Maritime Forum

EMODnet Phase II - Second Annual Progress Report

Published on: Wed, 23/12/2015 - 15:02
Table of Contents
    The European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet), funded by the Financial regulation for the Integrated Maritime Policy, has reached the end of second year of development Phase II (2013-2016). There is now a central portal providing access to data portals covering bathymetry, geology, physics, chemistry, biology, habitats and human activities in European seas. Thematic data portals, a coastal mapping project and a complete set of six sea)basin checkpoints are coordinating their activities through a Steering Committee supported by the EMODnet Secretariat. This post provides a summary of progress made in the second year of EMODnet Phase II.

    Progress summary

    1. General highlights and achievements

    • September 2014: Secretariat releases first full-fledged EMODnet Brochure - available online at http://www.emodnet.eu/brochure   
    • October 2014: EMODnet EurOCEAN2014 pre-event “Connecting people with data” (6 October 2014, Rome) brings together EMODnet coordinators and interested stakeholders. Following the event, the Rome Declaration "Delivering impact, global leadership and sustainable blue growth for Europe" was adopted on 9th October at the EurOCEAN2014 Conference, calling for a “fully operational EMODnet, ensuring collected data are well managed and freely available” 
    • November 2014: Launch of EMODnet Central Portal Query Tool demonstration service (www.emodnet.eu/dataservices/) allowing users to query data layers originating from several different EMODnet thematic portals simultaneously for a defined set of coordinates 
    • December 2014: 3rd EMODnet Steering Committee (9-10/12/2014, Brussels) agrees to organise all annual thematic lot meetings jointly back to back with an EMODnet Conference in October 2015
    • February 2015: Consolidation of the EMODnet-MSFD high level interaction process bringing together key MSFD actors and other environmental monitoring frameworks with EMODnet developers to ensure that products delivered by EMODnet (pollution, marine life distribution) meet the needs of MSFD as well as other environmental monitoring/reporting obligations 
    • April 2015: Launch of new Horizon 2020 projects AtlantOS and Columbus with strong involvement of core EMODnet actors 
    • May 2015: Successful contribution and representation of EMODnet at the European Maritime Day 2015 in Athens/Piraeus through (i) a workshop on ocean observation and marine data with several presentations on EMODnet, and (ii) demonstrations of EMODnet portals at a dedicated EMODnet information booth 
    • May 2015: production and release of an EMODnet video promoting the importance of sharing marine data and information through an interoperable data infrastructure and the relevance of EMODnet to achieve the Marine Knowledge 2020 objectives. The video can be viewed online at http://www.emodnet.eu/video 
    • June 2015: Successful launch of a number of new EMODnet phase II projects including the remaining Sea-basin Checkpoints for the Atlantic, Baltic Sea, Arctic and Black Sea, as well as a new project on Coastal Mapping 
    • June-July 2015: EMODnet marathon meeting from 30 June till 3 July 2015 at the Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Ispra entailing an (i) EMODnet-INSPIRE Meeting, (ii) 4th EMODnet Steering Committee meeting, (iii) an EMODnet Open Seminar and (iv) an internal meeting on marine information systems 
    • July 2015: EMODnet representatives participate high level meeting at the European Parliament on marine data collection and management (2 July 2015, Brussels): Marine Data: What role for Europe?

    2. Specific progress and achievements of the thematic lots

    • EMODnet Bathymetry released a new EMODnet Digital Terrain Model (DTM) on 5 February 2015 with full European coverage at resolution of 1/8 * 1/8 arc minutes. This is a major step forward for EMODnet Bathymetry and an important achievement for EMODnet as a whole given the DTM is the most popular EMODnet product. EMODnet Bathymetry also increased the volume of data made available through its portal. The number of CDI (Common Data Index) entries for bathymetric datasets in European waters available from EMODnet Bathymetry reached 13906 survey data set entries from 27 data centres in 15 countries (increase of 3225 entries with respect to the previous reporting period). On 8 September 2015, an important update of the latest DTM was published by EMODnet Bathymetry which remediates several anomalies and includes layers showing high resolution bathymetry for selected coastal waters in Europe to test the concept of a multi resolution product.
    • The second year of the EMODnet Geology has been focused on the consolidation of the data products. Progress has been made in compiling information in all of the data product work packages, which has enabled the assessment of all seabed substrate information available at 1:1250000 scale, and its compilation at 1:1 million scale where higher resolution was not available. As the information layers have developed, there has been a significant increase in outreach and dissemination activities to raise awareness of the EMODnet Geology outputs and to engage potential users in gaining access to the information. The project portal was relaunched on December 2014 using GeoNetwork open-source catalogue application. Finally, a number of sub-groups have been formed both nationally and internationally to help co-ordinate the delivery and harmonization of information from countries such as Italy and regions such as the Adriatic and North seas. 
    • EMODnet Seabed Habitats has created a broad scale predictive EUSeaMap for the entire European marine area. This implied facing serious challenges such as those related to the lack of resolution of hydrodynamical models and general scarcity of benthos and geological data, which are required to calculate thresholds and tune the predictive models. Considerable progress has also been undertaken in improving the webGIS and adding new facilities and products, such as habitat maps from surveys, or Posidonia maps for the Mediterranean. EMODnet Sea Habitats progress depends heavily on other thematic lots’ work, such as Bathymetry, Biology and Geology. This has become more and more evident during the second year of contract, and links with these lots have been intensified. 
    • The second year of activity for EMODnet Chemistry focused on (1) collection of data on contaminants, dissolved gases and chlorophyll; (2) aggregation and validation of nutrients data collected during the first year; and (3) implementation of new visualization services. Data aggregation per region was carried out using the automatic Robot Harvester while the Regional Leaders validated the aggregated datasets. New visualization products such as dynamic time series or horizontal climatologies were generated with these datasets and made available on the EMODnet Chemistry data portal. The coordination of this work has required the agreement on detailed procedures for Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC) of data underlining the DIVA (Data-Interpolating Variational Analysis) products. Another important aspect of the work undertaken concerns the strengthening of communication with the Regional Sea Conventions to better align EMODnet efforts towards the requirements for environmental assessments in the framework of the MSFD.
    • The new portal of EMODnet Biology (http://www.emodnet-biology.eu) was officially launched in May 2015, after implementing several updates and new functionalities which improved the user-friendliness of the portal. The number of datasets that are currently downloadable through the portal has increased with 98 new datasets (from 575 to 673), overpassing the 20 million records. New products using DIVA software have been developed including the temporal distribution of the gridded abundance for six copepod species. This is part of the ICES OOPC (Operational Oceanographic Products and Services) and available via WMS/WFS. They can also be visualised as a video in the Biology portal along with other animations showing time series of abundance of several species of birds, fish, mammals, phytoplankton and zooplankton. Other important activities involved the digitization of ancient data through an open call for proposal and subsequent awarding of four data-rescue projects. 
    • Between September 2014 and August 2015, EMODnet Physics has dramatically increased the number of platforms accessible through their portal (1700 new ones out of 5500), including seven High Frequency Radars. Updated OGC-compliant WMS and WFS services have been released to better fulfil EMSA (European Marine Safety Agency) requirements. New products and services such as the Dashboard (offering statistics about the data portal content and usage), the High Frequency Radar THREDDS catalogue, or a series of wind products have been developed. The portal has been accordingly updated to accommodate these new services. Maintaining a fluid communication between EMODnet Physics and other stakeholders such as EuroGOOS, Copernicus CMEMS and SeaDataNet is particular relevant in order to better approach common challenges such as working towards a Single Sign-On procedure and several meetings were organized with this purpose. 
    • During the second year of contract, EMODnet Human Activities has made huge progress in completing the datasets for the different activities stipulated in the contract and also added some new ones taking into account suggestions of stakeholders. Data sources are not always willing to cooperate despite the repeated invitations to do so. This is considered particularly difficult for countries in the Black Sea region. A complete overview of what has been achieved so far in terms of data quality and coverage for all datasets is available in the 2nd annual report of the Human Activities portal (available at DG MARE’s Maritime Forum). Conscious of the importance of having a user-friendly, attractive web interface for users, several visual and functional improvements were implemented and a new version of the website was released. In addition to that, great efforts have been done to maintain a fluent dialogue with key stakeholders such as the regional conventions (in particular OSPAR) and other relevant organisations such as ICES, through several meetings and teleconferences.

    3. EMODnet Central Portal

    Since its launch in 2013, the EMODnet Central Portal landing page www.emodnet.eu has grown to become a core component in the implementation of the EMODnet Communication Strategy as well as providing additional data services for users. With all EMODnet communication products (video, brochure, leaflet, etc.) made available on www.emodnet.eu/about in an attractive way, it has become a vast source of information about EMODnet activities as well as acting as the gateway to the thematic and regional activities. In 2015, the EMODnet Secretariat reviewed all information pages providing summary overviews and access to the individual data portals and Sea-basin checkpoints.

    In November 2014, the first EMODnet data service was launched as a demo on the EMODnet Central Portal: the EMODnet Query Tool service (www.emodnet.eu/dataservices/) allowing users to query data layers originating from several different EMODnet thematic portals simultaneously for a defined set of coordinates. This implements the first use case which was defined to initiate the development of added value functionality available from the central portal. However, much work remains to make the Query Tool demo fully functional and implement other use cases before the Central Portal achieves its core goals.

    4. The EMODnet Sea-basin checkpoints

    EMODnet Sea-basin checkpoints were a novelty in Phase II, with the advent of two pilots (North Sea and the Mediterranean) in October 2013 and December 2013 respectively. During the reporting period, both pilots held their first annual meetings as well as expert-panel meetings. Despite having a different focus and remit to the thematic lots, sea-basin checkpoints have very actively contributed to the development of EMODnet, providing comments and suggestions via reports and via contributions during meetings such as the Steering Committee meetings. This approach has improved the exchange of information between the regional and thematic lots which has proven useful for both: the thematic lot coordinators have acted as a sounding board and source of information for the regional lots to get started, while the recommendations from the regional lots have helped improve the services of the thematic lots. Throughout 2015 new contracts have been granted for Sea-basin checkpoint projects covering the Baltic, the Artic, Atlantic and the Black Sea. A joint kick-off meeting for these new projects took place early September (2-4 September 2015, Wallingford UK) with the valuable participation of the two pilot checkpoints who shared their experiences acquired so far as guidance to the new activities.

    • The EMODnet North Sea Checkpoint project completed and delivered Data Adequacy Reports (DARs) for the challenges Wind Farm Sitting, Marine Protected Areas, and Climate and Coast Protection. An expert panel meeting was held in May 2015 and their comments were taken into account in the DARs. A Data Advisor facility is being developed with a similar concept to websites such as TripAdvisor, where users provide valuation about how their requirements (the challenges) are met by the establishments (datasets). This valuation can be of help if one wants to use data with confidence for another purpose than the original purpose it was collected for. This goes towards realising the principle of “Collect once, use many times”, with the Data Advisor containing challenge valuation information. A prototype version of this Data Advisor is now available for trial.
    • EMODnet Mediterranean Sea Checkpoint released an improved version of its portal in February 2015 featuring new services such as a “Checkpoint Browser", "Checkpoint GIS" and a “Checkpoint Dashboard”. A new methodology was designed to assess the adequacy of data considering all challenges simultaneously. This contrasts with the approach followed by the North Sea Checkpoint, where there is a DAR per challenge. Adequacy is separated into two “territories”, the first covering the availability of the data and the second covering their appropriateness. The first DAR for the Mediterranean Sea (June 2015) focused on the first territory and used 8 indicators to address the availability of data.

    5. Remaining challenges of common interest

    While major progress has been achieved at various levels (data uptake, access, portal development, etc.), a number of important challenges remain to be addressed by all EMODnet lots to progress further. These challenges are not new and were already highlighted and detailed in the first year progress report. The main common challenges relate to developing a single sign-on procedure; maintaining realistic stakeholder expectations; open access/licences; data ingestion; user feedback and interoperability issues. For details we refer to the first year progress report and the Secretariat activity report.

    More information:

    Download and read the full report here: EMODnet annual progress update 2014-2015

    Additional detailed information and the annual progress reports of each thematic lot can be found on the EMODnet thematic portals:

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