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Maritime Forum

Are the marine data collected in the Black Sea fit for purpose?

A consortium of researchers are conducting a series of stress tests to try to answer this question


Public bodies in the EU together spend over €1 billion a year collecting data on the marine environment. Most of these are collected for a specific purpose – bathymetry for safe navigation, contaminants for safe bathing – but we are now moving towards a ‘collect for many purposes’ paradigm. The question is whether the right data are being collected.

The data adequacy reports aim to answer this question. The first data adequacy report for the Black Sea reports that a significant proportion of the input data sets as “restricted” or “not well documented”. There are a significant number of ‘red’ scores in Challenges 2 (MPA) and 4 (Climate), while for Challenge 10 (Bathymetry) almost all the data sets are restricted.

The outstanding specific characteristic category that are not adequately covered by input data set availability adequacy indicators are:

  • concentration of suspended particulate material in the water column
  • snow and ice mass, thickness and extent
  • pressure (measured variable)
  • air temperature and density
  • atmospheric humidity
  • phytoplankton generic biomass in water bodies
  • zooplankton wet weight biomass

There are also other characteristics with issues in terms of data adequacy in view of the investigated challenges:

  • wind strength and direction
  • bathymetry and elevation
  • salinity in the water column
  • spectral wave data parameters
  • wave height and period statistics

In addition, whenever the characteristic category is monitored by "observations" instead of "model" outputs, the availability indicators for the data sets are less adequate, highlighting the lack of adequate availability of the observational data sets with respect to the model ones.

An interesting result of this analysis is that input data sets regarding atmospheric characteristics are not adequate to meet the needs of the Challenges, which is probably due to the lack of an open data policy at the level of meteorological organizations.

literature survey first data adequacy report