About
Who we are and what we do
In The Spotlight
Each month, we bring you a deeper look at what our Members do in relation to our three core activities: Marine Research Infrastructures, Marine Knowledge Management, and Marine Science Communication and Outreach.

IEO, Spain | June 2019

The Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) was created in April, 1914, being one of the first organisms in the world fully devoted to marine science research, especially in relation to scientific knowledge of the oceans, sustainability of fishing resources and the marine environment.

Its total budget exceeds 65 million Euros and has a wide geographical coverage with central services in Madrid and nine coastal oceanographic centers. Its total staff is around 600 people, being the 80% of them devoted to research activities

The IEO activities are not limited to carrying out basic and applied research, it also provides scientific and technological advice to administrations in topics related to oceanography and marine sciences. In fact, according to the Marine Fisheries Act of 2001, the IEO is the research and advisory institution for the fisheries sector policy of the Spanish Government. It is also the scientific and technological representative of Spain in most of the forums and international organizations related to the sea and its resources.

In addition to its nine oceanographic centers and central services in Madrid, IEO has eleven tide gauge stations, an ocean-meteorological buoy, the national oceanographic data centre, five research vessels and five plants of experimentation in marine aquaculture.

One of these aquaculture installations, located in Mazarrón (Murcia, SE Spain) has been recently recognized as a Singular Scientific and Technological Infrastructure for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Aquaculture (http://icar.ieo.es/). Its facilities include: installation for control of bluefin tuna reproduction (ICRA), eggs incubation unit, bluefin tuna larval rearing unit and weaning facility, and fully equipped laboratories. Some of the services offered by this infrastructure include the handling and management of bluefin tuna eggs, the massive production of eggs and living prey for feeding bluefin tuna larvae, development of weaning and preongrowing experiments or formation and training of technicians of bluefin tuna rearing.

IEO also owns an important oceanographic fleet, with five vessels, including the twin ones R/V Ramon Margalef and R/V Angeles Alvariño (length 46 m), equipped with dynamic positioning for corer, grab and ROV operations. Their silent design allows carrying out surveys that involve the use of a wide range of oceanographic techniques; fisheries, physics, chemistry and geology.

R/V Lura (length 14,30m) is a research vessel usually working in coastal oceanographic and ecology works in Galicia waters (NW Spain). Finally, R/V Francisco de Paula Navarro (length 30.46 m) is used in fisheries and oceanographic research surveys all around the Spanish coast, mainly in Mediterranean waters.

The Spanish Institute of Oceanography also has a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), able to operate at 2000m depth, equipped with five submarine cameras and solid, liquid and gas sampling systems, and current meter, among others.

The Santander-Atlantic-Time-Series (SATS) - that includes the AGL buoy data and its oceanographic station - has provided observational evidence of recent conspicuous changes occurred in the mid-latitudes of the Eastern North Atlantic (ENA). The ocean-meteorological AGL Buoy (http://www.boya-agl.st.ieo.es/boya_agl/en/index.php) was deployed in 2007 in the southern Bay of Biscay. The buoy is equipped with meteorological and oceanographic sensors (temperature and salinity, fluorimeter, among others). Data are transmitted every 10 minutes and divulgated by GTS and operational systems to facilitate the access to the data to ocean researchers around the globe. SATS has recently joined Ocean SITES network.

The Spanish Institute of Oceanography maintains and promotes scientific collaboration relations with different institutions of the Spanish Administration, Public Research Organizations, Universities, different institutions of the Autonomous Communities, scientific organizations of other countries and the productive sectors related to fishing and aquaculture, with the purpose of improving cooperation and institutional coordination, to promote marine research and enable the transfer of research results to the productive sectors.

The IEO research activity is structured in three areas: Marine Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture, carrying out basic and applied research in all of them and scientific and technological advice to the different administrations in topics related to oceanography and marine sciences.

A brief summary of the activities of the IEO includes: conducting quality research in oceanography and marine science, representing Spain in international forums related to oceanography and fisheries, studying vulnerable marine ecosystems, developing, coordinating carrying out and managing research programs on fisheries resources, reporting on scientific and technological projects related to marine sciences that are submitted for consultation, studying the seas and continental margins with a multidisciplinary approach, establishing and participating in agreements with public and private organizations, both national and international, carrying out research projects and other scientific and technological activities and participating in international scientific research programs.

The Spanish contribution to the Argo network (http://argo.oceanografia.es) is coordinated from the IEO station in the Canary Islands. Actually there are 20 active Argo profilers in the Atlantic and 5 in the western Mediterranean, that deliver freely available data every ten days from the top 2000 m of the ocean. So far, the Spanish contribution to Argo has carried out more than 10,000 CTD casts, which would have taken 5 years to be sampled from a research vessel. 

Since 1964, IEO has been operating as a National Oceanographic Data Center within the framework of the National Oceanographic Data Centers System (NODCs), supported from the outset by the International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE-IOC / UNESCO). Therefore, it is responsible for the reception, quality control, custody and dissemination of data and metadata from its research vessels and monitoring networks. The IEO Data Center is integrated into different international data networks (e.g. SeaDatanet, EMODNET). As part of its responsibilities, the IEO distributes data and information on the marine environment through different platforms. Currently, the IEO is working on improving its Spatial Data Infrastructure, in order to facilitate access to this information through its own catalog.

Tagoro, the most recently discovered shallow submarine volcano on the Canary Islands Archipelago (Spain), has been monitored by IEO since the beginning of its eruptive phase in October 2011. One of the most interesting findings is that the same volcano which was responsible for the creation of a highly corrosive environment, affecting marine biota, has also provided the nutrients required for the rapid recuperation of the marine ecosystem.

IEO develops an intense work for the dissemination of oceanographic science and the formation of marine and fisheries sciences at all educational levels (Vocational Training, University and Postgraduate). Hundreds of dissemination activities are carried out every year: conferences, exhibitions, open house days, visits to primary and secondary schools, etc.

Recently, IEO has developed a project to enhance the role of women in marine sciences, OCEANICAS: Women and the Oceanography (https://oceanicas.ieo.es/). This project aims to disseminate the work of women scientists dedicated to the study of the oceans, both actual and pioneers, to make known their life and work, trying to generate scientific vocations in girls and boys, foster their creativity, decision making and gender equality from an early age.

Learn more about IEO at their website.

__________________________________________

 

VLIZ, Belgium | May 2019

As a growing centre for marine and coastal research based in Ostend (Belgium), the Flanders Marine Institute ‒ VLIZ ‒ strengthens the knowledge building and excellence of marine research in Flanders and beyond. It promotes and supports Flemish marine scientific research and ocean literacy. In its capacity as a coordination and information platform, VLIZ accumulates and disseminates knowledge to policymakers, educators, the wider public, industry and scientists. In 2019, VLIZ is celebrating its 20th anniversary!

VLIZ has an annual budget of almost 10 million euro. Half the budget comes from the Flemish Government. The remaining financial resources are derived from the Province of West-Flanders, the Flemish Research Foundation FWO (i.e. the VLIZ’ contribution to the ESFRIs LifeWatch, ICOS and EMBRC) and several European grants (mostly DG Mare, Interreg and Horizon 2020). The VLIZ’ research budget amounts to 2.9 million euro.

VLIZ owns a state-of-the-art coastal research vessel ‘RV Simon Stevin’, a RIB ‘Zeekat’ and a wide range of scientific equipment and research infrastructure. The VLIZ Marine Robotics Centre is currently under development at the Marine Station Ostend (MSO) along various existing lab facilities.

RV Simon Stevin (length: 36m, beam: 9.4m, draught: 3.5m) is deployed for multidisciplinary coastal research in the Southern Bight of the North Sea and the eastern part of the English Channel (www.vliz.be/en/rv-simon-stevin). It also serves as a training platform for students and as a testing platform for new technologies. A dynamic positioning system enables a highly accurate navigation. A diesel electric drive unit enables the vessel to sail as a ‘silent ship’. Deployed from the research vessel, the RIB ‘Zeekat’ (length: 6m) is able to take samples in shallow areas and run ashore on tidal sandbanks. It is equipped with a DPGS receiver, a track plotter, an echosounder and a small beam trawl. In addition, the RV Simon Stevin is equipped with all standard sampling equipment as well as sophisticated sonar technology for flow measurements (acoustic current meter) and sea bottom characterisation (multibeam). A wide range of marine scientific equipment and research infrastructure is put at the disposal of the Flemish and international community of marine researchers (www.vliz.be/en/equipment).

The Marine Station Ostend (MSO), located at walking distance from the VLIZ main offices, acts as a satellite laboratory for marine scientists. It is used in the framework of European infrastructure networks (Lifewatch, ICOS, EMBRC) and accommodates many facilities, including a large cold room (100 m²) with seawater tanks, storage and processing space for underwater cultural heritage and various other applications, several labs and a core repository (70m2).


Within the framework of LifeWatch, VLIZ carries out a biotic and abiotic monitoring programme on a number of fixed stations on the Belgian continental shelf. As a part of the ICOS European monitoring network, the RV Simon Stevin and the Thornton measuring buoy are measuring greenhouse gasses. And through the research infrastructure present at the Marine Station Ostend, EMBRC can provide end users from SMEs, academia and industry access to marine biological extractable products.

VLIZ is also a member of the European Research Vessels Operators (ERVO) group, a partner in the H2020 project EUROFLEETS+, and it participates in the annual ‘International Research Ship Operators’ Meeting’ (IRSO). 

In 2019, VLIZ will make a start with the extension of the infrastructure at the Marine Station Ostend. The current lab facilities will be upscaled and technical workspaces for the Marine Robotics Centre (www.vliz.be/en/marine-robotics-centre) will be developed. This will allow the institute to accommodate the ROV and the newly bought AUV and USV.

The central mission of VLIZ research deals with Understanding processes and interactions in changing marine and coastal environments. It focuses on six topics (‘Ocean & Human Health’, ‘Life’s roots & rates’, ‘Understanding & optimizing observations’, ‘Nature changes & solutions’, ‘Seascapes past & future’ and ‘Maritime Society & History’) and is carried out in collaboration with (marine) research groups in Flanders, Belgium or abroad. In addition, VLIZ performs a wide range of data - or infrastructure driven research. VLIZ is currently experiencing a huge growth spurt in terms of research initiated by the institute. This is a major leap forward, after a focus of more than fifteen years (2000-2017) on facilitating research at other institutions. The research division is growing quickly, with many new vacancies and a growing output (33 scientific publications in journals included in the ISI Web of Science in 2018).

The VLIZ datacenter is entitled as a World Data Centre by the International Science Council (ICSU). Recently, it also became an accredited IODE National Oceanographic Data Centre. Two of the systems operationalized by VLIZ played a crucial role in obtaining that IODE accreditation: the Integrated Marine Information System (IMIS) and the Marine Data Archive (MDA). All data systems and services operate within the principles of fair and open data (www.vliz.be/en/data-policy). VLIZ also takes part in projects related to the European Open Science Cloud initiative. One of the core tasks of VLIZ is the development of infrastructures and the promotion of the data flow within and from Flanders to European and international networks. For this purpose, VLIZ has developed various technologies. Over the course of the years, VLIZ has implemented several systems in numerous projects and activities (www.vliz.be/en/datasystems). It manages several taxonomic, biogeographical and trait-related databases. Data entrusted to VLIZ, are archived and ‒ with permission of the data owner ‒ integrated into data systems or translated to data products as to disclose them in an efficient way (www.vliz.be/en/search-datasets). VLIZ provides assistance, technologies and tools to scientists and policy makers to support marine data management. Within the context of international networks, VLIZ participates in the development of infrastructures and promotes the data flow from Belgium. It operates according to a policy based on the IOC data policy and builds on a close relationship of trust with Belgian marine scientists. More information: http://www.vliz.be/en/data-policy.

The VLIZ Library is a public marine scientific information center, boasting a wealth of publications and other information (books, maps, periodicals, articles, reports, theses,…) on the Flemish coast, the North Sea and the world’s ocean and seas. It is the largest collection of marine literature in Flanders, and it can be searched online or consulted on site in the library.

VLIZ Communication is a pioneer and one of the initiators of Ocean Literacy in Europe. In 2012, it organized the First Conference on Ocean Literacy in Europe (Bruges, Belgium) and later on played an important role in advocating for more ocean awareness through various national and international fora. As chair of the European Marine Board Communications Panel (EMBCP), VLIZ inspired a new series of international conferences on marine science communication, and organized the CommOCEAN 2016 conference.

At a national level, VLIZ increases the visibility of marine research by disclosing high-quality marine information in various formats to very diverse target groups (young and old, professionals and the wider public, local and international, education and research). VLIZ reaches out to a large group of interested people through at least 15-20 public events, open house days, exhibitions and/or symposia a year. VLIZ informs the public through its website, various publications and social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram). In addition, VLIZ plays a prominent role in informing teachers and other educators about the sea. It also manages an information desk providing answers to sea-related questions and regularly gives lectures about marine scientific topics to the public at large.

VLIZ Communication is also an active player in the field of marine citizen science. In addition to running the SeaWatch-B citizen science project and organizing a national Beach Shell Survey at the Belgian coast, VLIZ participates in promoting marine citizen science across Europe.

In 2017, VLIZ received a mandate to further develop the interface between marine research on the one hand and the blue economy and innovation on the other hand. Within this context, VLIZ acts as a knowledge broker, conducts an active screening of policy issues regarding the blue economy across all policy areas and links them to marine research. This way, VLIZ provides an innovative transversal consultation model, which is required for an efficient transfer of marine scientific knowledge in the interest of the economic developments at sea.

Learn more about VLIZ at their website.

__________________________________________

  

GeoEcoMar, Romania | April 2019

The National Institute for Research and Development on Marine Geology and GeoecologyGeoEcoMar - is a rather young institute, last year celebrating its 25th birthday. It was founded in 1993 as the Romanian Centre of Marine Geology and Geoecology, under the coordination of the Ministry of Scientific Research. Due to its technical capabilities and scientific performance achieved in a short period of time, the centre has become in 1996 an “institute of national interest”, its main research goal being the complex study of the Danube River-Danube Delta-Black Sea macro-geosystem. Results obtained within the research projects, accomplished in cooperation with Romanian and international partners, led to obtaining the statute of “European Center of Excellence (Euro-EcoGeoCentre Romania)” within the 5th Framework Programme.

Since then, GeoEcoMar has developed continuously, representing nowadays the focal point of national excellence in research and consultancy on marine, coastal, river and lacustrine geology, geophysics and geoecology, as well as a reference centre for Marine and Earth Sciences.

The GeoEcoMar’s infrastructure consists of many laboratories, offices (located either in Bucharest, where the institute headquarters are, or in Constanta), a research fleet (two research vessels and some motorboats), offshore moored observatories, coastal monitoring stations, online GNSS stations and auto facilities.

The main research infrastructure in Bucharest include facilities for geophysics, bathymetry, hydrochemistry, geoarcheology, paleo-oceanography labs, a data center and a conference room (capacity up to 50 people). At the Constanta branch of GeoEcoMar there are four fully equipped laboratories (geochemistry, sedimentology, biology and seismo-acoustics) and a conference room (capacity of up to 30 people). 

GeoEcoMar operates on its own R/V facilities consisting of:

R/V Mare Nigrum – its technical characteristics (displacement of 3,000 t, length of 82 m and width of 13.6 m), accommodation (can host up to 25 scientists) and research facilities (7 laboratories, various scientific equipment) make R/V Mare Nigrum to be considered the largest research vessel operating in the Black Sea.

Onboard equipment

  • Multibeam bathymetric system SEABEAM 1050 Elak Nautik;
  • Seismo - acoustics CHIRP Star Full Spectrum;
  • Magnetometer Geometrics G-87;
  • On-board (GMNKM) and bottom (GDK) gravimeters;
  • ROV (1000 m water deep);
  • Sub-bottom profiler;
  • Side Scan sonar
  • 2D seismics
  • CTD SBE 25 Sealogger with Rosette sampler
  • Gravity corers;
  • Multi-corer Mark II-400;
  • Grab sampler;
  • Nets for biology and microplastics

Onboard labs

  • Sedimentology
  • Hydrology
  • Geophysics
  • Biology
  • Geochemistry
  • Seismo-acoustics
  • Computer room

R/V Istros – main characteristics: displacement of 147.8 t, up to 10 places for scientists, 2 laboratories (chemistry and biology), and multibeam system for shallow waters. Although it is designated mainly for research activities in the Danube River and Danube Delta, it operates in the Romanian coastal waters as well, when necessary (e.g. shallow waters monitoring).

Black Sea Security System (BSSS) - besides the fully equipped laboratories and the research fleet, GeoEcoMar hosts and operates the BSSS. This infrastructure was developed (within the MARINE GEOHAZARD project) as a solution for long-term environmental monitoring and for the prevention/mitigation of the marine geohazards (e.g., earthquakes, active faults, and submarine landslide) which affect the Black Sea coastal area. The BSSS consists of:

  • EUXINUS network, which is an Early Warning System of three offshore observatories (EUXRo01, EUXRo02 and EUXRo03) moored 160 km from the Romanian Black Sea coast (90 m water depth) and a coastal gauge (CG) installed in front of the Mangalia harbour (1.5 km from the seashore) at 15 m water depth.

Each of the offshore observatories consists of three main modules:

  • Surface relay buoy (SRB)-equipped with a weather station; environmental monitoring instrument pack (Doppler current meter, classic CTD sensors, DO, turbidity and chlorophyll sensors);
  • Instrumented mooring line, equipped with Doppler current meter and classic CTD sensors (at  5 m above seafloor)
  • Underwater tsunami module

The coastal gauge is limited to the SRB.

  • GeoPontica network with 13 on-line GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) stations in Romania and Bulgaria, dedicated to the geodynamic surveillance of the coastal area.

Both networks have been operated by the Operational Data Center located in Constanta since June 2013. EUXINUS acts as a valuable tool for early warning of marine geohazards, extreme meteorological events, and collecting long-term environmental data (water current speed and direction, conductivity, temperature, salinity, density, turbidity, pH, fluorescence, sea level, waves, and tides). 

Currently, the data are shared, based on existing bilateral agreements with several Romanian public institutions and authorities (some universities the National and Local Inspectorate for Emergency Situations, Maritime Hydrographic Directorate, etc.) and International Institutions and Consortiums such as: University of Bari, JRC, EMSO, UNESCO-IOC, EMSODEV, etc.

A major concern of GeoEcoMar is the continuous improvement of research infrastructure, particularly the naval infrastructure, offshore facilities and onshore laboratories. To that purpose, the GeoEcoMar scientific board makes major efforts to:

  • acquire new offshore moored observatories and a coastal gauge;
  • develop two new labs in Bucharest (microbiology and microplastics);
  • improve some of the current laboratories by acquiring new equipment.

Its infrastructure and the human resources (26 PhDs and 9 PhD students out of 60 persons with high education involved in the research activities) make GeoEcoMar to be considered one of the most representative R&D institute for the marine research in the Black Sea.  

The main areas of interests in the marine research are:

  • complex knowledge of the Danube-Danube Delta-Black Sea macro-geo-system - (evolution and geological structure, ecosystem structure and function, marine resources, etc.);
  • elaboration of geological, sedimentological and geophysical maps (single and multi-beam batimetry, seismo-acoustic, gravimetry and marine magnetometry);
  • climate changes impact on the marine ecosystem;
  • natural and anthropogenic variability of the Black Sea ecosystem;
  • study and monitoring of natural hazards in the marine field;
  • development of modern research techniques and technologies.

GeoEcoMar has always been involved, either as coordinator or as partner in many significant marine environment projects funded by the 5th, 6th and 7th Framework Programmes of the EU (e.g. FP6 – SESAME, FP7 – PERSEUS, HYPOX, COCONET), RO-BG CBC program (MARINE GEOHAZARD, HERAS), Horizon 2020 (DANUBIUS-PP, Sust-Black), etc. Besides the European programs, GeoEcoMar has been involved in many national projects (generally funded by the Ministry of Research and Innovation) and marine environment related contracts with authorities and economic operators.

Recently, one of the major priority of GeoEcoMar has become the development of the pan-European distributed research infrastructure (DANUBIUS-RI). For that purpose, GeoEcoMar is leading the H2020 support project, DANUBIUS-Preparatory Phase and has a major role in developing the strategy and actions for national participation in DANUBIUS-RI (national project DANS).

The results of the GeoecoMar’s scientists research are disseminated in either many prestigious peer-reviewed international (24 papers in 2018) or national journals. Since 1996, GeoEcoMar has been publishing a peer-reviewed yearly journal, Geo-Eco-Marina.

A very important field of the GeoEcoMar’s activities is to disseminate knowledge to general public. Within the framework of different projects, GeoEcoMar has organized both in Bucharest and Constanta different workshops, public events for marine stakeholders, summer schools and thematic excursions. Generally, these events are popularized on the institute website (www.geoecomar.ro) and in social media.  

GeoEcoMar also provides specialty services and consultancy to economic operators, mainly in offshore oil-gas (OMV PETROM, Exxon Mobile, etc), aquaculture and hydrotechnical works fields.

Based on different agreements signed with some universities from Romania and abroad, GeoEoMar provides to the students many opportunities to conduct their research under the guidance of experienced supervisors. The students have the chance to carry out their studies in a friendly work environment, benefiting from the necessary tools and facilities provided by the institute. GeoEcoMar is also involved in a very important educational national program “A different kind of Education”, which is dedicated to primary and secondary school students. Every year, young student groups visit the R/V Mare Nigrum and laboratories and participate to interactive discussions led by the young researchers of GeoEcoMar.

Learn more about GeoEcoMar at their website.

__________________________________________

 

FCT, Portugal | March 2019

Supporting Portugal’s Science and Research

Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia – FCT - is the Portuguese national funding agency for science and research. FCT is a publicly-funded government agency, under the responsibility of the Ministry for Science, Technology and Higher Education, and it is based in Lisbon.

FCT’s vision focus on:

  • Establishing Portugal as a global reference in science, technology and innovation; and
  • Ensuring that the knowledge generated by the Portuguese research is widely used for economic growth and the well-being of all citizens.

FCT provides funding and support across all fields of knowledge and the whole spectrum of Portugal’s science. In 2018, FCT invested more than 438 million euros in science and technology, distributed as follows:

 

FCT investment in science and technology in 2018

In terms of budget sources, FCT’s investment in 2018 came from:

  • 311 million national budget
  • 119 million European Commission
  • 7 million other

The FCT international sphere

FCT’s International Relations Department is in charge of the internationalization of the National Scientific and Technological System. Its action is oriented towards the promotion of the Portuguese science in the European Research Area (ERA), including Initiatives under Article 185 of the Lisbon Treaty, such as the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership, the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area or the Joint Programming Initiatives. In that regard, FCT has participated in several European Research Area networks (ERA-NETs), Coordination and Support Actions (CSAs), European Joint Programmes (EJPs), INCONets, namely Sub-Saharian Africa, Latin America and Caribbean, and Mediterranean. For Horizon 2020, Portugal has secured 1.6% of available funding.FCT have been involved in several ERA projects within the marine sphere:

  • OCEANERA-NET COFUND: Ocean Energy ERA-NET Cofund - Supporting Collaborative Innovation in the Ocean Energy Sector: FCT is going to be in the Secretariat for the joint transnational call 2019
  • ERA-NET Cofund MarTERA: Maritime and Marine Technologies for a new Era. FCT was part of the Secretariat the joint transnational call 2016/17
  • Eurofleets
  • SEAS-ERA (Sea Sciences) 

FCT  represents Portugal in several Multilateral Programmes and Scientific Networks dedicated to transnational cooperation (COST, CYTED), supports and follows the participation of the scientific and technological community in the international organizations of which Portugal is a member (including OECD, UNESCO, ESA, CERN, among others). FCT’s therefore plays a key role in the international research funding panorama by contributing to the effective articulation among those various organisations.

FCT promotes bilateral cooperation with over 70  countries  through institutional agreements. Examples include  the agreements  with the Ismaili Imamat,  La Caixa Foundation or international partnerships with academic/researchers institutions such as MIT-Portugal, Carnegie-Mellon Portugal, UT-Austin Portugal.  

FCT also ensures the Portuguese representation in the European Strategic Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) and participates in the governing bodies of EMSO ERIC (European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and water-column Observatory) and EMBRC ERIC (European Marine Biological Resource Centre).

    

Building bridges over the whole Atlantic

In 2016 and 2017 FCT supported the initial development of the intergovernmental initiative Atlantic Interactions, to unleash the potential of the Atlantic for Society and the creation of the Atlantic International Research (AIR) Centre. This initiative fosters knowledge-driven solutions for Atlantic and Global Societal challenges that require interdisciplinary research and innovation of complex Earth systems through cooperation targeting the Atlantic. At national level led by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, FCT is currently supporting the initiative through disseminating and promoting meetings and workshops and opening calls for exploratory projects, taking into account that the ambition of the AIR Centre is to be a long-term platform for North-South, South-North, East-West and West-East collaboration in the Atlantic towards a holistic, integrative and systemic approach to knowledge on space, oceans, climate change impacts, energy and data sciences, while fostering an inclusive perspective to science, technology and economic development.

 

Since 2016, FCT carries on three thematic programmes: Polar, Space and Ocean, clearing showing the interest of the Portuguese Ministry for Science, Technology and Higher Education in these research and technological areas.

Ocean affairs at FCT – The Ocean Programme

The Ocean Programme (OP) coordinates the involvement of FCT in initiatives linked to the ocean. Its mission is to maximize the dialogue among stakeholders and coordinate ocean related activities at national and international level where FCT participates.

The OP analyses and explores the benefits for the national participation in International Programmes, instruments, and other collaborative initiatives in oceans related matters, considering the benefits for the Portuguese community.

OP represents FCT or Portugal in international organisations and processes. The first example to be given is EurOcean, as FCT is one of its founding members and its secretariat is located in FCT’s building. OP, on behalf of FCT, is also a member of the European Marine Board (EMB), the IODP International Ocean Discovery Programmme / ECORD European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (IODP/ECORD), the Joint Programming Initiative Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans (JPI Oceans) and the OECD Ocean Economy Group. OP also acts as FCT’s contact point for Ocean affairs towards the AIR Centre.

OP follows FCT participation in other Marine & Maritime European Instruments such as ERANETs and CSAs, aiming to improve the coordination of national marine and maritime programmes in the European Research Area and to improve science diplomacy.

In scope of its participation at JPI Oceans, FCT has integrated ERA-NET Cofunds such as MarTERA and Blue Bioconomy, and launched two transitional calls for microplastics studies and two transnational calls for deep-sea studies.

The AANChOR CSA, on the coordination of marine research and innovation activities in the Atlantic Ocean, and with the ambition of promoting the implementation of the Belém Statement, is coordinated by the OP, which also leads the workpackage on legacy. AANChOR will be responsible for launching a multi-stakeholder platform to identify collaborative activities, building on national and international ongoing initiatives and addressing activities aimed at reinforcing capacity building, promoting academia-industry knowledge transfer for an enhanced ocean innovation, developing common standards, enhancing citizen awareness and ocean literacy and converging and aligning R&I infrastructure initiatives. 

At national level, FCT’s OP establishes synergies with entities with competences in Ocean related themes. As the national contact point for all FCT’s ocean related matters, OP works closely with the institutions depending from the Ministry of the Sea, namely with the Directorate General for Maritime Policy on the SEAMInd project (identify and adopt relevant indicators to check results under the Portuguese ocean strategy) or the OECD Ocean Economy projecton “Fostering Innovation in the Ocean Economy: Promoting sustainable seas and oceans with innovation”.

OP also works with the Directorate General for Foreign Policy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, namely in processes related to the United Nations, such as the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects, where OP secures a national focal point for the second cycle (WOA-II), supporting the involvement of Portuguese marine experts in the Pool of Experts of the Regular Process, and the process related to the international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ Process).

OP is also connected to the Portuguese Committee for the Intergovernamental Oceanographic Commission as its member for science and technology.

OP has been coordinating the development of the national Thematic Research & Innovation Agenda for Ocean Issues.

__________________________________________

 

FRCT, Azores, Portugal | January 2019

Bridging the Azores Research & Innovation to the World 

The Regional Fund for Science and Technology (FRCT) is a public Portuguese body acting under the Regional Secretariat for the Sea, Science and Technology of the Regional Government of the Azores. FRCT´s mission is to promote the Science and Technology System of the Azores (SCTA) R&D+I, through the following actions:

  • Research Grants & Fellowships Funding
  • R&D+I Programmes, Projects & Networks
  • Promote & Support the Azores Scientific and Technological System (SCTA)

FRCT’s multidisciplinary team has 15 members who work together to accomplish the best for the Azores Region.

FRCT supports the Azorean scientific community through advanced training scholarships in Science and Technology.  Its main goal is to strengthen and promote specialized scientific qualification and thus increase the Research and Innovation (R&I) excellence in the Azores region.

Since 2012, FRCT has launched five competitive calls for research grants and fellowships in the scope of relevant R & I areas in the Azores, resulting in an investment of more than €6M. For more detailed information on such calls, please consult the report FRCT Grants & Fellowship Report  (2012-2018).

 

Driven by the Azores Plan for the Internationalization of Science and Technology, FRCT aims to strengthen the scientific and technological potential of the Azores and encourage the creation of transregional and international synergies to link the islands with the international research agenda.

Solid Coordination Experience at the EU Level

FRCT has been participating in external funding programmes to develop and implement the S&T policies in the RAA, including the R&I of the SCTA teams in European and transregional programmes such as Horizon 2020, Calls for proposals and Tenders, INTERREG MAC, INTERREG Atlantic Area, Erasmus+, etc.

The participation of FRCT in various projects, either as a partner or as coordinator, has been on the increase over the years. FRCT's R&I areas of action have also been expanding and diversifying, keeping the focus on the RIS3 (Research & Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialization) key areas in the Azores: Fishing and the Sea, Agriculture,  Livestock and Agroindustry, and Tourism.

FRCT has participated in 27 project consortiums from eight different funding programmes giving FRCT a vast experience and networking skills within the European R&I area. Our goal is to keep growing, facilitating and furthering the participation of SCTA entities in the programmes in an autonomous way.

 

FRCT has significant experience as a Project Coordinator, especifically in initiatives funded by the European Commission under the scope of the DG Environment, EMFF and EASME. This work has been recognised with 2nd Atlantic Award Winner by Support Team for the Atlantic Action Plan which was awarded to FRCT for the work done on MISTIC SEAS II.

Currently,  FRCT coordinates:

  • MISTIC SEAS II - "Implementation of a coherent and coordinated sub regional approach to monitoring and evaluation of marine biodiversity in Macaronesia for the second cycle of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive MSFD" (2017-2019)
  • MarSP – Macaronesian Maritime Spatial Planning (2018- 2020)
  • MOVE- Facilitating MAES to support regional policy in Overseas Europe: mobilizing stakeholders and pooling resources (2018-2021) project

It is also involved in the following projects:

See FRCT’s full projects portfolio here.

The Azores are an outermost region as a result of being surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. This key characteristic means that FRCT regularly participates in marine related projects in diverse areas such as ocean observation, marine biotechnology, marine debris and aquaculture, among others.

FRCT is also part of relevant clusters and network platforms, such as EurOcean, NEREUS (Network of European regions using space technologies), ECSA (European Citizen Science Association) and C3M (Macaronesia Marine and Maritime Clusters).

__________________________________________

 

IOPAN, Poland | December 2018

Baltic Excellence

The Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences is located in Sopot, Poland and currently, it is the largest marine-oriented research institute in the country. The mission of IOPAN is to seek, understand, and communicate the scientific understanding of the marine environment and the issues related to its protection and sustainable use. The IOPAN scientists and engineers achieve this by carrying out innovative, high-level scientific and technological research that further enhances our understanding of the environment, and provides expertise and new technologies which are then shared with interested parties from the public and private sector. The IOPAN conducts scientific research in the Baltic Sea and in the seas of the European Arctic. The main areas of the IOPAN’s research include:

  • The role of the oceans in climate change and its effects on European seas
  • Natural and anthropogenic variability of the Baltic Sea environment
  • Contemporary changes in the coastal ecosystems of shelf seas
  • Genetic and physiological mechanisms of the functioning of marine organisms; the principles/basics of marine biotechnology

The IOPAN has the right to confer doctoral degrees (since 1993) and associate professor degrees (since 2000) in Earth Sciences (Oceanology). As a result of the Institute’s excellence in science, as of 2018, for the following four years, the Institute has been awarded the highest scientific rank in Poland, the A+ category.

Studying The Nordic Seas For More Than Half A Century

The IOPAN is the successor to the Marine Station, established in Sopot in 1951 by the scientists from Department of Maritime Construction and Ports of the Gdansk University of Technology, which was transferred to the Polish Academy of Sciences in 1953. Three years later, the Sopot Marine Station was incorporated into the Department of Geophysics of the Polish Academy of Sciences, located in Warsaw. In 1971 the Department of Geophysics became the Institute of Geophysics PAN, and the Marine Station rose to the status of the Department of Oceanology of that Institute.

By the end of 1975 the Department of Oceanology in Sopot met the required criteria of sufficient human resources and finances of an independent scientific institution. Thus, in January 1976, the Department was separated from its parent institute and raised to the rank of an independent Department of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences based in Sopot. As a consequence of further development of the Department’s scientific potential, the Presidium of the Polish Academy of Sciences proposed and the Council of Ministers decided, on 23 December 1983, to call into existence the Institute of Oceanology Polish Academy of Sciences, based in Sopot.

Over 6600 Days At Sea

The IOPAN’s research infrastructure consists of a modern complex of high quality buildings with a total floor area of 5,100 m2. The facilities include a large, modern equipped conference hall (capacity for circa 150 people), three small conference rooms, fully equipped laboratories, including clean-rooms, culturing rooms, an isotope room, among others, as well as the mechanical workshop, which over the years has produced many custom-made tools and instruments invaluable to the laboratory work at the IOPAN and onboard of it research vessel.

An extremely important event in the IOPAN’s history took place in 1985 with the launching of the research vessel RV Oceania, built by the Gdansk Shipyard. In the summer of 1987, Oceania set off on a voyage to the Nordic seas (the Norwegian, Barents and Greenland Seas), initiating a series of annual IOPAN research projects carried out in the Arctic that have continued ever since. RV Oceania is at sea, on average, for over 200 days every year, including around 80 days in the Nordic Seas and the Spitsbergen region (June to August) and calling at 20 foreign ports and covering some 10,000 Nm.

RV Oceania is the only Polish research vessel adapted for a wide range of oceanographic research activities in physics, chemistry, ecology and marine biology in waters all round the world. She is equipped with modern laboratories, state-of-the-art instruments, and the means to perform oceanographic measurements down to a depth of 5,000 m.

RV Oceania Technical Data

  • Owner: Polish Academy of Sciences, Institute of Oceanology
  • Harbour: Gdansk
  • Call sign: SQOC
  • Dimensions: 48.9 m / 9.0 m / 3.9 m
  • Displacement: 370 T
  • Main engine: Diesel, 600 kW MTU
  • Bow thruster: 70 HP
  • Generator: 110 kW
  • Masts: 3, each 32 m high
  • Sails: 280 m2, electric setting
  • Cruising speed: 9 knots
  • Maximum speed: 12 knots
  • Crew: 13
  • Scientists: 14
  • Endurance: 1 month
  • Range: unlimited (except polar area in winter)

Contributing to Expand Europe's Knowledge on the Ocean

The IOPAN has always been an important and active partner in significant marine environment projects funded by the 5th, 6th and 7th Framework Programmes of the EU. The Institute is a representative of the Polish Academy of Sciences in the Marine Board of the European Science Foundation, in three international marine excellence networks: EurOcean, MARBEF and Marine Genomics Europe, merged in 2012 into the EuroMarine and a number of other initiatives.

The IOPAN has a great deal of experience in international project coordination, including eight projects within the framework of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism and the Polish-Norwegian Research Fund. Currently, the IOPAN is actively involved - as a partner or a lead partner - in international scientific cooperation activities performed under various programmes, such as BONUS 185, Horizon 2020, and bilateral contracts with institutions in the United States of America and Canada.

The IO PAN is a national oceanographic data centre and thus our data base system includes the following sets:

  • Marine Ecology Database
  • Atlas of Arctic
  • Physics Database
  • Numerical Model Database
  • CTD Data base

The IOPAN participates in the educational process throughout running a PhD program as well as many educational activities for general public, with a special focus on young learners. The goal of the IOPAN’s PhD program on Natural Sciences in the field of Oceanology is to educate a highly qualified young scientific team capable of solving research problems independently.

The PhD program provides high quality doctoral education, access to excellent technical facilities, administrative support and individual scientific guidance leading to an internationally recognized PhD i. Its philosophy is to provide to the students the chance to fully implement their research plans under the guidance of an experienced scientific supervisor as a member of a world-class research team. Apart from encouraging our students’ scientific development we help them build a wide network of contacts in the national and international scientific community. IOPAN’s students will find themselves working in an exceptionally creative and friendly work environment, as it is a top priority for the IOPAN staff to provide our young scientists with the necessary tools and facilities required for them to carry out their research plans. We offer the unique possibility of participating in marine research activities conducted onboard the RV Oceania.

Since 1971, the IOPAN has been publishing a peer-reviewed quarterly journal, Oceanologia, which covers original research results in marine physics, dynamics, optics, chemistry, biology, ecology, geology and genetics. Oceanologia, currently within the Elsevier group, is a journal listed in ISI Science Citation Index Expanded and its Impact Factor for 2017 is 1.614 and 5-Year Impact Factor - 1.585 (Journal Citation Reports® 2017).

A very important field of the IOPAN’s activities is to disseminate knowledge to general public. Therefore, the Institute organizes or takes part in numerous initiatives, including traditional science outreach events and programmes, scientific exhibitions, lectures and presentations focusing on work at sea, science festivals, participation in educational programs and throughout the support for the Sopot Science Association. 

Photos by Agata Weydmann, Kajetan Deja, Piotr Balazy, Stanislaw Weslawski, Tomasz Jankowski, Jerzy Dabrowski.

Learn more about IOPAN at their website.

__________________________________________

 

CNR, Italy | November 2018

The National Research Council (CNR) is the largest public research institution in Italy. Part of the Italian Ministry of Research, it performs multidisciplinary research in partnership with various national and international universities, research centres and private companies. CNR promotes innovation and competitiveness of the Italian industrial system, enhances the internationalization of the Italian research system, provides technologies and solutions to emerging public and private needs, advices the government and other public bodies, and contributes to enhancing the skills of its human resources.

Over 3600 Days At Sea

During the last decade, CNR Marine Scientific Networks conducted scientific cruises totalling 3600 days at sea. These cruises conducted on-board the research vessels G. Dallaporta, Urania, Maria Grazia and Minerva Uno, saw the completion of the huge amount of surveys, from bathymetric surveys to maintenance operations. The scientific value of these activities can be summarized in the projects funded with a total contribution of about 5 Milion euro.

CNR research vessels were not limited in their use to the institute's researchers. Scientific cruises from Italian and international universities, public and private research institutions were also hosted in the context of various scientific collaborations. Also, intensive training activities were conducted, involving more than 1300 students. CNR's scientific cruise programme for 2018 is available here.

CNR operates the R.V. G. Dallaporta, built in 2001 and 35 meters long. It is equipped with state-of-the-art scientific and bridge on-board instrumentation, mainly for the study of maritime fishing and marine environment conditions. It can accommodate up to 8 crew members and 12 researchers.

CNR operates the R.V. G. Dallaporta, built in 2001 and 35 meters long. It is equipped with state-of-the-art scientific and bridge on-board instrumentation, mainly for the study of maritime fishing and marine environmental conditions. It can accommodate up to 8 crew members and 12 researchers. 

Some local units of the CNR marine research institutes manage smaller local/coastal research vessels, that generally carry out research close to their home ports in the Mediterranean Sea:

  • RV Boreana - 10.00 m    long
  • RV Cerruti - 14.50 m long
  • RV Furetto - 10.00 m
  • RV Litus - 10.20 m
  • RV Luigi Sanzo - 15.00 m
  • RV Tecnopesca II - 16.30 m

An Observation Network in the Mediterranean

The Italian Fixed-Point Observatory Network (IFON) integrates well-established coastal and ocean infrastructures (buoys, platforms, moorings, mast platforms, etc.), most of them providing real-time multidisciplinary monitoring for a number of marine and atmospheric variables.

One of the goals of the Italian Flagship Project Ricerca Italiana per il mare (RITMARE) is to create a common, validated IFON database able to fulfil both public and private demands, including validation of remotely sensed data and numerical models, environmental planning and management, and time-series analysis of climate and oceanographic data. IFON includes:

  • Acqua Alta Oceanographic Tower
  • Location (GPS): 45° 18' 51.29" N - 12° 30' 29.69" E
  • Height: actual 12.55 m s.l.m.m. (future 14.55 m s.l.m.m.)
  • Decks surface (within the main pillars): 35 m2
  • Installation depth: 16 m
  • Distance from the coast: about 8 nautical miles
  • Housing facilities: 5 people in complete autonomy for about 1 month
  • Research connections: LTER - Long Term Ecological Research Network
  • Equipment: Real time transmission and communication capabilities; ICT infrastructures; Biological laboratories; Housing facilities; Electrical supply by photovoltaic panels and wind turbines connected to lithium batteries and diesel generators.
  • Recorded time-series: meteo (air temperature and pressure, wind speed, gust and direction, RH, precipitation); ocean (pCO2, temperature, salinity, dissolved Oxygen, fluorescence, turbidity, current speed and direction, sea level height, wave height, period and direction, images)

CNR is committed to the dissemination of the research activities within the scientific community and the general public, as demonstrated by the publication of the measured data in an open data perspective and by the release of the smartphone application Ismar-Data.

The tower is equipped with several webcams that can be accessed through this link.

The project also provides access to a 39-years monitoring programme on directional wave data.

An Open Sea Laboratory

The W1-M3A observing system is one of the most important infrastructures of CNR and it is part of the network of deep ocean European observatories. The open sea laboratory is moored in the middle of the Ligurian Sea, inside the area known as the Cetaceans' Sanctuary on the route between Genoa and Cape Corse, about 80 Km off the coast of Liguria where the water depth is about 1200 m.

The W1-M3A observing system is composed by two sub-systems, a large spar buoy (known as Oceanographic Data Acquisition System - ODAS - Italia 1, is 51 meter long and weights 12 tons) and a sub-surface mooring acquiring data from the ocean interior under the buoy and communicating with the main buoy by means of an acoustic link. The ODAS Italia 1 buoy represents the only example in Europe and one of the few in the world of a spar meteo-oceanographic buoy. The payload of the W1M3A observing system provides:

  • near real-time atmospheric data and bio-geochemical measurements in the euphotic zone (0-100m)
  • physical data from the upper thermocline (0-500m) down to the sea bed.

To access the data obtained by W1M3A please click here

A Wide Range of On-Land Facilities

Along the many research facilities that CNR owns within Italy, there are several fully equipped to support various research activities related to marine sciences, including:

Ready To Go Below Sea Level 

The glider Teresa is an autonomous underwater vehicle, able to operate along vertical sections to monitor the water column up to 1000 m depth. Equipped with a CTD probe and fine structure sensors, it moves through the water column recording hydrological properties and turbulence measurements through continuous cycles of immersion-emersion. Its vertical movement is particularly favorable for turbulence measurements, obtained with both fast-response shear probes rather than thermistors. Part of the data are transmitted via satellite to data centre when the glider comes to the surface for positioning.

 CNR's ISSIA Marine Robotic Lab studies and develops heterogeneous cooperative aerial, surface and underwater robots for marine and maritime applications. Current research topics include:

  • cooperative navigation, guidance and control
  • cooperative mission control
  • modeling & identification of underwater robots
  • automatic characterisation of the operating environment
  • design of innovative marine robotic platforms

  1. Contributing to Expand Europe's Knowledge on the Ocean

In its nearly one hundred years of existence, CNR has coordinated and supported countless marine research initiatives focusing on marine areas way beyond the Mediterranean Sea surrounding Italy. Here are some examples of ongoing projects: 

BLUEMED - Coordination and Support Action for the coordination of marine and maritime research and innovation activities in the Mediterranean

CEASELESS - Copernicus Evolution and Applications with Sentinel Enhancements and Land Effluents for Shores and Seas

DANUBIUS-PP - Preparatory phase for the pan-european research infrastructure Danubius–RI “the international centre for advanced studies on river-sea systems — Danubius-PP

EVER-EST - European Virtual Environment for Research - Earth Science Themes: a solution 

3Ccar - Integrated Components for Complexity Control in affordable electrified cars 

JERICO - NEXT - Joint European Research Infrastructure network for Coastal Observatory – Novel European eXpertise for coastal observaTories 

SLATE - Submarine LAndslides and Their impact on European continental margins 

MUSES - Multi Use in European Seas 

DUPLEXWASTE Duplex Stainless Steel for Urban and Industrial Waste Water

CLAIM - Cleaning Litter by developing and Applying Innovative Methods in European seas

TARTALIFE - Reduction in mortality of sea turtles in professional fishing

EFFICIENTSHIP - Demonstration of an innovative ORC module to improve the efficiency of European fishing vessels

MARINET2 - Marine Renewables Infrastructure Network for emerging Energy Technologie)

CNR also established a Memorandum of Understanding with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Supporting Open Access

CNR has a structured data collection network operating in real-time on the Italian seas. Also, CNR manages or collaborates in different prediction systems of the sea and wind condition. These forecasting systems, available online and providing real-time data, are used not only for transportation and fishing navigation, but also during sailing race events and other sports and recreational events.

To learn more about the CNR units that currently have open access programmes please click here.

CNR is committed to convert the outcomes of its research into information, services and products that serve to bring science closer to society. Here are some examples of recent initiatives:

Less Plastic, More Mediterranean

  1. In 2017, CNR took part in a campaign on-board the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior. The initiative resulted in a report about microplastics in seawater and the trophic chain along the Italian Coast, which can be found here.

Prospecting Ocean

Coinciding with the launch of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia: TBA21–Academy, CNR presented an investigative exhibition by the filmmaker and photographer Armin Linke exploring contemporary challenges facing our oceans. Drawing upon rare footage of the deep-sea and interviews with leading scientists, policymakers, and legal experts, the exhibition scrutinized the aesthetics of technoscientific apparatuses and grapples with the tension between ecological protection of our oceans and political and economic exploitation.

Learn more about CNR at their website.

1

EurOcean currently has thirteen members in ten different countries and four cooperating members

2