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Ocean observations and marine data in support of the EU Green Deal: a day at EMD 2022

9 June 2022

What’s the value of a coordinated, sustained, and fit-for-purpose ocean observing and information system? How can ocean observations, data and marine knowledge serve policy, industry, and the wider society? A joint hybrid workshop at the European Maritime Day 2022 organised by the EuroSea and Blue-Cloud flagship research projects and EC marine data service EMODnet, showcased success stories and use cases from the European (and Atlantic) marine data landscape, and charted the way forward for closer collaboration on efforts related to ocean observation and marine data in the context of the EU Green Deal.

June 2022

The long-awaited European Maritime Day 2022 took place on 19-20 May in Ravenna, Italy, as a hybrid event welcoming 850 physical and 600 remote participants from all over Europe. The event provided the perfect stage for going back to meeting and collaborating in person, and this is exactly what EuroSea, Blue-Cloud and EMODnet have done with a joint workshop on 19 May , “Ocean observations, marine data and services for the European Green Deal”.

Setting the scene

The workshop saw more than 80 people (in the room or on Zoom) join a rich lineup of speakers, who showcased successful examples of cross-project collaboration and discuss the way forward. EuroSea was represented by Dina Eparkhina (EuroGOOS), who presented the priorities and recommendations released in a joint policy brief with Blue-Cloud and other EU projects NAUTILOS, EuroFleets+, iAtlantic, ODYSSEA, and AtlantECO, facilitated by the EC-funded Horizon Results Booster and also contributing to the wider collaboration of the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance.

Blue-Cloud Project Coordinator Sara Pittonet Gaiarin (Trust-IT) introduced its innovative open access environment giving access to computing & analytics resources, to a set of domain-specific Virtual Labs, and to the Data Discovery & Access Service, enabling researchers to use datasets from a federation of leading EU marine data providers, including EMODnet.

Kate Larkin , Deputy Head of the EMODnet Secretariat, took the audience through the latest achievements of this long-term EU marine data service, which is a gateway to integrated, harmonised in situ marine environmental and human activities data spanning hundreds of parameters, working in close collaboration with other key marine data initiatives such as Copernicus Marine Service. Alessandra Giorgetti, Coordinator of EMODnet Chemistry presented use cases including how EMODnet Chemistry is the central hub for Member States to access trusted data on marine litter, thanks to a centralised marine litter database, produced in collaboration with the EC Joint Research Centre (JRC).  They ended the presentation noting the ongoing centralisation of EMODnet services that will be completed by the end of 2022, further simplifying the user experience with a central data discovery and access, single map viewer for visualisation and central download for all data and data products

Charting the way forward

A panel followed, moderated by Dick Schaap (MARIS & Blue-Cloud Technical Coordinator). After a short introduction, panelists gave their perspectives. Laurence Crosnier (Mercator Ocean International) explained that there are already more than 40.000 users on the Copernicus Marine Service which specialises in satellite-derived data and modelling, prediction and forecasting, and that in the upcoming years the portfolio will be increased in terms of biology, coastal data and the Arctic. 

“The research community needs even more sustained availability of observation data and further integration between observations and models, in order to turn the concept of a Digital Twin of the Ocean with what-if scenarios into an operational reality.” Nadia Pinardi, University of Bologna & EuroSea

The private industry perspective was brought in by Marco Filippone (FUGRO) , who mentioned successful examples of public-private collaborations by FUGRO such as the collection of 2 million m2 of bathymetry data which were donated to Seabed 2030. He also noted that FUGRO is already in dialogue with EMODnet, a cooperation that will be strengthened in the coming months in terms of data sharing, use and best practice exchange. The expanding world of fisheries and aquaculture was represented by Anton Ellenbroek (FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture & Blue-Cloud), while Joana Beja (VLIZ & EMODnet Biology) concluded the panel stressing the fact that specific domains still need to be able to collect and use more data from certain regions, such as the Mediterranean.

“FAO is increasingly using environmental data to study the interactions in ecosystems and for coastal communities, as well as producing innovative training platforms for UN SDGs like in the case of Blue-Cloud.” Anton Ellenbroek, FAO

Schaap wrapped up a productive and highly interactive panel session underlining that when it comes to marine data and derived data products, the marine community already has a high capability, assets and ongoing initiatives across the marine knowledge value chain. It is key that the foundation of ocean observation and data collection is further strengthened and sustained as this underpins the data pipeline, providing high quality relevant data to marine data infrastructures and services that add value through data harmonisation, standardisation, integration, offering Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR) data to use as marine information and knowledge for the EU Green Deal and wider use. This also implies needs for sustained operation and further innovation of every layer in the marine knowledge pyramid all the way to the top.

Watch the recording

  • About Blue-Cloud - Blue-Cloud is the flagship initiative of the H2020 Future of the seas and oceans  programme of the European Commission. Blue-Cloud is federating leading European horizontal e-infrastructures (e.g. EUDAT & D4Science, Copernicus DIAS, WeKeo), with long-term marine data management infrastructures to create a trusted virtual space - the Blue-Cloud Technical Framework - where scientists can access the ocean data, tools, services and research outputs they need to perform research in a more efficient way. In this way Blue-Cloud goes one step higher by seeking to combine output from all these facilities and make them available for multi-disciplinary web-based science. - 
  • About EuroSea - EuroSea works to improve the European ocean observing and forecasting system in a global context. Why is this necessary? Well, oceans are an essential part of the Earth’s system. However, we still have fundamental gaps in our ocean observing and forecasting capabilities. These gaps limit our capacity to sustainably manage our activities and sustain ocean resources. Ocean observing is big science and simply can’t be implemented by individual nations. We urgently need to ensure high-level integration for coordinated ocean observing that can be sustained in the long term. That’s why EuroSea works towards two goals. First, to deliver ocean observations and forecasts to advance scientific knowledge about ocean climate, marine ecosystems and their vulnerability to human impacts. Second, to demonstrate how the ocean is an essential part of an economically viable and healthy society not only today but also in the decades to come. EuroSea is a European Union Innovation Action bringing together 55 public and private organisations around Europe delivering ocean observing services and collecting data. - 
  • About EMODnet - The European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) is a long-term marine data initiative funded by the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund which provides a focal point for in situ (collected in water) data from seven broad thematic areas spanning the marine environment and human activities at sea. EMODnet, together with the Copernicus Marine Service of the Copernicus space programme, provides the core infrastructure for the European Marine Data Space, as a key contribution to the global ocean data ecosystem. The European Marine Observation and Data network (EMODnet) connects a network of over 150 organisations supported by the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy who work together to observe the sea, process the data according to international standards and make that information freely available as interoperable data layers and data products via a number of key data and web services. EMODnet is a user-driven service and is continuously evolving to meet user needs. By the end of 2022 EMODnet will complete a full centralisation of its data access, discovery and visualisation. -