High tech protection of European marine environment

July 4, 2005

Brussels, 01 Jul 2005

Safeguarding the European coastline from natural or man-made pollution crises and harmful alga blooms (HABs) is an environment protection priority for Europe. Thanks to the DISMAR project, a new system, currently in operational demonstration phase, has brought together the vast range of data from weather and ocean monitoring stations across Europe. Likely outcomes can now be predicted, enabling the authorities to best respond to pollution crises.

Even if oils spills are unanimously recognised as major ecological disasters, the risks associated with ecological pollution are often underestimated: HABs can destroy an entire coastal ecology, robbing the water of vital oxygen, sun and nutrients, killing fish and disrupting the whole food chain, local tourism and the fishing industry.

DISMAR stands for Data Integration System for Marine Pollution and Water Quality. The overall objective of project, funded under the information society technologies (IST) strand of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) is to develop an advanced, intelligent information system to monitor and forecast the marine environment and thus improve management of pollution crises in Europe's coastal and ocean regions. The system will support public authorities and emergency services who are responsible for prevention, mitigation and recovery in such crises.

According to Dr Stein Sandven, DISMAR project coordinator and Research Director of the NERSC, Norway's Environmental and Remote Sensing Centre, the operational demonstrator is ready and, although some technical improvements might be necessary, the system works and the project will be finished in six months.

The main goal of DISMAR is to develop a distributed system for monitoring and forecasting the marine environment. The system integrates data from Europe's monitoring stations into a variety of modelling systems. When an oil spill or HAB occurs, it is vital to anticipate how ocean currents and weather patterns will affect the clean up, and what areas will be at risk in order to prioritise and direct the appropriate response. By integrating a wide variety of data, DISMAR will be a powerful tool for this.

DISMAR will provide a single entry point, via a web portal, to several services delivering satellite data and other observations as well as model results, conforming to international standards for both metadata and data. DISMAR will conform, as much as possible, to INSPIRE guidelines. INSPIRE has defined a set of common principles and an architectural framework for the development of a spatial data infrastructure for Europe, based on the deployment of interoperable spatial information services over the Internet.

The DISMAR consortium consists of 17 organisations from six countries: Norway, Germany, Italy, France, the UK and Ireland. The team initially deployed their system in six European coastal sites, broadly representing the various coastal ecologies found around Europe. These include the North Sea/Skagerrak area, the coasts of Germany, Italy, France, the UK and South-West Ireland. These locations also emphasise the cross-border nature of man-made or ecological pollution.

The team now plans to continue its work and expand it to cover more of Europe. The team plans to apply for more funding to put DISMAR on an operational footing. 'If we can get another three-year project to pursue this research, we could really go a long way to making this service operational on a Europe-wide basis,' Mr Sandven told IST Results.

For further information, please consult the following web address: http:///istresults.cordis.lu/index.cfm/se ction/news/tpl/article/BrowsingType/Feat ures/ID/77458

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities
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