The ocean plays a pivotal role in today’s global societal challenges from climate change to plastic pollution and food security. Yet, with more than 80 percent of the world’s oceans unexplored and unmapped1, it is one of the final frontiers of our planet. This however, is not due to a lack of effort. Over the last decades, Europe has built an extensive network of marine research infrastructures that allows scientists and researchers to explore, sample and learn about our ocean in ways never before imaginable. This vital marine research allows us to improve weather forecasts, ensure maritime safety, secure the availability of seafood for generations to come, protect marine ecosystems and biodiversity, advance our understanding of climate change, discover new ways of addressing it and much more.
Marine research infrastructures come in many shapes and sizes. At the heart of marine science, are the research vessels that offer access to the seas and oceans where observations and data are collected2. All sorts of underwater equipment exists to observe and sample the ocean. This includes Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV’s) and Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV’s) that can be fitted with cameras and videos to collect imagery of the marine world, carry sensors and samplers to assess the marine environment such as the sea water temperature, salt content, oxygen and carbon dioxide. On some platforms, drilling equipment is used to investigate the ocean’s past registered in the seafloor sediments. Other infrastructure includes satellites to observe the ocean from space, autonomous buoys, drifters, fixed sensors and gliders that record changes in ocean characteristics over time, experimental laboratories, and much more.
In order to make optimal use of this infrastructure and provide coordinated and streamlined access to marine researchers, the European Centre for Information of Marine Science and Technology - EurOcean – has compiled a Marine Research Infrastructures Database. This database is a comprehensive searchable listing of over 900 facilities in Europe that are dedicated to marine science activities3. The map of the week features the locations of the different marine research infrastructures listed in the database. Learn more about a particular European marine research facility or installation by clicking on its icon.
The data in this map were provided by EurOcean.