An understanding of the seabed and characteristics of European shelf seas has been the focus of institutions and marine laboratories in Europe over several decades. Studies on submarine processes have been undertaken during nationally funded research programs or within the various EU Framework Programmes and European Community initiatives. Whilst information on seabed characteristics exists for local and regional areas, these data can be considered relatively heterogenous e.g. various seabed substrate classifications and seabed sediment lithologies exist however no standard geographical extent, map scales or projections are used.
A team of marine geoscientists in the Marine and Geophysics Programme at the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) is currently engaged in working with geological surveys and research institutes across Europe to bring together web-accessible, interoperable marine geological and hydrographic datasets. The GSI has an integral role in contributing to these projects in terms of data and expertise acquired in the delivery of Ireland’s national seabed mapping programme INFOMAR.
The European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) has identified an overarching requirement for a European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODNET). The Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) along with the geological surveys and research institutes from several European countries is a project partner in EMODNET, the objective of which is to assemble previously fragmented marine datasets and improve the availability of high quality data. EMODNET is providing data on scales defined by the regions and subregions of the MSFD and comprises four lots Lot 1 - Hydrographic data, Lot 2 - Marine geological data, Lot 3 - Chemical data and Lot 4 - Biological data and the GSI is a project partner in Lots 1 and 2.
EMODNET - Geology is a three year project coordinated by the National Environmental Research Council and the British Geological Survey. The project aims to collate information held by the 14 project partners (the national geological surveys of the countries) and additional datasets that are publicly available which are being used to bring together a web-accessible, interoperable geological spatial dataset for the marine sub-regions outline in the figure below. The outputs of the project will be delivered online through the
Figure 1. Marine regions and Sub-Regions as defined by the Marine Strategy Framework Directive
The project is being implemented through 11 work packages, each led by organisations with experience in the specific fields. The GSI is the lead partner on the Minerals work package which has the objective of identifying and mapping areas of minerals (including aggregates, oil, gas and metalliferous minerals) in each of the partner countries based on information available, including publicly-available information (e.g. published scientific papers etc).
Data layers will be compiled in a Geographic Information System (GIS) and delivered through the OneGeology-Europe web portal. These and the data deliverables associated with the other work packages will ensure progress towards Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE) compliancy – allowing data users across Europe to discover, view and download marine geoscience datasets.
The geological map data is served on a national basis by individual geological surveys to a web portal and as such will be frequently updated and improved by them and reflect the most up to date data they possess.
The geoportal is composed by two main components presented as distinct tabs: the discovery part (“search” tab) and the view and query part (“map viewer” tab - as shown in the image above).
The “Search” tab includes the “Metadata catalog”: a multilingual search engine request of the metadata catalogue.
The “Map Viewer” tab offers the usual options (zoom in, zoom out, drag/drop, management of the datasets displayed, view the scale ...).
The purpose of EMODNET - Hydrography is to develop an online portal which will provide access to hydrographic data for a number of sea regions in Europe. Data users have the opportunity to discover, download and further analyse a range of datasets including; water depth in gridded form over whole of maritime basin on a grid of at least quarter a minute of longitude and latitude; water depth in vector form with isobaths at a scale of at least one to one million; depth profiles along tracklines; coastlines and underwater features - wrecks, seabed obstructions etc.
The EMODNET - Hydrography portal provides provides hydrographic data for the area specified by the EMODNET project. This covers the Celtic Seas, North Sea, Kattegat, English Channel, Bay of Biscay, Iberian Coast, West and Central Mediterranean, Adriatic Sea, Ionian Sea, Aegean Sea, Levantine Sea. The data is provided in a quarter-minute grid, so data points are roughly half a kilometre apart.
GSI role has an important role in collating and formatting Irish offshore data acquired under the INFOMAR programme for incorporation to the EMODNET - Hydrographic portal.
The hydrographic data can be downloaded in different formats which include: x,y,z ascii, csv, SD from Fledermaus, ESRI ascii, Geotiff and netCDF. Apart from downloading hydrographic data the portal provides information regarding point depth, transects and metadata of the underlying surveys.
The hydrographic data is based on survey data and compiled digital terrain models of hydrographic organizations and research institutes . There are small areas that are not covered by these surveys or compiled DTM's. These areas have been filled with the data available from GEBCO.
Data users can download the metadata associated with these datasets via a common data index metadata service.
The Geo-Seas project is implementing an e-infrastructure of 26 marine geological and geophysical data centres, located in 17 European maritime countries and comprising 30 organisations across Europe.
Users will be able to identify, locate and access pan-European, harmonised and federated marine geological and geophysical datasets and derived data products held by the data centres through a single common data portal.
The project aims to expand the existing SeaDataNet infrastructure to include marine geological and geophysical data held by the Geo-Seas partners. Catalogues of data, data products and services available from the Geo-Seas data centres will be published and maintained. Quality standards and data exchange/delivery formats will be harmonised across the partners. The project will facilitate access to federated, marine geological and geophysical datasets and deliver the data via the internet.
The Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) is involved in several work packages involving a range of activities including; the development of standards of formats for the transport and visualization of geological and geophysical data; identifying user requirements for standard data products and viewing services; development, demonstration and documentation of software components for providing high resolution geophysical data viewing services, exploration of the use and coupling of international, open-source software plug-ins for modeling and visualization along with capacity building and training and development activities.
The Geo-Seas data, data products and services will be used by the following sectors: environmental research and monitoring; academic research; government; national and regional agencies; dredging; marine hydrocarbons; beach nourishment; land reclamation; sustainable energy; civil engineering (pipelines, offshore construction, aggregates); communications (submarine cables); shipping; fisheries; tourism; and health.
Geo-Seas populates and provides common catalogues of available data sets, such as samples, cores and seismic survey data and data products, such as various maps, managed by national geological surveys and research institutes in Europe.
To provide a detailed inventory of data sets Geo-Seas has adopted the Common Data Index (CDI) Data Discovery and Access service of SeaDataNet.
A catalogue of data products, such as various maps, and services for viewing and downloading these maps will be achieved by cooperation of Geo-Seas with the One-Geology Europe and EMODNET Geology projects.
In the context of the EMODNET and Geo-Seas projects, the GSI benefits from an opportunity to develop and maintain close relations with other scientific institutions within Europe. By these activities the GSI and the INFOMAR programme in particular, adds value by cooperation and coordination across national frontiers endeavoring to promote, share and gain new knowledge and expertise in marine geosciences.
The INFOMAR programme works to ensure that data from both the INSS and INFOMAR is easily available and integrated with other relevant data sets in order to promote innovation and the development of value added products and decision support systems. Examples of projects supported through funding or participation by INFOMAR in this area include the development of the Irish Spatial Data Exchange, the IMAGIN project to develop a strategic framework for marine aggregates, and the MESH project to develop integrated habitat maps.
Reliable maps of the seabed are essential for safe shipping and for effective management and conservation of the marine environment. While terrestrial maps are largely very accurate, seabed maps are much less so. Many 'current' nautical charts are based on data from the mid 19th century when depth was measured by lowering lead lines to the seabed at wide intervals.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is leading the Joint Irish Bathymetric Survey Project (JIBS), approved under the INTERREG IIIA Programme, with the Marine Institute of Ireland as project partner. The objective of the JIBS Project is to promote joint action to survey the seabed in such a way as to satisfy the needs of many organisations.
The JIBS project commenced on 10 April 2007 and was completed in June 2008.
The project started officially on Feb 3rd 2005, and was completed in 2008. It was funded under the Ireland/Wales INTERREG IIIA Community Initiative Programme 2000-2006.
Aggregates (sand and gravel) are essential products for the development and maintenance of infrastructure. Economically viable on-land sources in Britain and Ireland are rapidly diminishing, and in order to sustain competitive economic development, alternative sources need to be found.
The MESH Project ran between 2004 and 2008 and is made up of a consortium of twelve partners from five European countries led by the UK’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), with financial support from the EC’s INTERREG IIIB NWE Programme.
The MESH partnership draws together scientific and technical habitat-mapping skills, expertise in data collation and its management, and proven practical experience in the use of seabed-habitat maps for environmental management within national regulatory frameworks.
The aim of the MESH project is to provide a central location for all information relating to Seabed Habitat Mapping.
The MeshAtlantic Project aims to provide a harmonised seabed habitat map of the coastal and shelf areas of the Northeast Atlantic in order to aid the development of sustainable management plans at both regional and European levels.
The Marine Institute has teamed up with ten partners from institutions in other Atlantic Area countries (France, Portugal and Spain) to contribute to and deliver on all key areas of the project. The three-year project is divided into four operational work activities:
1. Map Collation – bringing together habitat and substrate data from existing maps and datasets in the Atlantic Area.
2. New Surveys – collection of data in pilot Marine Protected Areas (MPA), design of a habitat mapping survey specifically for MPA designation purposes and improvement of the EUNIS classification for southwest European regions.
3. Making New Maps – delivery of a harmonised broadscale seabed habitat map for the Atlantic Area and of detailed maps at a local level on MPA sites
4. Communication – stakeholder workshops and the creation of a WebGIS to deliver interactive maps.
The project will utilise existing spatial data from national repositories. Collation of the various datasets into standardised formats and the generation of a habitat map will add value to a relatively limited and dispersed set of data resources. Information on the broadscale distribution of EUNIS habitats will improve the quality of maritime spatial plans for the growing, sea-based economy in the Atlantic Area.
Substrate data for Irish EEZ collated from various research institutions that will be used in the generation of a broadscale EUNIS habitat map.
The MeshAtlantic Project (2010-2013) is financed by the Atlantic Area Programme, which is supported by the European Regional Development Fund.
To discover more about the MeshAtlantic Project go to http://www.MeshAtlantic.eu
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