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Copernicus evolution - Preparing for the next generation of Copernicus Marine Service ocean models


Numerical codes shall be prepared to achieve smallest target effective resolution in the kilometric range constrained by high-resolution EO datasets. The following activities are required:

  • Deliver global ocean analyses and forecasts at a kilometric scale with additional process complexity;
  • Production of ocean forecasts and analyses that exploit upcoming HR satellite datasets;
  • Develop advanced numerical schemes with improved accuracy and stability;
  • Exploit the opportunities of new high performance computing (HPC) technology;
  • Allow easy interfacing of the Copernicus service with local coastal models, allowing for two-way data exchange between coastal systems and the Copernicus Marine System;
  • Assess the impact of solving the ocean dynamics at kilometric scales on the role of ocean on climate (e.g. vertical exchange of heat, representation of over flows);
  • Assess the impact of solving the ocean dynamics at kilometric scales on the coupling with biogeochemistry and on the carbon, oxygen and nutrient cycles.
  • Assess the adequacy and quality of satellite-derived ocean data into the coastal models, thus providing an opportunity for validation and integration with local ocean conditions.

A guidance document explaining the ongoing process to gather new user requirements is published together with this work programme[[]].

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

This topic contributes to the Horizon 2020 focus area ""Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future"".

The overarching challenge is to prepare the next generation of the Copernicus Marine Service in line with the evolution of requirements, policies and national expectations and also benefiting from advances in space, IT technologies and modelling and in accordance with the Copernicus institutional context.

The Copernicus Marine Service has now entered in full-scale operations. It delivers in support to European policies, International conventions (i.e. on climate) and also in support to Member States, observations, forecasts and reanalysis of the past of the ocean, at global scale but also on all European regional seas. It delivers a unique, consistent and integrated overview from the open ocean up to the coasts both in terms of physics and biogeochemistry.

At policy level, many directives related to the marine environment call for integrating in a coherent way all EU policies (the Water Framework Directive, Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the Habitats Directive, Maritime spatial Planning, etc...). EU Ministers have welcomed the Communication on International Ocean Governance, adopted by the Commission and the High Representative in November 2016, calling it a ""timely and relevant contribution to achieving […] better coordination and cooperation to ensure that oceans are safe, secure, conserved and sustainably used and managed."" Ministers stressed the urgent need for the EU and its Member States to step up efforts to protect the oceans and seas.

Hence, requirements from the coastal sector interested in integrated coastal zone management, spatial planning, natural risk mitigation, climate change impact mitigation or habitats and living resources monitoring were addressed. From the several improvement paths identified, a high priority is the evolution of Copernicus Marine Service global and regional systems to better describe ocean phenomenon with high dynamics at fine spatial scales to provide enhanced boundary conditions to coastal models (both physics, biogeochemistry or marine ecosystems) thus strengthening the links with downstream coastal monitoring activities from the public or private sectors.

Mesoscale to sub-mesoscale features such as fronts, meanders, internal waves eddies and filaments, as well as turbulent mixing are of fundamental importance for the exchanges of heat, fresh water, CO2, dissolved oxygen and nutrients between the surface and ocean interior, and in transition areas connecting the open ocean to coastal seas. The representation of tidal physics and wave-current interaction is also needed for a more complete representation of dynamical processes.

Small-scale dynamics is essential to better understand and represent ocean and climate interactions both for physics and biogeochemistry. Development of high-resolution global ocean models would also ultimately benefit to the development of higher resolution climate models needed for more skilful climate predictions.

The need for high-resolution global ocean models is also driven by the need for numerical models to develop a resolution capacity compliant with the spatial (and time) scales from present (Sentinels) and future EO satellites (e.g. wide-swath altimetry, geostationary sensors, surface currents).

Expected outcomes should be to:

  • Provide a significant contribution from the Science community to address the precedent list of unsolved issues related to a higher resolution of the ocean description;
  • Deliver developments based on the NEMO ocean model to easily transition to the Copernicus operational environment as this world-class ocean model already forms the basis of the majority of analysis and forecast products;
  • Prepare the necessary steps for further validation and integration into Copernicus and transition to operations;
  • Identify priorities for next developments both in EO processing, in-situ contribution (additional data sources), assimilation and modelling capacities;
  • Identify required coordination with other Copernicus services related to land, atmosphere or climate if so required;