main research areas are;

    1. Spatial and temporal changes in the distribution and breeding patterns of marine organisms in the coastal and deep waters of Pakistan.
    2. Primary productivity in the coastal waters.
    3. Food web and Mangrove ecosystem studies in the nearshore coastal environment.
    4. Ecological problems created due to industrial and recreational activities.
    5. Rearing techniques for the production of indigenous and priced species of shrimp and fishes for development of aquaculture.
    6. Inventory and evaluation of living resources.

    The activities of the Physical Oceanography cover:

    i) The study of physical processes in the Ocean through observation programmes ...

    ii) Development of numerical models and softwares for prediction and projection of measurements system response.
    Physical oceanography staff members in NIO are involved in experimental, theoretical, laboratory and numerical investigations of oceanic motions which occur over a wide range of scales.

    CTD and Multi-rossett
    Physical oceanographers collecting samples near Antarctic Continent.

    The major fields of research to understand the physical processes of deltaic, coastal and offshore waters of the northern Arabian Sea region are :

  • Sea level changes and coastal water dynamics.
  • Distribution and structure of oceanic fronts in the shelf seas.
  • Analysis of oceanic and tidal currents
  • Tidal predictions for ports along Pakistan Coast.
  • Spatial and temporal variations in coastal processes.
  • Numerical modelling.

    The central theme of chemical oceanography is to describe and evalute the ocean as a chemical system. Emphasis is placed on understanding the stability of the marine environment with respect to changes that might be brought about by natural phenomena or by human activities. The application of recent advances in analytical instrumentation and techniques to the problems of marine environment has led to a rapid progress on a number of fronts which NIO is gradually adopting. The chemical researches in NIO have mainly addressed: Chemistry of Indus estuarine environment and its effect on the growth of fauna and flora in the area; Estimation of pollutants from land based activities and their hazard potential for marine environment. Distribution of nutrients and dissolved gases in the sea.

    Chemical Section
    Chemical & Environmental Laboratory.

    The research interests include pollution monitoring, environmental impact assessment and environmental sensitivity, classification of the coastal zone with respect to the existing levels of common pollutants in the area. The pollution monitoring is oriented to generate necessary data for the formulation of pollutant discharge standards and for adoption of pollution control measures.


    The research activities of this Section aims at producing geological maps of the ocean floor and the sub-floor at different scales by using different surveying and sampling techniques. These maps show the lithology, stratigraphy and structures of the seafloor and the subseafloor in our EEZ and provide the data base for evaluating non-living resources potential. Our marine geologists also study near-shore and shallower regions such as inner continental shelf and coast where ocean and atmosphere dynamically interact to produce complex and rapidly changing morphology. Such studies are essential for coastal zone development and management.

    The Indus delta has been chosen for geological and geophysical mapping on priority basis. In this region the greatest potential exist for living as well as non-living resources. The interaction of sediments from the Indus with the chemical and physical conditions over geological times affecting the ecology of the Indus Delta is the dominant factor for the prospects in the area.

    With the acceptance of plate tectonics as driving force behind ocean ridge and basin formation marine scientists are endeavouring to understand, resolve, and map the evolution of ridge basin complex of the northern Arabian Sea, determine the marine hydrocarbon and minerals potential and study recent coastal tectonic activity and offshore earthquake events for evaluating earthquake and Tsunami hazards in the coastal region.

    The main research interests in this field :

    1. Geological processes and Geomorphology of the coastal areas.
    2. Sedimentation and Sedimentary processes in Indus Delta and Makran Margin.
    3. Geo-hazards and coastal environment.
    4. Exploration of placer minerals and other non-living resources.
    5. Identification and evaluation of potential areas for hydrocarbon resources in EEZ.
    6. Study of sub-bottom strata for the laying submarine cables, pipelines and building coastal and offshore engineering structures.
    7. Paleoceanography and reconstruction of climatic history from marine sediments.

    Pakistan coast is influenced by intensive SW Monsoon waves and currents including erosion and siltation. The deposition of silt by river Indus also interacts with the shore processes. The inundation of the coast therefore, requires a systematic hydraulic and hydro-dynamic investigation all along the coast. Data on waves, tides, currents and littoral transport are collected for application in coastal protection, planning of ports etc.

    Numerical models of harbours, bays, estuaries for investigating the effects of tidal heights and currents are also prepared. Occupance and path of cyclones and effect of storm surges on the coast are studied for evaluating shore erosion, through Numerical Models.

    Monsoon Waves

    There is a need for a systematic hydrodynamic and hydraulic investigation all along the coast, which has considerable impact on design study of various marine structures, establishment of coastal industry, intake water system for nuclear plants, and heavy industry and draining into the sea, etc. The coastal morphological conditions, beach profiles, coastal long-shore and transport are directly related to beach stabilization; scaling of dredged harbors and sand accumulation in the vicinity of jetties or other coastal and off-shore structures; development of numerical models to determine suitable solutions for siltation, erosion and protection problems. Deep Sea fishing and Deep Sea mining require special techniques e.g. for off shore structures, pipe-lines, submarine cables etc, to operate the specialized gear. The data required for such operations is also specific and differs from other types of general observations. The Environmental studies depend upon close examinations of the various parameters.

    A base has already been started in the NIO with a modest system. It is proving of immense utility in various aspects of the work. The enhanced computer capability will enable the research in NIO to cover such fields as Satellite Imagery interpretation and remote sensing. Remote sensing and latest improvements in the technique have enabled the hydrographic conditions (i.e. sea water temperature, salinity etc. distribution and movement) to be observed over large area through satellite signals.


    The National Oceanographic Data Committee (NODC) of the pakistan acts as a national repository for all types of oceanographic data pertaining to the territorial waters and EEZ of Pakistan. The NODC has basic computer facilities for storing and retiving information.
    NODC-Pakistan is a part of National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Pakistan. Ocean and marine data and information are very important for research, but also for monitoring, predicting and managing the marine environment, assessing fish stocks and biodiversity, offshore engineering, controling any hazard or disaster, and tourist industry.

    NIO has established a National Oceanographic Data Centre (NODC) for effective data management for researchers, administrators, planners and coastal area developers. NODC is not only managing data collected by NIO scientists during various sea trips/cruises but also receives data from World Data Centre (WDC) as well as International Oceanographic Data Centres around the world. The wide variety of data includes physical oceanographic parameters of waves, tides, current data and temperature-salinity profiles, chemical oceanographic data comprising of distribution of nutrients and chlorophyll, geological and geophysical data about sediment distribution, coastal erosion/accretion, data about subsurface geology and potential for non-living resources. All these data sets contribute towards the economic development of the country through diversified users.

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