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Maritime Forum

EMODnet Secretariat progress update – Q4 2017

This update is largely based on the quarterly reports of the different EMODnet groups (Thematic lots, Sea- basin Checkpoints, Data Ingestion) and supplemented with updates from the Secretariat. This is the fourth Secretariat progress since the start...

EMODnet progress overview


The first EMODnet Open Sea Lab hackathon took place on 15-17th November in Antwerp’s StartUp village with participants with different backgrounds and skill sets from 15 countries. The objective was to explore the potential of marine open data and more in particular, data from EMODnet portals. EMODnet thematic groups sent coaches to provide support to the participants and many of them received useful feedback throughout which will help to improve the EMODnet services.

Also in this last quarter of 2017, thematic groups have participated in the pilot of a new monitoring system and have started to report using a new list of progress and performance indicators. This process has been led by Trust-IT but has relied on the collaboration and input of the thematic groups to refine the new testing protocols.

The Secretariat revisited the EMODnet Graphics and Visual Identity and produced guidelines for the portals wich already resulted in major revamps of the portals by HRSM/Bathymetry as well as Chemistry, Biology and Physics. These changes comprise a simpler structure, changes in the fonts, visuals and logos and a more harmonised use of terms.

Specific progress and achievements of thematic groups

  • This period has seen an acceleration in the gathering and preparation of data sets for HRSM/Bathymetry following their Annual Progress Meeting in October 2017. As a consequence, there has been a very significant increase in the number of bathymetric records (from 14927 to 26875) CDIs and DTM entries (from 77 to 115) in the Sextant Products Catalogue, including the very remarkable new 18 DTMs from Sentinel satellite data for coastal and near shore data. In addition to that, the portal has been revamped following the latest EMODnet visual guidelines presented in the last EMODnet Steering Committee.

  • EMODnet Geology has contacted the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) and now EMODnet Geology obtains seismic data from the EMSC database. All data products are registered in a relational database (PostgreSQL) for better supporting users on their preferred database environment. Also, from now on the Geology portal logs the activities of users visiting the central database (PIWIK, now MATOMO) which is hosted by EMODnet Central Portal.

  • EMODnet Seabed Habitats has been busy developing collaborative relationships within its own consortium and with other EMODnet lots and regional commissions, as well as making progress in reaching out non-EU projects and organisations. In addition, contact has been initiated with over 40 potential third-party data providers in at least 10 countries to explore what data exists and what can be shared with the project. To prepare the update of the EMODnet Seabed Habitats flagship data product, the EUSeaMap, Ifremer has worked with regional leaders to produce a list of boundaries to review and reanalyse. For the habitat modelling work package all partners have contributed to the production of a list of almost 200 seabed habitat modelling studies in Europe.

  • EMODnet Physics has become an official member of the European Technical Group on Underwater Noise (DG ENV - TG NOISE), this will facilitate EMODnet Physics to be connected and make available more underwater noise data and products. During this period the portal and interoperability services have gone through major updates. Now users have available a new product that allows them to interact and plot data from the Temperature and Salinity climatologies as developed by the SeaDataNet consortium. Also, the joint EMODnet Physics and Data Ingestion Real Time data management interface (V.1.0) is now available (

  • In addition to revamping the portal following the new EMODnet Visual Guidelines and making progress in harvesting, aggregating and validation of different data sets, EMODnet Chemistry reports on important contacts established with OSPAR (for beach litter data), EEA (signature of a MoU) and ICES (trawl surveys data). Also relevant is the organization of the first online workshop of the Board of MSFD experts focused on Descriptor 5 (eutrophication).

  • EMODnet Biology reports on the award of nine grants for associated data partners organisations, so that they can participate in the general project meetings and contribute data using the same standards and data format. EMODnet Biology participated and co-organised the EMODnet Open Sea Lab Hackathon that took place on 15-17 November 2017 in Antwerp. The data management team has created a metadata record for all the datasets can they now be discovered through the EMODnet Biology Data Catalogue ( A new page including statistics about the number and type of records has been embedded into the EMODnet Biology website:

  • EMODnet Human Activities has published updates on five datasets including aquaculture, boreholes, active licenses, offshore installations and other forms of area management as well as prepared a new dataset on pipelines. Three new blog entries were published. After several meetings and attempts to obtain AIS data via EMSA and Members States to create Vessel Density maps, AIS data for 2017 were purchased from a commercial provider.

  • The Promotion efforts of the EMODnet Ingestion partners resulted in an increase of the number of published data submissions via the portal from 10 to 55 submissions. More than 35 additional submissions are now being processed. An EMODnet Ingestion animation movie ‘Wake up your data’ encouraging governments, industry, NGOs and scientists to contribute data was released on YouTube ( and already attracted a lot of attention.

EMODnet Sea-basin Checkpoints progress

EMODnet Sea-basin Checkpoints for the Arctic, Atlantic Baltic and Black Sea are well into the last year of their 36-month project duration, taking stock of the activities carried out for each of the challenges and getting ready for the final reporting. Each Checkpoints will also deliver a report with recommendations on how the Checkpoints should or could operate after the end of contract, taking into account ongoing EU efforts in terms of monitoring data and the future development of a European Ocean Observing System (EOOS).

  • The Arctic Checkpoint further populated the portal with latest outputs of the challenges (mostly maps and tables). Most of teams working on specific challenges provided the necessary input for the portal and attention has therefore shifted towards optimisation of viewing of layers and of record details.

  • The Atlantic Checkpoint has uploaded its targeted products into Sextant catalogue and is moving towards final reporting. The consortium met in Galway on 5-7 December 2017 to review progress and agree a work plan to ensure that the second adequacy report will be ready in time.

  • Baltic Checkpoint teams are already providing input for the second Data Adequacy Report, with 9 out of 11 challenges accomplished and reported. The reports allow for the identification of gaps both at the level of data availability (data inexistent) but also in terms of its accessibility (existing, but not accessible in public databases). The project has already submitted their report on “Baltic Sea Checkpoint operated after contract”, analysing its possible relationship with EOOS and making suggestions for new areas for the challenges.

  • The Black Sea Checkpoint released several a newly completed products via its repository, so that they can be eventually visualized on the WebGIS portal (yet to be implemented). Metadata for the Data Products Specification, the achieved (or targeted data products) and the Upstream Data have been uploaded to Sextant. Web pages were also updated with a synthesis of objectives, methodology and a list of targeted data products. Up to 10 WebEx and Skype meetings were held in this quarter to ensure the good progress of the activities.

EMODnet data portals usage

Thematic portals regularly report their user statistics as part of the EMODnet monitoring system based on progress indicators. For the time being, thematic data portals continue reporting progress using the existing performance indicators while the process of testing the new monitoring system with new indicators is ongoing

  • The number of downloads from the EMODnet HRSM/Bathymetry portal reached 10776 in this period, a 25% more than in the previous period. Once again the WCS, which allows the user to draw and download their own area of interest was very popular (over half of the downloads are performed with this service). Similarly, the number of visitors has shown a dramatic increase, from around 4000/month in the summer period, to more than 13000 in this last quarter. Regarding web services, 25000 visitors used the WMF, WFS and WMTS services to view and download the maps, once again mostly from United States and Spain.

  • The number of data layers made available through EMODnet Geology remains constant, and the most popular is the seabed substrate dataset (four layers totalling 106.499 features), accounting for 27 downloads of 3.740 MB in this quarter. New tools have been implemented to identify the main pages utilised and the preferred user navigation routes. The results show that users on average click four times on the portal before leaving again: whether they find the relevant content within four clicks will be assessed via interviews with known users. The number of visits are still much less than the other thematic portals (around 400 visits per month). EMODnet Geology also tracks the purpose of the downloads. Nevertheless, the use of more than 40% of the downloads have been reported as unknown. Finally, the portal has extended capabilities with WFS access. These services are yet not publicly available to the broader public but were used for participants of the Open Sea Lab hackathon with success.

  • The EMODnet Seabed Habitats has made a range of new data products available for viewing and downloading through its portal. In particular, kinetic energy at the seabed due to current in the Black Sea, in the Mediterranean Sea and in the Adriatic Sea, as well as a number of external data products from the 2003 Habitats Directive obtained directly from the EEA. The thematic portal usage has increased: EUNIS maps from survey have been downloaded 61 times, 13 more than in the previous period, and the sum of views of the home page, view data, download data, build custom map and search metadata have increased from 1200 to 1500 views for a period of 3 months. The organisations reported to have downloaded data products are mostly universities and some research institutes. Data has been used in most cases for educational purposes or for personal use (34% and 45% respectively).

  • EMODnet Physics is tracking the IP addresses of visitors to record where the data requests come from. To resolve the IP vs. the country the EMODnet Physics is using the GEOLite2DB from MixMind. In this period, Germany and Belgium were the countries that used the static portal pages the most. Most of the downloads took place via web services rather than by manual download. Web services were accessed more than 240000 times in this quarter, with Germany and Morocco representing more than 90% of the uses, mostly through WSSOAP and WS respectively. Despite having increased enormously, these high numbers may be not entirely reliable. If we do not take into account these two countries, web accesses are similar to the ones in the previous reporting period. The landing page was visited more than 4000 thousand times and the map viewer more than 5000 during the last three months.

  • There has been a remarkable increase on the number of datasets made available by EMODnet Chemistry portal (935270 vs. 865281 in the last quarter) with important contributions from the Finnish Meteorological Institute. Approximately three quarters out of those datasets are of unrestricted access. In the last quarter, the portal doubled the number of downloads (39 from 18 different users), and this adds to the downloads performed through the SeaDataNet portal (98, the same number than in the previous quarter). The EMODnet Chemistry portal receives about 500 visits months, comparable to EMODnet Geology and Seabed Habitats, and one magnitude less than the others.

  • The number of datasets accessible through EMODnet Biology increased from 796 to 810 and the number of downloads has tripled in this period reaching 263. In this quarter, the EMODnet Biology portal is the most popular thematic portal again, and the number of unique visitors continues to increase: more than 14000 per month. Users must indicate the purpose of their downloads on a form, and they indicate mostly research-related (non-commercial) purposes.

  • EMODnet Human Activities reported a total of 520 downloads, 140 more than in the previous one. Once again “Wind Farms” was the most downloaded layer (93). Various organisations have made initial requests for WFS links and these numbers also include those requests. In this period, Research and Education were the most mentioned sectors when specifying the use of the data, whereas in previous periods energy was the most important one. With respect to the number of unique page views, there has been a significant increase with respect to the previous period (5300 vs. 3800 in three months), which seems logical (more activity after summer months). It is interesting to note that many of the visitors come from the private sector.

  • The Data Ingestion Service had a peak of 9300 unique visitors in November 2017, and a monthly average of 8700 over the Oct 2017-Dec 2017 period. This reflects that the Data Ingestion Service has increased progressively its visibility since its kick-off through promotion of the service on other portals. In this regard, by the end of 2017 the data ingestion service had received 93 submissions, of which already 55 have been published in the Summary service. There is existent information on the submissions by status, country, assigned data centre, submitter and data type.

  • EMODnet Sea-basin Checkpoints provide information about their projects and give access to the outputs from the challenges in their portals. It is possible to compare the number of visits and there are considerable differences. The Atlantic Checkpoint portal is still the most visited one, with more than 900 sessions (800 in the period July-August-September 2017), followed by the Baltic (286) and the Black Sea (290 sessions, 100 more than in the previous period). In contrast, the number of new visits to the Arctic portal is extremely low (4).

  • Finally, the average number of unique visitors to the Central Portal has seen an increase in the month of November 2017 (17000, whereas it dropped in December to 15400 probably due to the vacation period). The increase in November 2017 may be linked to the dissemination activities linked to the Open Sea Lab hackathon, but also to the new services (EMODnet catalogue and map viewer). Overall, it is the (again) the most visited portal among the entire EMODnet family.

Challenges to be addressed

  • Activating HRSM/Bathymetry partner to take action for data gathering, metadata and pre-processing was not an easy task, but great progress has been achieved in the last couple of months, with the exception of three remaining countries (Croatia, Slovenia and Denmark).

  • EMODnet Geology reports several technical challenges. For example, the working programme of geological events and probabilities has encountered problems when adapting aerial landslides models to submarine landslides models. Solutions are being investigated to address this.

  • EMODnet Seabed Habitats made reference to problems related to finding the best way to engage with the Regional Sea Conventions (RSCs). In developing the templates and guidance for publishing habitat point data EMODnet Seabed Habitats portal found that most habitat classification systems were not represented online as standard controlled vocabularies.

  • EMODnet Physics has referred that they still have to work on the connection and integration of PANGAEA.

  • EMODnet Biology reports some lack of responsiveness of some project partners that are not reporting on the status of their tasks or not collaborating at all. That can bring about delays in the processing of some priority datasets as well as in the submission of some deliverables.

  • EMODnet Chemistry reiterates difficulties related to the evaluation of the fitness for use of their data products for MSFD purposes, and more in particular Descriptor 5 (Eutrophication). Also, the set-up of PIWIC (now MATOMO) software to monitor the performance of their portal proved challenging.

User feedback

  • The helpdesk service is operational now in all thematic portals and they all receive a comparable number of enquiries (between 10-20) with the exception of Human Activities (just one question received in this reporting period). A total of 11 requests/comments were received and addressed generally in just one day in the case of HRSM/Bathymetry ranging from technical issues to suggestions of new datasets to be incorporated. EMODnet Physics received 17 enquiries mostly about getting access to data but also providing corrections to the metadata. All enquiries were addressed and generally solved in just one day. EMODnet Biology indicated receiving feedback from relevant organisations such as CEFAS, EEA, OSPAR and HELCOM on different issues, including requests to participate in different meetings. In its turn EMODnet Geology receives 4 support questions per month that are dealt with in 1-2 days.

Recent meetings and events

  • EMODnet Biology organized a workshop on Essential Data Product in London on 10 October 2017, with representatives from industry, the four Regional Sea Conventions, conservation organisations and transatlantic partners who met to steer the development of key biological products. Importantly, the regional sea conventions do not wish that EMODnet develops specific data products as they prefer having full (political) control on the process. They are interested in getting access to underlying data layers instead. EMODnet Seabed Habitats as well as DG MARE participated in the workshop.

  • EMODnet HRSM/Bathymetry was presented in several important meetings during this quarterly period, including a SeaDataCloud Plenary Meeting, GEBCO guiding committee, a demonstration at IHO, an IODE/ODIP Workshop and the AGU Fall meeting. The Atlantic Checkpoint was also present at the AGU Fall meeting while EMODnet Physics presented their activities in a total of 11 events, including the EuroGOOS conference in Bergen from 2-5 October, together with MedSea Checkpoint.

  • As mentioned in the Highlights, EMODnet community was heavily involved in the Open Sea Lab, taking place in Antwerp on 15-17 November, the first Hackathon using EMODnet resources and showing the potential of open data to develop innovative solutions for blue growth.

Upcoming EMODnet meetings and events

  • The EOOS Forum 2018 will gather the main ocean observing funders, implementers, and users in Europe to examine the extent to which the current observing systems are sustainable today, and which opportunities and threats lie ahead. The event will take place in Brussels on the 8th March 2018 and it will be a first step to prepare for the big EOOS Conference, organized on November 21-23 2018, also in Brussels.

  • The 47th edition Oceanology International will take place in London from 13-14 March 2018 at the London Excel. Oceanology International is one of the most important forums of its kind, bringing thousands of global suppliers and users of maritime goods and services to do business in one location. EMODnet Secretariat will participate with a booth and will take the opportunity to showcase how EMODnet can support maritime enterprises.

More detailed information can be found on the EMODnet thematic and sea-basin checkpoint portals, also accessible through the EMODnet Central Portal.

Thematic portals

Sea-basin checkpoint portals

Data Ingestion Service