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Data & Dissemination

Future Perspectives of FerryBoxes

The following excerpt from a white paper that is presented at the OceanObs 09 in Venice gives an overview on the perspectives and challenges for FerryBoxes in future European observing systems.

The way forward in developing and integrating FerryBox technologies

Author list:
D J. Hydes1, F. Colijn2, W. Petersen2, F. Schroeder2 D.K. Mills3, D. Durand4
1.  National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK (
2.  GKSS, Geesthacht, Germany
3.  CEFAS, Lowestoft, UK
4.  NIVA, Bergen Norway

The EU project FerryBox (2002-2005) amply demonstrated they can provide oceanographic data in a highly cost effective manner over a wide range of time and space scales. In Europe FerryBox output is now an integral part of the vision (EMODNET European Marine Observation and Data Network) for the gathering of data streams together into a pan European system for assimilating data in to the marine management cycle. Practically is this beginning to evolve through systems such as EMECO (European Marine Ecosystem Observatory) which will link national system such as COSYNA (Coastal Observation System for Northern and Arctic Seas). This will enhance the provision of much needed data to reduce the degree of aliasing that can be present in the small data sets that have previously been used in assessments such as the OSPAR Common Procedure looking at for example eutrophication..
The FerryBox concept is already in use globally in Australia, Japan and the USA for example. It has considerable potential for expansion particularly for the study of inputs from the world’s major riverine in puts such as the Amazon and those flowing into the China Seas. This aspect of the work should be strongly encouraged. Similarly it has the potential to provide key information on changing levels of productivity helping fisheries science in many areas of the world.
In the next decade the success that is being achieved in the measurement of fluxes of carbon dioxide over the North Atlantic in particular using ships of opportunity should be expanded to include increased study of coastal and shelf regions. The FerryBox concept provides reliable and cheap platforms for making integrated sets of measurements. This particularly important in shelf seas where measurements of the carbonate system must be made along with other chemical, biological and physical measurements that allow changes in CO2 flux and acidification to be related to forcings which are more local in nature than in ocean waters.
To provide FerryBoxes with this needed expansion in capacity, work is needed to improve the reliability and robustness some existing systems that are already being used for example for nutrients, pCO2 and pH and to expand areas which have been trialed such as the use of ADCPs and automated shipboard plankton zooplankton assessment devices.

Examples of integrated monitoring EMODNET, EMECO and COSYNA
The value of this integrated approach required by OSPAR and other authorities is beginning to be recognised. Concerted efforts are underway to expand the approach to ensure that the benefits that can be achieved are fully realised. An objective of the EU's new maritime policy is to integrate existing, but fragmented initiatives in order to facilitate access to primary data for public authorities, maritime services, related industries and researchers. Marine related data are available from many sources but assembling them for particular applications takes considerable effort and there is no overall policy for keeping them for posterity. The EU Commission therefore set up EMODNET (European Marine Observation and Data Network) to open up opportunities for high technology commercial companies in the maritime sector to improve the efficiency of activities such as marine observation, management of marine resources and marine research in European laboratories. The EMODNET vision is for an end-to-end, integrated and inter-operable network of European marine observations, data communications, management and delivery systems, supported by comprehensive user-oriented toolkits.
In practice these ideas are being realised by practical and more local initiatives such as the EMECO (European Marine Ecosystem Observatory) which are actually (rather than talking about it) setting about providing a framework and the tools to integrate data sources from different agencies, using different platforms (ships, buoys, satellites) from different countries. The building blocks of EMECO include national marine monitoring programmes, regional marine and coastal observatories (e.g. COSYNA Coastal Observation System for Northern and Arctic Seas), FerryBox routes, buoy networks and satellite remote sensing. This will provide integrated information products via web interfaces that will form part of the evidence base to underpin regional scale assessments of eutrophication and in the future of ecosystem health. EMECO and COSYNA will also help to meet the new challenges posed by the new European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and the implicit need to deliver an ecosystem approach.  The MSFD requires a wide range of marine scientific evidence to support the ecosystem approach. The evidence required will be cross-boundary and be based on observations from physics to fish over wide time and space scales. Delivery of an ecosystem approach at basin scale can only be done through collaboration and coordination of effort between agencies and countries.
The delivery the data for assessments will be on a broader scale than that prescribed in the OSPAR Common Procedure. This will be achieved by providing information on other parameters such as the ambient oxygen concentrations, changes in the phytoplankton composition, availability of food for higher trophic levels. The processes being observed do not recognise national boundaries so that a major improvement in knowledge will be achieved when initiatives from different countries are linked allowing a basin wide approach to be undertaken. 

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