The ocean and coastal communities worldwide are experiencing the impacts of climate change since many years, with the ocean playing a fundamental role in our response to it. This aspect has been highlighted by key campaigns such as the UN Decade of Ocean Science, and the European Union employed several measures in this field. The European Commission brought together core issues related to both marine research and blue economy in the call for the “Future of Seas and Oceans Flagship Initiative”, which resulted in the funding of the Horizon 2020 project Blue-Cloud, with the aim to develop pilot demonstrators for its services.

The five Blue-Cloud pilot demonstrators will showcase the potential of our project in a range of key areas for marine science and sustainability. The demonstrator “Marine Environmental Indicators” has a specific focus on data related to the marine environment, and it is led by the CMCC Foundation, in collaboration with IFREMER, Mercator Ocean International, the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), and the University of Bergen.

The demonstrator will develop an online service, bringing together into the same framework the data, the computational resources, and the cloud-based technology, in order to support European and international stakeholders in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and in the Blue Economy. Upon the foreseen development in Blue-Cloud of innovative data management technologies and methodologies, the demonstrator will build a bridge between the science and the environmental agencies, responding to the urgent need to develop innovative flexible capability for both the scientific investigation of climate trends and the monitoring activities.


Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

The current landscape

Blue-Cloud will be built upon a wide range of existing resources and platforms, which at the moment are not always accessible in an efficient and fully integrated way, and sometimes indicators cannot be calculated online in a dynamic mode.

A website with a collection of the preliminary set of indicators was developed by CMCC and other partners, where a set of pre-calculated datasets and indicators are available.

Algorithms for the online calculation of some MSFD - Marine Quality Indicators were already tested in a cloud environment at a limited scale, as part of EU MELODIES Project. Machine learning-based algorithms are available and have been tested by IFREMER mainly on Argo float data.

The Blue-Cloud added-value

The Blue-Cloud demonstrator will develop an online service and a dedicated web interface, to provide and display indicators and information on the environmental quality of the ocean. The initial focus will be on the Mediterranean Sea region, and in a later stage, it will be possible to extend the investigation on the Global Ocean.

The system will be designed on the basis of requirements indicated by intermediate users such as environmental protection agencies, and will be made accessible online by means of the Blue-Cloud Virtual Research Environment (VRE), and also in the context of Copernicus DIAS – WEkEO.

The development of an innovative user interface will enable users to perform several operations on the multi-source data sets, such as selecting a portion of data for a specific area and period of time, or performing analytics with several methodologies on the selected variables, or displaying the available indicators by tables, map and graphics visualizations.

A set of marine environmental indicators will be defined and produced interacting with selected users in the Mediterranean Sea region, including:

  • statistical analysis of ocean fields, based on waves, currents, temperature, salinity, primary production;
  • Chl-a trends, TRIX, Chl-a statistical analysis, mixing indicator;
  • biological indicators;
  • wind and atmospheric indicators;
  • inorganic carbon indicators.

For each indicator, a data processing workflow will be developed adopting big data analytics based on statistical analysis (e.g. trends, anomalies, uncertainty assessment) and machine learning methods on the multi-source input data sets. The implementation will be aspiring to the compliancy with the FAIR principles (Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, Reusability), and based on the standardized OGC Web Processing Services (WPS) rules, in order to enable the possibility of a sustainable and flexible scaling upon the evolving landscape of dedicated and federated infrastructures.

This service will finally demonstrate the capability of the EU infrastructures involved in the environment monitoring, which are:

In the Blue-Cloud project these existing infrastructures will be federated to provide a unique data discovery and access framework, boosting the capability of the demonstrator to produce online and on-the-fly analysis.

Furthermore, the joint exploitation of DIAS – WEkEO and the progressive adoption of FAIR principles, especially in respect to the possibility to publish world-wide discoverable new added-value data products, are expected to foster together a long-term sustainable Blue Economy roadmap, likewise enabling to extend the connection with more societal benefit areas, and helping to close the loop of a genuine circular economy.

Hear directly from Massimiliano Drudi (Researcher - CMCC Foundation).

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