Maritime Forum

Maritime Forum Themes


Second six-monthly progress meeting for ur-EMODNET preparatory actions

Event date:
25/05/2010 - 09:30 to 17:30
Table of Contents

    European Environment Agency, Kongens Nytorv 6, Copenhagen, Conference room 25/5

    The objective of the meeting was to review the ur-EMODNET preparatory actions that had begun a year previously. At this stage of the project preliminary portals for providing access to marine data were prepared.

    The meeting was attended by Volodymyr Myroschnychenko Black Sea Commission, Helen Glaves British Geological Survey, Alan Stevenson British Geological Survey, Miroslav Fanta BTC WATER, Trine Christiansen EEA, Andreas Meiner EEA, Mikko Strahlendorff EU Commission DG ENTR, Raf Deroo EU Commission DG MARE, Iain Shepherd EU Commission DG MARE, Gaëlle Le Bouler EU Commission DG RTD, Vittorio Barale EU Commission-JRC, Manuel Frias Vega HELCOM, Benoit Loubrieu IFREMER, Eric Moussat IFREMER, Jacques Populus IFREMER, Andy Cameron JNCC, Natalie Coltman JNCC, David Connor JNCC, Dick Schaap MARIS, Peter Hunter NOCS, Alessandra Giorgetti OGS Italy, Matteo Vinci OGS Italy, Gaël Morvan SHOM, Simon Claus VLIZ, Leen Vandepitte VLIZ, Colpan Beken MODEG, Frederique Blanc MODEG, Antonio Bode MODEG, Jean-François Bourillet MODEG, Peter Burkill MODEG, Hans Dahlin MODEG, Yann-Hervé De Roeck MODEG, Robert Gatliff MODEG, Lars Hansen MODEG, Neil Holdsworth MODEG, Remi Laane MODEG, Henry Vallius MODEG,

    Progress in Ur-EMODNET Preparatory Actions




    Data has been collected from hydrographic offices, authorities and research institutes. Where nothing else can be found, data from the public domain GEBCO has been used. Digital terrain models are being prepared for the Greater North Sea, the Celtic Sea, the Western and Central Mediterranean and the Ionian Sea. Hydrographic offices are generally providing gridded digital terrain data rather than surveys. Coastal data are particularly hard to obtain.

    For each tile the aim is to provide the mean water depth, the minimum and maximum values, the number of values used for interpolation, the standard deviation and the source of data. For some data obtained from hydrographic offices, these metadata are missing. The standard deviation is a measure of how well the mean depth represents the true value. In any case the results in some areas already show more detail than the publicly available GEBCO.

    It would be useful to see how the sea-bottom changes with time but many hydrographic offices do not keep archived data. When new data become available, the previous data is frequently discarded.

    A prototype portal is on-line.


    The work on geology started a month later than the other portals but progress has been good. The basic standards for underlying metadata are identical to those of GEO-SEAS, a research infrastructure project that aims to allow the sharing of raw geological data, and the OneGeologyEurope project which is producing 1 to 1 million scale geological maps of terrestrial Europe according to the standards of the global OneGeology, which is a global effort. Currently underlying strata are only available at 1 to 5 million so the EMODnet project should bring considerable benefits.

    Sediment layers are essential input for the habitat mapping project and as requested, these were delivered earlier than stipulated in the project. Early feedback is that 1 to 250,000 and better resolution in the "gravel" class would be more useful. This should be available in some areas. The Irish data, which is largely derived from multibeam surveys requires more ground-truthing in places. Eurosion coastline data is being updated.


    The chemistry lot, as expected, is proving challenging. The project is based firmly on the SeaDataNet structure with the first year's work focusing largely on data collection and quality control.

    The chemical species to be included, based on the requirements of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, have been chosen. Concentrations in water column, sediments and biota will be available through the portal. Records of nutrients are the most numerous. A preliminary version of the portal is already on-line.

    The data are complex and heterogeneous. The consortium are aware that ensuring comparability of measurements is a huge challenge. For instance concentrations in sediments are measured differently in Germany and the Netherlands. The participation of ICES, who hold data on behalf of OSPAR, HELCOM and EIONET, has strengthened the project but has also necessitates careful checking for duplicates. Some data are registered both with ICES and in national databases.

    It is hard to represent the point measurements as continuous values in time and space on maps. The DIVA software can interpolate in two dimensions but the values vary in four. In som cases it may be more realistic to use time and distance along the coast as coordinates. This has not been done yet. 


    The biology lot is based round the EurOBIS framework which ensures compatibility with ongoing international efforts and extra data is being sought for the North Sea and Iberian coast as indicated in the contract. Modifications to the SeaDataNet structure to cope with biological parameters are underway.

    Some of the issues were the same as for the chemical group. Removing duplicates for instance. The consortium suggested global unique identifiers. Also data in international datasets tends to be aggregated and it can be difficult understanding who collected them in the first place. Other issues are particular to biological data. Taxonomic resolution is better for animals than for plants.

    A prototype portal is on-line. Future versions will incorporate user feedback.

    The main issue for users will be processing the observations into indicators for abundance and diversity. Observations where a species was looked for but not observed are not generally recorded. Resolving this will be difficult and it was proposed to devote a special session of the Marine Observation and data expert Group to it.


    The habitat mapping product relies on data layers from other groups – particularly bathymetry from the biology lot and sediments from the geology project. Outside the area of ur-EMODnet coverage – the Western Mediterranean for instance – it has been hard to assemble the necessary sediment data. Calculating the energy layer has been harder than first thought and a specialist sub-contractor may be brought in.

    Maintaining a habitat classification scheme that is the same across all sea-basins has not yet been universally accepted. Some Mediterranean institutions prefer to deal with biocenosis which is based on observation of species rather than one based on physical conditions.

    Encouragingly other consortia are preparing compatible data layers for areas not covered by the contract. MESH-Atlantic will cover the Iberian Atlantic coast and a project is underway to cover the eastern Mediterranean; both supported by EU regional funding.

    Opinion of Regional Conventions

    The delegates from HELCOM and the Black Sea Commission thought that good progress had been made in the last six months. Now that the first versions of portals are on-line, the projects are beginning to provide demonstrable results.

    1. HELCOm are moving towards WMS-standards so it will be easier for them to share data with the projects.
    2. The parameters being made available through EMODnet cover 38% of those reported under HELCOM's mandatory regime and 50% oft those requested voluntarily.
    3. The convergence of EurOBIS with SeaDataNet is encouraging
    4. The time delay between sampling and distribution of data is stlll an issue,
    5. Improving GIS services. WMS on way so easier to share data
    6. The Black Sea Commission cannot provide data without the permissions of the data owners. Generally these are environment agencies whereas the EMODnet partners from this area are largely marine institutes.

    Opinion of MODEG

    The members of MODEG were largely impressed by the progress in the projects and indicated that they would provide a more considered and detailed opinion the following day.


    The Commission indicated that the interim reports marked a significant milestone in the projects. It is essential for the Commission procedures that these are submitted in time. The dates are those indicated in the table below


    Thematic Assembly Group Deadline for Interim Report
    hydrography 25 May 2010
    geology 16 July 2010
    chemistry 4 June 2010
    biology under review
    habitats approved
    hydrography 2 contract awaiting signature
    physics call still open

    Next meeting

    The next meeting will be in Brussels on 29 November 2010.