Maritime Forum

Maritime Forum Themes


Seventh meeting of Marine Observation and Data Expert Group

Event date:
25/11/2009 - 18:00
Table of Contents

    This was the seventh meeting of the Marine Observation and Data Expert Group. Twelve members of the Group were present - Jean-François Bourillet, Peter Burkill, Hans Dahlin (chairman), Yann-Hervé De Roeck, Lars Hansen, Neil Holdsworth, François Le Corre, Ilaria Nardello, Lesley Rickards, Dick Schaap, Henry Vallius and Christopher Zimmerman. Seven others Colpan Beken, Frederique Blanc, Antonio Bode, Robert Gatliff, Remi Laane, Ralph Rayner, and Anastasios Tselepidis had apologized for their unavoidable absence. Michael Diepenbroek (presenting PANGAEA), Trine Christiansen (EEA), Eddy Hartog (MARE), iain Shepherd (MARE), Mikko Strahledorff (ENTR), Knut Sunnanå (presenting Norwegian monitoring), Agnes Robin (RTD) and Pascal Le Grand (RTD) also attended.


    MODEG had been presented with summaries of the preparatory actions the day before. The different thematic groups are already in contact with each other and the projects are on track to deliver portals mid-way through next year. A number of issues were raised – some of which are relevant to the projects themselves and some to the more long-term development of EMODNET.

    Regional Maps

    There are errors in the EEZ maps on VLIZ's web-site. These political boundaries are not necessary inputs for the ur-EMODnet projects but VLIZ should be notified. This can be through messages passed to the MODEG secretariat or through comments on the maritime internet forum.


    It was agreed that the hydrography group should more properly be called the bathymetry group since hydrography is a wider subject that also covers other physical variables of interest to shipping – tide, currents and waves etc.

    The resolution of the digital terrain model is not really fine enough to provide input for detailed physical modelling. Eurogoos had reckoned that 200 metres was the maximum grid length that could be acceptable. Nevertheless this exercise is helping build up trust between data owners and data providers that can be exploited in the future.

    Users will not only be able to visualise the map layers. They will be able to download them in files. The consortium will define a number of useful file formats for downloading. One of these might be NetCDF (CF), because it is well used in the oceanographic community.


    The partnership have worked together on other projects and are well suited to the job. Using the same standards as One Geology Europe allows seamless transition at the coastal zone.


    No ur-EMODNET group is dealing with physical data because the Commission wished to avoid any overlap with GMES. However GMES does not cover waves or tides so this is being reconsidered. A future EMODNET action might target the physical data that are not covered by GMES.


    Some crucial decisions have already been made – for instance the choice of chemicals to be monitored. The group had invited MODEG to check the progress reports and to send questions immediately should there be any concern.

    Quality assurance was considered to be of utmost importance. not only laboratory techniques but also sampling strategies. ICES are reviewing the QUASIMEME method.

    It is clearly necessary for users to have access to measurements as well. Map layers showing interpolated values should be considered with caution. MODEG asked for a presentation of the DIVA software that produces these interpolated values in the next meeting.


    The biological lot is proving challenging. On one hand we want to use records stretching as far back in time as possible. On the other, these records often lack important metadata. The descriptions in EUROBIS may need adjusting to be INSPIRE compliant.

    The biological species and species groups to be included in the final portal have not yet been decided. MODEG felt that it would be useful to show chlorophyll measurements as a proxy for phytoplankton. A comparison could then be made with space-based measurements from GMES.

    Marine Landscapes

    As discussed on the previous day, there was concern about the title of this exercise. "Habitat" might be misleading. The landscapes which are based on basic physical parameters such as sediment type will remain unchanged even if the habitat itself alters due to human impacts such as aggressive bottom trawling. The Commission will ask the partnership if "marine landscape" or another name might be more appropriate.

    Again, GMES should be explored for physical parameters such as salinity or light penetration.


    Knut Sunnanå presented the Norwegian plans for monitoring the Barents and Norwegian Sea. The aim is to ensure that all institutions hare in an agreed monitoring plan. A set of indicators for environmental health had been defined for each sea-basin and a 5-point scale for impact varying from insignificant to catastrophic developed. However determining where we are on the scale is hampered by lack of knowledge of the bottom habitat and ecological interactions between species and components of the ecosystem.

    Part of the objective is to identify specially sensitive areas where activity could be limited although all the areas selected for petroleum exploration so far have not taken into account environmental impact.


    Michael Diepenbroek presented the PANGAEA information system for earth system science data which is hosted by AWI and MARUM and funded to the tune of €1 million annually. In some ways the philosophy is different to the one adopted by EMODNET. Rather than leaving data with the institutions that collected them and ensuring that metadata standards are standardised, it collects all data for safe-keeping in one place and there is no agreed standard for metadata. It is more focused on research projects than regular monitoring programmes and allows readers of research papers in learned journals the opportunity of checking the data underlying the paper through cross-referencing a DOI (digital object identifier). Agreements have been made or are being discussed with Elsevier, Nature, Springer and Thompson Reuters.

    The two approaches – EMODNET and PANGAEA – are complementary. The challenge is to develop clearer ideas as to where the boundaries are between the two and to see how both fit within the future marine knowledge infrastructure.


    Mikko Strahledorff presented the World Meteorological Organisation Information System WIS. The WMO has two advantages when compared to oceanography. First each country has one meteorological agency so it is easier to know who to talk to when setting up a network. And secondly the commercial value of weather forecasts is more immediately obvious than for oceanographic data. The main challenges are to cope with the petabytes of data coming from satellites, to migrate from the old proprietary communication channels towards the internet and to allow seamless browsing and downloading of data from national resources. Significant effort is ongoing to merge the data repositories of the UK Met Office, Meteo France and Deutscher Wetterdienst. The European Medium Range Weather Forecatsing Centre, ECMWF, and EUMETSAT are also linked to the system

    Unlike EMODnet, access to the system is restricted to national meteorological services.


    The revised impact assessment of marine knowledge has been examined by the Commission's Impact Assessment Board and will be further modified before its adoption along with the Communication on marine knowledge in early 2010.

    The Communication will not only cover EMODNET but outline how the Commission intends to improve marine knowledge in the broad sense. GMES and the Data Collection framework will also be discussed. It will set a broad vision for 2020 but concrete actions will be limited to the 2011-2013 period. It will not include a financing element but a separate proposal for maritime policy might include provision for EMODNET.

    MODEG felt that any EU support should include new observations as well as the assembling of existing data. The Commission said that the EU already supports the collection of fisheries data and data from satellites. There is a good case to be made for extending this and some limited support may be provided but there is as yet no clear vision as to where the priorities lie. Once the ur-EMODNET projects start to produce results, gaps should become more evident. Another impact assessment in 2012 or 2013 will re-examine the case.


    Remind MODEG members to comment on progress reports from preparatory action on chemistry MARE
    Provide document on economic damage of harmful algal blooms European Environment Agency
    Follow developments with Royal Caribbean Lines and ferryboxes MARE
    Presentation of Guardians of the Sea at future meeting MARE
    Request presentation of DIVA software at next meetingh MARE



    The next meetings will be

    23 and 24 February 2010 in Brussels

    25 and 26 May 2010 in Copenhagen (the first day dedicated to a review of ur-EMODNET preparatory actions)