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Maritime Forum

EMODnet Secretariat progress update - January 2015

This update provides an overview of EMODnet progress covering the months November-December 2014 supplemented with updates from the Secretariat.

This update is largely based on the bi-monthly reports of the thematic lots covering the months November-December 2014 supplemented with updates from the Secretariat.

Current progress highlights:

Thematic portals progress:

  • At the end of 2014, the total number of CDI (Common Data Index) entries for bathymetric datasets in European waters available from EMODnet Bathymetry reached 8194 entries (increase of 334 entries since end of August) with 367 being unrestricted, while all others require negotiation with the data holders. The overall compilation and integration of the new EMODnet Digital Terrain Model (DTM) is progressing slowly (see section on challenges) but steadily (formal launch expected by end January 2015). To provide more options for users, EMODnet bathymetry is implementing Open Source tools: the DTM database has been successfully migrated from Oracle to PostgreSQL 9.3 RDBMS and for GIS the Bathymetry portal will make use of the latest version of GeoServer in combination with OpenLayers for developing the user interface. The Bathymetry Viewing and Downloading service has been extended with several new layers, such as a seamless land-sea integration of Open Street Map WMS and inclusion of land topography WMS with comparable resolution as the new DTM (1/8 * 1/8 arc minutes) to improve user experience when viewing the new DTM.

  • EMODnet Geology launched a completely revamped website available at with a more coherent presentation of information/data/products and a stronger EMODnet identity. A new Working Group was set up on Geomorphology and Landforms to agree on the definition of features that will be used to construct the preliminary ‘Quaternary’ maps for the project. These definitions will also be of value to work on ‘Geological Events and Probabilities’. The project has released guidelines for collecting information on location and types of geological events and probabilities to obtain first inputs from partners by March 2015. Finally, we congratulate the EMODnet-Geology Project Co-ordinator with his appointment as the Chair of the Working Group on Atlantic Seabed Mapping with European-US-Canadian participation.

  • EMODnet Seabed Habitats finalised the Black Sea habitat list describing 14 habitats and their environmental characteristics ranging from upper infralittoral to the deep anoxic mud. This will allow implementation of modelling if sufficient input data is available. Data collection has progressed notably in Turkey (seagrass data), Norway (collation of existing ground-truth data - presence/absence of kelp), the Black Sea (Cystoseira barbata, Infralittoral muddy sand with Upogebia pusilla or infralittoral sand with Chamelea gallina) and the Atlantic (Marine recorder and French sample data). These datasets will feed into the work one calculation of threshold values for each boundary between the broad EUNIS habitat categories. In December 2015 an exercise revealed that two types of statistical analysis (the ROC or Receiver Operating Characteristic curve and a method based on a GAM or Generalised Additive Model analysis) can be used reliably to establish threshold values.

  • EMODnet Chemistry saw the total number of CDIs for chemistry data sets relevant for European waters increase from 600122 to 629343. Of these 528384 are unrestricted (unrestricted and SeaDataNet license), while others (100959) require (possible) negotiation due to restrictions. EMODnet Chemistry implemented the first prototype for Cloud hosting with Cineca (Consortium made up of 69 Italian universities, and 3 Institutions, including OGS and CNR). A growing number of products are generated by EMODnet Chemistry and released: (i) interpolated maps computed using DIVA software (when the coverage of observation data distribution is large enough for such geostatistical analyses); and (ii) sets of time series and plots of these time series. New products are made available for visualisation and downloading on the OceanBrowser viewing and Sextant Discovery services (

  • During November and December 2014, EMODnet Biology added 7 new datasets with more than 40000 new records to the pool of data available through its portal. The thematic portal also developed a prototype of the World Register of Introduced Species (WRIMS) to be formally launched by end of January and published a semantic Wiki to manage the vocabularies on functional trait names and definitions ( An open call for data rescue grants launched by EMODnet Biology received lots of interest and is now closed. Successful proposals will kick-off shortly. EMODnet Biology itself was invited by ICES to further develop tangible EMODnet Biology data products as Operational Oceanographic Data Products (OOPS) ranking among the top three proposals received following an open call for proposals by ICES.

  • EMODnet Physics fully integrated historical data datasets (validated under the SeaDataNet network of NODCs) for 794 platforms (11450 datasets) which are made available via the CDIs discovery and request system. The consortium also developed a new type of data product for platforms measuring wind data (Wind Data Product) providing users with a set of plots showing among others average, maximum and minimum strengths over time for a given period. In order to improve the interoperability services and make them more OCG compliant the EMODnet Physics WMS/WFS services were successfully migrated from MapServer to GeoServer.

  • EMODnet Human Activities obtained important updates of wind farms, aggregates and dredging data. The collection of data on fish catches (from the 1950s to present day) is now complete for all EU waters and data will soon be available online, broken down by FAO fishing area. EMODnet Human Activities also released a new version of its website with a number of high priority updates to improve user experience and switched to a new webserver on 27 November 2014. The site now utilizes the latest version of MapServer to aid the serving of Web Feature Services (WFS). WFS v1.1.0 have been created and made available for all hosted datasets with the exception of ports.

EMODnet sea-basin checkpoints progress:

  • North sea-basin checkpoint made significant progress with the assessment of data adequacy for several of its ‘challenges’ which involves three main steps: data gathering, data quality assessment and data analysis. The data gathering and much of the quality assessment for the ‘windfarm siting’ challenge has been completed while the usefulness of the data is still being analysed. Data gathering and quality assessment for the challenges on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and Climate and Coastal Protection has nearly been completed; results will be reported in a Data Quality Report shortly. The North sea-basin checkpoint website will soon be released, including a front-end to a data quality assessment/signposting database, which will allow the user to filter the quality assessments made for the project’s challenges. A prototype was presented at the EMODNET Steering Committee meeting on 9-10 December 2014. The static part of the website is being developed via the EMODNET content management system.

  • Mediterranean sea-basin checkpoint organised its first annual meeting (Bologna, 5-7 November 2014) to discuss progress and agree on a work plan for the coming year. A second six-monthly report was issued to the Commission on 22 December 2014, together with the second EMODnet MedSea Newsletter. The methodology and template was refined as basis for collection of metadata input for the MedSea Checkpoint Discovery and Search service. This Checkpoint Service will consist of a portal for searching through input datasets for particular Checkpoint ‘challenges’ and (in the future) will compute the Checkpoint indicators for the Data Adequacy Report (DAR). A new release of the web portal with new style and new information will be launched in February 2015.

EMODnet data portal usage

Since January 2014, thematic portals regularly report their user statistics as part of the EMODnet progress indicators which allows to track interest and areas for improvement. Similar to previous months, the most visited portals in November-December 2014 were the EMODnet Central Portal, EMODnet Bathymetry and EMODnet Biology.

  • The EMODnet Central Portal attracted an average of 1500 unique visitors (about 3000 visits) per month in November-December 2014 which is comparable to previous months. Most visits were from Italy and users mostly downloaded the EMODnet leaflet and brochure.

  • More than 1000 persons each month visited the main EMODnet Bathymetry website while more than 1500 used the bathymetry viewing service. The Digital Terrain Models (DTMs) have been downloaded 4414 times making it the most popular EMODnet data product to date. Exactly 11 users have requested and downloaded 155 bathymetry survey datasets in period November-December 2014.

  • As in previous months, EMODnet Biology also attracted a steady 1000+ unique visitors to its website in November and December. Users downloaded data about 118 times with uses ranging from verification/testing of the data and downloading service to research. Various pages of the EMODnet Seabed Habitats website received more than 700 unique visitors in the same period.

  • Data products have been downloaded 281 times from the EMODnet Seabed Habitats portal in the period 09/11/2014 to 06/01/2015 by people from 45 different organisations and institutes. Main purpose for downloading data products was research (38%), followed by education (29%), personal use (15%), governmental use (11%) and commercial use (7%).

  • EMODnet Chemistry is lagging behind with about 10 visitors per month for the website, 100 per month for the chemistry products ocean browser and about 100-150 for CDI data discovery and access service. About 100 chemistry datasets were downloaded by four distinct users while 56 data products (time series and maps) were downloaded in period November-December 2014.

  • EMODnet Physics portal attracted more visitors than ever before in November (590) and December (669) of 2014. During these two months, close to 20000 physics data downloads were requested (partly manual partly through machine to machine communication), most of them from Italy.

  • Finally, while still relatively new, the EMODNET Human Activities portal attracted more than 100 unique visitors every month and several users (mainly for research purposes) have been downloading data already available on the portal.

Key challenges to be addressed

While significant progress has been made during the last two months of 2014, important challenges remain.

  • EMODnet Bathymetry has made steady progress with the overall compilation and integration of the new EMODnet Digital Terrain Model (DTM), but the release has been delayed due to extra time required for the processing and addressing discrepancies resulting from merging data from different surveys and GEBCO (launch of planned for end January 2015). The validation and handling of the large volume of data points for the new EMODnet DTM is a serious challenge. Together with a large area expansion for including all European seas, the total volume has increased more than 4-fold to data points (28.799 rows x 37.922 columns) which requires a lot of human and computer time for validating the DTM cells and rendering the different GIS layers. Another challenge is the merging of data from different origins, such as from surveys and GEBCO, where no surveys are available. Differences in water depths have more impact due to the higher resolution. In particular individual soundings from single beams in deeper water appear as needles of a few pixels, while in the earlier resolution these effects would have been filtered by averaging. This implicates that a post-processing is needed before the new DTMs can be made available for downloading.

  • The delay of the new Bathymetry DTM also has repercussions on other portals. EMODnet Seabed Habitats for example is confronted with the lack of Bathymetry data, which is particularly acute in the Black Sea where there is nothing yet available with a better resolution than that of GEBCO (1 km). Lack of suitable input is a typical problem in seabed habitat mapping. For useful modelling, models need a minimum of coverage which requires that the input data sets have enough coverage themselves.

  • Finally, for certain datasets and certain areas, EMODnet Human Activities is struggling to obtain the actual datasets of interest. Reasons vary from lack of clarity about who actually owns the data, lack of appropriate formats (e.g. not geo-references) and lengthy approval procedures at the providers’ end (e.g. for sensitive fishing and shipping data).

Recent meetings and events:

  • The 3nd EMODnet Steering Committee Meeting took place on 9-10 December 2014 (Brussels, Borschette). The meeting addressed among others the central portal development, EMODnet progress indicators, Secretariat user-survey recommendations and first year deliverables of all lots (see meeting report here:

Upcoming EMODnet meetings and events:

  • As a core partner involved in several EMODnet activities, Ifremer is organising an EMODnet Information Day in Brest on 27/01/2015 to understand lessons of work done so far and to look at how the different programmes can work together to create a better understanding of the seas (

  • A 2nd EMODnet-MSFD Coordination Meeting will take place on 27/02/2015 (Brussels) to consider and discuss the progress and EMODnet product development with relevance for MSFD and marine environmental monitoring and reporting. Main focus will be on evaluation of the EMODnet Chemistry data products (

  • EMODnet Secretariat will submit a proposal for an event and booth at European Maritime Day 2015 (28-29 May 2015, Piraeus, Greece) – more information

  • The 4th EMODnet Steering Committee Meeting will take place on 1-2 July 2015 at the Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Ispra (Italy). This (closed) meeting will address among others the central portal query tool, MSFD interactions and prepare for the upcoming EMODnet Jamboree. An opens session for JRC staff and interested stakeholders will provide a demonstration of the portals.

  • From 20-23 October 2014, EMODnet is organising a major event (EMODnet Jamboree) for partners from different thematic groups to meet each other, discover new insights and work together on common problems ( The Jamboree will start with a public day with stakeholders and invited guests on 20/10/2014.

More information:

More detailed information and the bi-monthly progress reports of each thematic lot can be found attached to this post and on the EMODnet thematic portals: