Strengthening Europe's eyes on the ocean

10/12/2019
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14 - Life Below Water

Kiel, 10 of December - An international consortium of 55 International partners launched the EuroSea Project at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel this week. The program - financed by the European Union (12.6 million euros until 2023) - aims to significantly improve ocean observation in Europe and beyond. UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission is taking part of this great adventure as a key partner and contributor. Storms, rising sea levels, tidal waves and pollution threaten people and ecosystems along the coasts. This is particularly true in Europe, a continent closely interlocked with the Ocean, with long its coastlines, many peninsulas, marginal seas, islands, gulfs and bays. In the region, experts have to deal with major gaps in Ocean information: "We want to pave the way for a sustained ocean observing system that not only provides researchers, but also users such as fisheries, aquaculture, coastal protection, offshore energy generation and ultimately the public with the information they need and demand".


An international consortium financed by EU

An international consortium of 55 partners has now joined forces in the EuroSea Project with the aim to improve Ocean Observation in Europe. EuroSea Project, coordinated at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, started a kick-off meeting at the opening conference at the Royal Belgium Institute for Natural Science (RBINS). The event gathered 80 researchers.

"The aim of the project is to better combine existing capacities in the European marine observing system, to fill existing gaps and to make the resulting data and information available to users more easily," explains Coordinator Dr. Toste Tanhua from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel.

Scientific and international institutions - such as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO), groups of network – such as the European Marine Board and the European part of the Global Ocean Observing System (EuroGOOS), and the industrial sector joined the consortium. 13 different countries are part of EuroSea Project.

Objectives of the EuroSea Project

EuroSea also focuses on the quality and usability of the collected data: "To this end, we are working closely with existing marine databases and data infrastructures and the EU BlueCloud project to improve capabilities in these areas and facilitate efficient data exchange," stresses the project coordinator. The ocean data should comply with the FAIR standard (findable, accessible, and interoperable). "Unfortunately, this is not always the case" says Dr. Tanhua.

"We want to pave the way for a sustained ocean observing system that not only provides researchers, but also users such as fisheries, aquaculture, coastal protection, offshore energy generation and ultimately the public with the information they need and demand. In doing so, we are also contributing to the United Nations' sustainable development goals, the UN Decade for Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, and the G7 Initiative Future of the Seas and Oceans," summarizes Dr. Tanhua.The project will contribute to ensuring that the system is fit for purpose, by connecting observations to users in three key area: Climate, Operational services and Ocean Health.

EuroSea is funded by the European Union within the framework of “The Future of Seas and Oceans Flagship Initiative” (under the grant agreement 862626).

Observing the Global Oceans has always been a priority for IOC. Through its Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS). IOC will play an important role in the EuroSea Project through supporting the development of EOOS (a European Ocean Observing System) as a part of GOOS, in supporting the development of Biological and Ecosystem observing networks in Europe, through JCOMMOPS the visualisation fo EOOS and the quality of metadata, and the spread of Ocean Best Practices, which are fundamental to data quality.

The project will also support an IOC Workshop on HABs. This collaboration is consistent with IOC's objective to increase sources of financing dedicated to ocean observing, data, science and capacity development for strengthening marine ecosystems.

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For more details, please contact:
Emma Heslop (e.heslop@unesco.org)
Albert Fischer (a.fischer@unesco.org)