OBSERVER: Copernicus Marine Service, Beyond Ocean Data CSO Tanya Walker
Thu, 01/04/2021 - 12:59
The Copernicus Marine Service monitors, collects and distributes information on the state of the ocean, but it also strives to cultivate the knowledge base available for its twelve identified blue market segments. To this end, the Copernicus Marine Service has been working on developing a product portfolio aimed at bringing fit-for-purpose information to different audiences. This growing repository of information can be viewed on the Services Page. A new version of the website was recently launched, which includes many new functionalities with content created that provides more information about public and international marine-related policies, the fight against plastic pollution, societal awareness, and monitoring the Blue (physical), White (sea ice), and Green (biogeochemical) Ocean.
The European Union (EU) is a leader in ocean conservation and observation with several policies and initiatives that are decisive in protecting the environment, advancing the economy and improving the lives of citizens. Copernicus Marine Service data and information is used by public authorities and maritime actors to foster informed decision-making for a healthy ocean. Ocean data are key for the deployment of a wide range of policies in areas such as the Arctic region, environmental conservation, climate change, biodiversity protection, water quality, coastal regions, plastic pollution and international cooperation. Many international bodies and actors, such as the G7 and G20, the UN and the IPCC (all supporting the Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs) have also recognised the importance of ocean data.
Since 2020, the Copernicus Marine Service has been closely involved in the European Green Deal, a roadmap for making the EU’s economy sustainable, and which provides a set of policy initiatives and climate action plans. It is a new growth strategy that aims to transform the EU’s economy to ensure a sustainable future. For example, through the EU4OceanObs project, which serves to strengthen international ocean governance and commitment for a comprehensive global ocean observing system, the Copernicus Marine Service is recognised for providing data management infrastructure and access portals, both key parts of the value chain.
Example of how Copernicus Marine Service data can support marine policies, including biodiversity monitoring. Source: The Copernicus Marine Blue Book for a Sustainable Ocean, 2019
Every year, an estimated 8 million tonnes (Mt) of plastic litter and 1.5 Mt of primary microplastic ends up in the ocean, increasing the mass of plastic that is accumulating in the ocean. Marine plastic litter is damaging to marine ecosystems and wildlife and it is an issue that countries around the world are increasingly interested in addressing. A new section on the topic presents themes to understand marine plastic pollution, monitoring methods, sources and impacts, exploring mitigation and reduction policies and initiatives, and how the Copernicus Marine Service can support this cause.
Timeline of pertinent initiatives to build an international legal framework to tackle plastic pollution. Source: Copernicus Marine Service
The UN has declared that we are in the Decade of the Ocean, which places paramount importance on understanding and protecting the ocean and its natural resources. “The Science We Need for the Future We Want", is one of the mottos of the UN Ocean Decade, meaning that ocean observations are critical to inform progress towards meeting the UN’s sustainable development agenda.
The Copernicus Marine Service is considered a reference for marine data and continuously works to evolve its methods and technology to advance the science behind its operational service. For example, several products of the service evolution programme include the use of neural networks, which exploit sampling data gathered. The many numerical models of the Global Ocean and European Seas include data assimilation methods applying a data-driven constraint on the model results. Such numerical modelling uses as many observed data as possible from in situ or satellite sources, and represents interactions of the ocean with sea ice, the atmosphere and the marine biogeochemistry using state-of-the-art parameterisations and algorithms. These models are in a way a prototype for a numerical twin of the ocean.
The Digital Twin of the Ocean (DTO) is the next step, filling the need to integrate a wide range of existing and new data sources, to transform data into knowledge and to connect, engage, and empower citizens, governments and industries by providing them with the capacity to inform their decisions. Mercator Ocean, which implements the Copernicus Marine Service, is participating in the ESA Digital Twin Earth (DTE) Challenge. This on-going project seeks to stimulate applications which combine Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data from Copernicus Sentinels and other Earth observation (EO) data. The goal is to provide advanced forecasting capabilities on the impact of climate change and to facilitate responses to societal challenges.
A call for tender was published at the end of September 2020 by the European Commission as part of the H2020 Framework Programme (see here). The “Transparent & Accessible Seas and Oceans: Towards a Digital Twin of the Ocean” call will contribute to the Commission’s Green Deal and Digital Package commitments to develop a very high precision digital model of the Earth (Destination Earth initiative). It will build on the integration of existing EU leading-edge capacities in ocean observation (such as Eurofleets+, EuroArgo, Jerico, EMBRC, etc.), data infrastructures and forecasting services (Copernicus, EMODnet, Blue Cloud, ERICs, etc.) through innovative IT technology.
Ocean literacy, education and outreach are important parts of the Copernicus Marine Service’s strategy for reaching a wider audience and providing information about the ocean’s physical state and the challenges it faces. The Copernicus Marine Service provides access to marine data and ocean literacy information, as well as technical support to build educational tools. During awareness events, scientists from the Copernicus Marine Service scientists are also able to engage in sharing ocean literacy tools and materials.
A key part of this is developing partnerships with non-profit organisations, as well as leading and participating in awareness events. Through ocean literacy networks, non-profit partners (such as Children for the Oceans, Coral Guardian, Emily Penn’s eXXpedition) and events, the Copernicus Marine Service and Mercator Ocean share scientific knowledge with civil society and promote sustainable ocean initiatives. The Copernicus Marine Service estimates that such actions have reached out to about 2.2 million citizens through outreach events, partner initiatives, and museum exhibitions.
Collage of outreach events. Source: Copernicus Marine Service
Monitoring the Ocean
The Copernicus Marine service is best known for providing ocean data and analysis, notably through the product catalogue, the ocean monitoring indicators catalogue, and ocean state reports. The data comes from global and regional numerical models, in situ observations, and satellite observations. The ocean variables provided by the Copernicus Marine Service can be divided into three main categories, referred to by their associated colour: the Blue (physical), the Green (biogeochemical) and the White (sea ice) Ocean. The Copernicus Marine Service has developed specific content to explain these marine variables and make them more easily available to users. You can further interact with these data through the MyOcean Viewer.
Monitoring the Blue Ocean, view here.
User Uptake Programme Release
The Copernicus Marine Service has just finished the 3rd cycle of the Copernicus Marine Service User Uptake Programme, which showcases around 15 new Use Case Demos that will help stakeholders in a variety of sectors to make informed decisions. In this programme key players in the field receive funding to develop applications and services based on Copernicus Marine data and information. Forming an integral part of our service, these ‘demo cases’ also serve as best practice examples, and new users are encouraged to take inspiration from them to create a whole new range of downstream services and applications.
Designed to provide tailored information to of any of the Blue markets, this new set of demo cases range from applications that give accurate sea ice information for navigational purposes to a service that gives an accurate representation of extreme ocean conditions for the whole Mediterranean Sea.
Thu, 01/04/2021 - 12:00