Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

OPEC — Result In Brief

Project ID: 283291
Funded under: FP7-SPACE
Country: United Kingdom

New tools help monitor the European marine environment

Marine environments are hugely important to humans for a variety of commercial and environmental reasons, and they are the most easily disrupted by climate change. An EU-funded consortium has developed and tested ecosystem monitoring and prediction tools for implementation across European seas and oceans.
New tools help monitor the European marine environment
It is important that the marine environment is observed and monitored in order to provide high-quality environmental data. This allows us to understand its role in the Earth system, track changes and predict potential responses to factors stressing the oceans.

The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) is a Europe-wide initiative that enforces improved marine ecosystem conservation and management. In order to achieve the goals of the MSFD, comprehensive ecosystem monitoring and prediction is required.

To meet these needs the EU established the project OPEC (Operational ecology: Ecosystem forecast products to enhance marine GMES applications). Its main objective was to develop and evaluate ecosystem forecast systems for the protection of European seas. The systems include hydrodynamics, lower and higher trophic levels (plankton to fish), and biological data assimilation.

Project partners created a model for each marine region in Europe, developed new rapid ecosystem assessment tools and provided open access to monitoring data. Regional models, incorporating physical, chemical and biological data for a complete ecosystem model, were also built and tested.

In addition, data delivery and knowledge transfer tools were completed and the portal is now available in alpha form. The portal allows users to query and export simulated ecosystem data for European regional seas, visualise it and download and process it, free of charge.

A rapid environmental assessment tool blends model and observational data to provide the best available estimates of the state of the ecosystem over the last three months. Researchers also assessed the effectiveness of the current operational ecosystem monitoring system and made recommendations for future monitoring.

OPEC has successfully demonstrated that its systems have the ability to make accurate seasonal ecosystem forecasts. This will benefit the European operational oceanography community, decision makers and the wider marine science community. It will also be of interest to small and medium-sized enterprises aiming to develop downstream services.

Related information

Keywords

Marine environment, ecosystem, seas, oceans, operational ecology
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