The European Marine Board and United Front in Ocean Observation

As the world’s oceans become increasingly exposed to rapidly growing pressures, long-term data sets are fundamental for monitoring these processes and understanding the complex and vast oceanic environment. In July 2016, the European Marine Board (EMB), a partnership of major national marine and oceanographic institutes in Europe, identified critical gaps within ocean observation and seafloor mapping capabilities. Their mission, along with many organizations and networks, is to unite existing ocean observing capacity and launch Europe into a time of ocean erudition.
 
For 20 years the EMB has provided a unique platform for the successful development of marine research policy and strategy. The formation of partnerships and the birth of valuable networks has been a product of EMB activity, influencing marine research throughout Europe, and the world. Today, the EMB represents 35 member organizations and provides a united front enabling Europe to form a common vision and find solutions to address key global issues. 
 
Deputy Director of Alfred Wegener Institute for Marine and Polar Research (AWI), Chair of Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO) and EMB member Prof. Karen Wiltshire explains, “Observations are imperative for the earth systems future. The world is blue, so, therefore, the amount of knowledge that we require in order to survive and adapt to climate change is quite considerable. We cannot do this without ocean observations. Unless we know how our oceans are structured, which includes seafloor mapping, we can’t come up with good strategies for moorings or governance. We still don’t know what type of habitats we have in our oceans. It is because we lack this knowledge that we cannot yet know all the areas that should be observed.”
 
EU directives and policies such as the Integrated Maritime Policy, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the Marine Spatial Planning Directive and the Common Fisheries Policy all rely fundamentally on marine observations, data and data products for their successful implementation. As most of the ocean lies beyond the jurisdiction of individual nations, coordinated international collaborations, such as the European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and water-column Observatory (EMSO) and Euro-Argo, are essential for developing and operating fit-for-purpose ocean observing systems and their integration into modeling and forecasting activities. The EU has also been active in implementing a Europe-wide effort to promote the accessibility and use by multiple sectors of marine data. The European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) is Commission action designed to implement the far-reaching strategic goals of the EU Marine Knowledge 2020 Strategy, which sets targets for vastly improved knowledge of Europe’s marine territories.
 
Since its establishment, the EMB has advocated for a more coordinated and effective European effort to monitor and understand the state and variability of Europe’s regional seas and the global ocean. The European Global Ocean Observing System (EuroGOOS) and the EMB are working together to promote and facilitate an overarching framework for advancing ocean observation across Europe, referred to as the European Ocean Observing System (EOOS). This comprehensive framework will connect more effectively the currently fragmented and complex ocean observing capacity and act as a single, well-organized voice for Europe.
 
Niall McDonough, Executive Secretary, EMB comments, “EOOS will not take ownership or control of ocean observing in Europe. Rather, EOOS will provide a light and flexible coordinating framework, making it more efficient and effective at different geographical scales and for different users. In this way, EOOS can help add value to existing observing efforts, empowering those who are already working to advance ocean observing in Europe, and catalyzing new initiatives in a strategic way, targeting identified gaps and communicating progress to a wide range of stakeholders.”
 
Marine ecosystems are already under considerable pressure from global climate change and ocean acidification as well as localized stressors from human pollution and commercial activities. Although international efforts are underway to monitor the ocean and these impacts, only 5% of the seafloor has been surveyed to modern standards. There are also significant issues in terms of spatial coverage, the parameters being measured, the frequency of collection and the availability and ease of access to quality controlled data in real-time, or near real-time. 
 
According to the EMB, particular emphasis must also be placed on biological observing. While a relatively advanced operational oceanography capability collects physical data at a global scale from both in situ and satellite systems, the collection of chemical, biogeochemical and biological data remains ad hoc and much less developed. There are few sustained biological observatories, a dwindling number of taxonomic experts and limited funding opportunities to increase observing efforts for biological or ecological characteristics. The EMB has recognized this as an urgent aspect to address and will begin work in late 2016 to produce a policy paper with recommendations on future biological observing needs.
 
“It will never be possible to have a full picture in time and space, so it is critical to ensure that all ocean observation efforts are maximized in terms of the use and relevance of data across multiple users including science, industry and government authorities. 
 
This is why we need close cooperation and coordination,” says McDonough. “From a scientific perspective, a particular emphasis must also be placed on long-term observing initiatives which deliver decadal time series, whether that be physical, chemical or biological. Understanding patterns of change and the impacts on marine systems is dependent on sustained operational observations.” 
 
Geographically, there are still many areas which are in need of long term observation that has not long been realized. These gaps exist for several reasons including logistics, resources and funding, but also due to the evolving focus and shifts in modern concerns over time.
 
Wiltshire adds, “The Arctic is now an area of concern. Gaps in Arctic ocean observations have a lot to do with the evolution of needs of individual countries, such as transport and general governance questions. We also have a critical gap in the upper North Sea as it’s very hard for us to get information as to how the water moves there. We have to model it and we also have to set up a few more long term moorings. Maybe 20 years ago, we might not have thought about the Arctic as we do now nor realized how important the inflow and outflow of the North Sea is. The more information we have, for example with climate change, the more we realize we might be missing bits. It’s up to us to readjust some of our observation systems to current concerns.”
 
Another key area within ocean observation, one EMB sees potential for immense opportunity, lies in the development of new observing sensors and platforms. Technology is advancing rapidly and with it the capacity for autonomous systems to be deployed for longer periods with lower energy demands. The support of innovation and advancement in future observing technologies will be key to achieving goals in ocean observation, both within Europe and globally.

Advancement through Unity 
The EU Blue Economy provides over five million jobs and approximately 4% of Europe’s Gross Domestic Product. New technologies, including underwater engineering and DNA sequencing, offer possibilities to increase the contribution between marine industry and science sectors. To capture this potential, the European Commission has launched a Blue Growth initiative which explores new ways to contribute to the EU’s economy through technological, industrial and financial innovation while respecting the scarcity and vulnerability of marine resources. 
 
Industry collects considerable amounts of ocean data throughout the process of offshore development, oil and gas, fisheries and aquaculture and ocean energy. Through openly sharing expertise and the creation of new opportunities for knowledge and data transfer, the EMB believe the benefits will be felt by both industry and science, forming a strong foundation to achieving a data-rich future for all.
 
Peter Heffernan, Chief Executive of the Marine Institute, Galway, Ireland and EMB member, describes the opportunities created by linking industry and scientific resources, “Ireland has existing expertise across a number of the key enabling technologies required to develop products and services that will support growth in emerging areas of the global blue economy while creating efficiencies and supporting sustainability across more established markets. Expertise in areas such as sensors, platforms, communications, robotics, informatics, computer vision and advanced materials can be harnessed in new ways to drive innovation in global marine markets with high growth potential. This will also support the sustainable development of our significant marine resource that is uniquely situated on the European Atlantic seaboard and a potential hotspot for developments in areas such as renewable energy, fisheries, shipping, marine security and surveillance and marine biotechnology.”
 
Against the Tide
The dream of an integrated ocean observation network, both internationally and across sectors will first need to overcome some key challenges. International cooperation is critical as is targeting appropriate funding in the right areas such as new biological sensors, training and reinvigorating Europe’s declining taxonomic expertise. High-risk projects must also be supported in order to develop innovation. 
 
There needs to be more opportunities which allow for marine data sharing collected by private enterprise to be utilized by science and public agencies. Data collected through publicly-funded initiatives, including research, must also be accessible and useful for industry in support of Blue Growth. Both these aspects, however, will first need to overcome the associated legal issues. The Commission is moving toward this goal for data generated through EC-funded research projects. From 2017, Horizon 2020 is adopting an open data policy for all projects funded through the program.
 
Finally, making the case to decision makers of the importance to investing in ocean observing systems and infrastructure requires better economic cost-benefit arguments.
 
Europe also lacks a ‘seabed mapping research center of excellence’. Knowledge resources are spread across numerous agencies and research centers, and related expertise has not been mapped out to date. This is largely because seabed mapping programs have been nationally operated rather than international research focused, as is the case with ocean observation. Resource allocation to assess the current knowledge and expertise base, and encourage collaboration between operational entities is also required. 
 
“Key seabed mapping data programs already in place don’t necessarily involve the key operational agencies or researchers. Partnerships are often developed through historical programs and initiatives, rather than bringing together the most appropriate expertise. Resource allocation mechanisms to bring all strategic stakeholders together is required, such as a network of marine data centers or active seabed mapping organizations,” explains Heffernan. “Ireland has built up considerable expertise in seabed mapping through INFOMAR, the national seabed mapping program carried out by the Geological Survey of Ireland and the Marine Institute. It is one of the largest civilian mapping exercises undertaken worldwide.” 
 
EMB has recently met through a high-level delegation with the EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, to discuss needs and strategic actions to improve Europe’s ocean observing system. While the meeting on July 8, 2016 produced a number of follow-up actions, the EMB will continue to work with the Commissioner and DG MARE to develop and shape the next actions to promote and expand Europe’s ocean observing capacity.
 
Going forward, the EMB will continue to work with its partner network, EuroGOOS, to develop EOOS. A Roadmap for EOOS is currently in development and will be discussed at a special event in the European Parliament on September 8. This will be followed by an open consultation with all stakeholders on EOOS in autumn 2016. 
 
“The global Ocean is facing multiple anthropogenic and natural stressors and consequently marine ecosystems are increasingly vulnerable to exceeding tipping points which may lead to irreversible change. Society will rely on scientific information to tackle these threats and potentially even turn challenges into opportunities A particularly important goal is to achieve a balance between protecting the marine environment and supporting Blue Growth,” states McDonough.
 
Further information:

 
Acknowledgements
Niall McDonough, Executive Secretary, European Marine Board
Prof Karen Wiltshire, Deputy Director of Alfred Wegener Institute for Marine and Polar Research (AWI) and Chair of Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO)
Peter Heffernan, Chief Executive of the Marine Institute, Ireland
 
 
(As published in the September 2016 edition of Marine Technology Reporter)
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Colour and Light in the Ocean from Earth Observation Workshop

Relevance and Applications Products from Space and Perspectives from Models

6 – 8 September 2016 | ESA-ESRIN, Frascati, Rome (Italy)

cleo_web_graphic

The Organising Committee of the Colour and Light in the Ocean from Earth Observation (CLEO) Workshop invites you to join us on 6-8 September 2016 at ESA ESRIN (http://www.esa.int/About_Us/ESRIN), in Frascati, Italy.

The CLEO Workshop aims to bring together all the professionals working in the field, to share the latest ideas and developments and to pave the way for future EO data exploitation and ocean-colour product development activities for research and modelling studies in climate, marine ecosystems and coastal processes in the era of the Sentinel-3 mission.

General topics considered appropriate for this workshop include:

*   Ocean-Colour Applications for Climate Studies

*   Light Field in the Ocean: Primary Production and Ocean Dynamics

*   Non-Chlorophyll Components of Ocean Optics

*   Pools of Carbon in the Ocean

*   Phytoplankton diversity at global and regional scales

The workshop will be organised around keynote and contributed presentations with ample time for discussion. The number of participants is limited and all attendees are encouraged to make a contribution.

Abstracts will be accepted until 15-06-2016  and participants will be notified of acceptance by 15-07-2016.

For further details and to submit your abstract and to register, please visit the workshop website at: http://congrexprojects.com/2016-events/Cleo/home

 

REMINDER: EUCC-France international conference Littoral 2016

logo_litThe 13th conference of the traditional biennial international event of the Coastal & Marine Union (EUCC) is  “Littoral 2016” : The changing littoral. Anticipation and adaptation to climate change. The conference will be held in Biarritz (France) from October 25 to October 29, 2016.

The presentation of the conference can be found here: English Presentation-Littoral 2016.

  • Deadline for the early-bird registration: 1st June 2016.

To find more information please consult the following website: littoral2016.univ-pau.fr

Climate models are more accurate than previously thought

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A depiction of how global temperatures calculated from models use air temperatures above the ocean surface (right frame), while observations are based on the water temperature in the top few metres (left frame)
 
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Comparison of 84 climate model simulations (using RCP8.5) against HadCRUT4 observations (black), using either air temperatures (red line and shading) or blended temperatures using the HadCRUT4 method (blue line and shading). The upper panel shows anomalies derived from the unmodified climate model results, the lower shows the results adjusted to include the effect of updated forcings from Schmidt et al. (2014).
Global climate models aren’t given nearly enough credit for their accurate global temperature change projections. As the 2014 IPCC report showed, observed global surface temperature changes have been within the range of climate model simulations.
Now a new study shows that the models were even more accurate than previously thought. In previous evaluations like the one done by the IPCC, climate model simulations of global surface air temperature were compared to global surface temperature observational records like HadCRUT4. However, over the oceans, HadCRUT4 uses sea surface temperatures rather than air temperatures.
Thus looking at modeled air temperatures and HadCRUT4 observations isn’t quite an apples-to-apples comparison for the oceans. As it turns out, sea surface temperatures haven’t been warming fast as marine air temperatures, so this comparison introduces a bias that makes the observations look cooler than the model simulations. In reality, the comparisons weren’t quite correct.
We have highlighted the fact that the planet does not warm uniformly. Air temperatures warm faster than the oceans, air temperatures over land warm faster than global air temperatures. When you put a number on global warming, that number always depends on what you are measuring. And when you do a comparison, you need to ensure you are comparing the same things.
The model projections have generally reported global air temperatures. That’s quite helpful, because we generally live in the air rather than the water. The observations, by mixing air and water temperatures, are expected to slightly underestimate the warming of the atmosphere.
The new study addresses this problem by instead blending the modeled air temperatures over land with the modeled sea surface temperatures to allow for an apples-to-apples comparison. The authors also identified another challenging issue for these model-data comparisons in the Arctic. Over sea ice, surface air temperature measurements are used, but for open ocean, sea surface temperatures are used.
As co-author Michael Mann notes, as Arctic sea ice continues to melt away, this is another factor that accurate model-data comparisons must account for.
One key complication that arises is that the observations typically extrapolate land temperatures over sea ice covered regions since the sea surface temperature is not accessible in that case. But the distribution of sea ice changes seasonally, and there is a long-term trend toward decreasing sea ice in many regions. So the observations actually represent a moving target.

When accounting for these factors, the study finds that the difference between observed and modeled temperatures since 1975 is smaller than previously believed. The models had projected a 0.226°C per decade global surface air warming trend for 1975–2014 (and 0.212°C per decade over the geographic area covered by the HadCRUT4 record). However, when matching the HadCRUT4 methods for measuring sea surface temperatures, the modeled trend is reduced to 0.196°C per decade. The observed HadCRUT4 trend is 0.170°C per decade.

When doing an apples-to-apples comparison, the difference between modeled global temperature simulations and observations is 38% smaller than previous estimates. As noted in a 2014 paper led by NASA GISS director Gavin Schmidt, less energy from the sun has reached the Earth’s surface than anticipated in these model simulations, both because solar activity declined more than expected, and volcanic activity was higher than expected. Ed Hawkins, another co-author of this study, wrote about this effect.
 
Further information:
Climate models are even more accurate than you thought
The difference between modeled and observed global surface temperature changes is 38% smaller than previously thought
 

Robust comparison of climate models with observations using blended land air and ocean sea surface temperatures

Authors Kevin Cowtan,Zeke Hausfather, Ed Hawkins, Peter Jacobs, Michael E. Mann, Sonya K. Miller, Byron A. Steinman, Martin B. Stolpe, Robert G. Way

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL064888/full

Abstract

The level of agreement between climate model simulations and observed surface temperature change is a topic of scientific and policy concern. While the Earth system continues to accumulate energy due to anthropogenic and other radiative forcings, estimates of recent surface temperature evolution fall at the lower end of climate model projections. Global mean temperatures from climate model simulations are typically calculated using surface air temperatures, while the corresponding observations are based on a blend of air and sea surface temperatures. This work quantifies a systematic bias in model-observation comparisons arising from differential warming rates between sea surface temperatures and surface air temperatures over oceans. A further bias arises from the treatment of temperatures in regions where the sea ice boundary has changed. Applying the methodology of the HadCRUT4 record to climate model temperature fields accounts for 38% of the discrepancy in trend between models and observations over the period 1975-2014.

Europe’s Sentinel-2a satellite in full operation for October 2015 with some early images released

Artist's impression of Sentinel-2a

When Sentinel-2a is joined in orbit by Sentinel-2b, the revisit time to any land surface will be five days or less.

The Sentinel-2a satellite, which takes visible and infrared pictures of the Earth, was launched in June and is now undergoing a period of commissioning.The observer is the second dedicated mission to fly in the European Union’s Copernicus programme. This will see a multi-billion-euro series of satellite sensors put in orbit over the next few years. Sentinel-2a, however, will be the system’s backbone, producing a wide range of imaging products that will focus predominantly on the planet’s land surface. The European Space Agency, which led the development of the platform, released views on what to expect from cities and forests to glaciers and coral reefs.

Sentinel-2a is the European equivalent of America’s Landsat mission, which has been imaging the surface of the Earth for 40 years. The US satellite’s data is free and open, which has driven a multitude of applications. Sentinel’s data has been designed to be complementary, but the platform also represents a big jump in capability.Its imaging instrument will be sensitive across more bands of light (13 versus Landsat’s eight), allowing it to discern more information about the land beneath it; and Sentinel-2a will “carpet map” a much wider strip of ground (290km versus 185km).

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Italy’s Venice lagoon, where image demonstrates the ability to monitor sediment transport in coastal waters.

Sentinel-2 image over southern Spain from 12 July 2015, and how information on inland water bodies can be isolated to help better detect changes. By providing measurements of water quality and detecting changes, Sentinel-2 can support the sustainable management of water resources.

Uluru

Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park (with Uluru, or Ayers Rock, on the right): Australia recently signed an agreement with Esa to host a mirror server for Sentinel-2a data

Irrigation fields

Centre-pivot irrigation fields in Saudi Arabia: A false colour image that highlights the water-fed vegetation in the desert.

Glaciers in western Greenland

Greenland’s glaciers

Corals off Saudi Arabia

Corals off Saudi Arabia: Although primarily a mission to study land surfaces, Sentinel-2a will also return data on coastal waters.

Berlin

Berlin is one of Europe’s greenest capitals;  false colouring highlights vegetation in red

Naples

Naples and Mount Vesuvius: Sentinel data will track environmental change but also inform and help enforce EU policy.

Further information

http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Observing_the_Earth/Copernicus/Sentinel-2/First_applications_from_Sentinel-2A

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-33655004

The Eye on Earth Summit (October 6 to 8, Abu Dhabi), The Oceans & Blue Carbon Special Initiative , and Data Innovation Challenges

By Magdalena A K Muir, Climate Editor

Following the 2011 inaugural Summit, the Eye on Earth 2015  promotes dialogue and drives international action that revolutionises the way collect, access, share and use data and information for real-world change. The 2015 summit will seek to foster a culture of collaboration through a network committed to achieving scalable impact for a sustainable future. Based on their focus on the Oceans and Blue Carbon initiative, the 2015 Summit is very relevant for coastal and marine areas.

The Oceans & Blue Carbon Initiative

  • Uses innovative technologies and Citizen Science techniques to develop dynamic habitat mapping and validation and upload tools to deliver timely, fit-for purpose, reliable and interoperable spatial datasets for mangroves, saltmarshes and sea grasses;
  • Develops internationally approved methodologies and data standards to meet the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) requirements for transparent, complete, consistent, comparable and accurate data;
  • Builds user communities, networks and local capacities to maximise the uptake of methodologies, data interoperability, and implementation and interpretation of carbon and ecosystem service assessments for management planning and knowledge sharing;
  • Integrates work across on-going and future activities in Blue Carbon on a global scale.
  • Increases usage of ecosystem based approached in coastal management and conservation, which maximise climate change mitigation and adaptation potential;
  • Reduces uncertainties and risk in trade-offs between development and conservation, particularly with respect to vulnerable populations; and
  • Develops greater local capacity to use market-based mechanisms as a source of sustainable financing for coastal management and conservation.

Stakeholders of the Oceans & Blue Carbon initiative include: Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI), Global Environment Fund (GEF), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UNEP Global Resource Information Database (GRID) – Arendal, World Bank, Blue Ventures, Ecological Society of America (ESA), United States Geological Survey (USGS), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), Forest Trends, Open Oceans Global (OOG) and Conservation International.

Data Innovation Challenges

The organizers of the Eye on Earth Summit have  three data innovation challenges for which the finalists will have the opportunity to present their ideas at the Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The three competitions launched are the Data Innovation Showcase, Data Visualization Challenge and Blogging Competition, all of which support the Summit in its focus on using data to secure future for coasts, oceans and the planet..

Under the Innovation Showcase, citizen scientists are invited to create projects that use open data to: better manage food distribution and consumption, and reduce waste; support the health of forest ecosystems; and benefit urban biodiversity. According to the competition organizers, possible project ideas range from crowdsourcing data for tree inventories to creating a platform for getting excess food to people in need. Three finalists will be selected from this competition to present their work at the Summit, where a winner will be chosen.

Artists, designers and others interested in the creative display of data are invited to take part in the Visualization Challenge, which requires entrants to build visual interpretations of the social and economic impacts of poor air quality, oceanic warming and natural disasters. Participants can use images, animations, infographics, three-dimensional (3-D) models, computer simulations, interactive maps and diagrams, and other types of visualizations. One finalist will be selected to attend the Summit.

The Blogging Competition calls on writers and bloggers to submit a piece under the theme ‘A Better World through Knowledge and Information.’ The submissions are requested to be aimed at catalyzing the ‘data revolution’ by addressing how to improve data availability for a more sustainable future and healthier planet. The winner will report live from the Summit as the ‘Official Eye on Earth Summit 2015 Blogger.’ The selected finalists will have their airfare and lodging covered so they may participate in the Summit, which will take place on 6-8 October 2015, in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Further information:

http://www.eoesummit.org/
 http://nr.iisd.org/news/eye-on-earth-launches-data-innovation-visualization-blogging-competitions/

Eye On Earth


EU Project GOUV’AIRNANCE reduces Mediterranean air pollution through measurements and integrated governance for Tripoli, Aqaba , Valencia and Marseille

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An EU-funded cross-border cooperation project – GOUV’AIRNANCE – is working on monitoring air pollution in four Mediterranean cities: Aqaba in Jordan, Tripoli in Lebanon, Marseille in France, and Valencia in Spain. Different pilot solutions have been implemented including the launch of Air-Marseille, an online platform that provides real time measurements of air quality and offers advice on what to do during pollution peaks. Although the pilot projects have a local impact, the cross-border nature of GOUV’AIRNANCE means that experience and knowledge are shared more widely.
GOUV’AIRNANCE aims to reduce urban air pollution in the Mediterranean by the establishment of means of measurements and an integrated territorial governance of air quality in four Mediterranean cities: Tripoli (Lebanon), Aqaba (Jordan), Valencia (Spain) and Marseille (France). The project’s objective is reducing the health impact of air pollution in these cities, thanks to a better understanding of air quality in each area and information for citizens, including sensitive populations. The project also proposes to promote the integration of emission reduction measures as an essential dimension of sustainable urban planning documents.
The ENPI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme 2007/2013 is a multilateral cross-border cooperation programme funded by the European Union under the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument. It aims at reinforcing cooperation between the EU and partner countries’ regions located along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
Further Information:
 GOUV’AIRNANCE project website
 ENPI CBCMED – website
 Cross-border cooperation – fiche
 EU Neighbourhood Info Centre interview – Working across borders to bring people together