Europe’s enclosed and marginal seas can provide a vital contribution to the EU 2020 objectives of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. An Integrated Maritime Policy is essential to achieving EU commitments with respect to biodiversity targets, climate change mitigation and efficient use of natural resources. In order to achieve these targets and objectives, we need a better understanding of the inner workings of the many diverse seas and coastal systems in Europe and globally, which are the mainstay of countless economic and recreational activities.
The IES has established and maintains an integrated data system which processes, analyses and archives quality-controlled satellite-derived ocean colour data products in order to provide information maps on the organic biomass and carbon productivity of European seas and global oceans.
Phytoplankton biomass is a key component of the marine ecosystem. Phytoplankton converts carbon dioxide into organic carbon through the process of photosynthesis, i.e. primary production. Marine photosynthesis accounts for approximately half of the total carbon fixation in the global biosphere, making it a critical element of the Earth’s carbon budget and biogeochemical cycles. In addition, phytoplankton biomass and primary production are descriptors of the first trophic level in the marine food chain. Quantitative estimates of these variables from satellite could therefore provide important information on the structure and functioning of the rest of the food web, from phytoplankton to commercially exploited fish populations.
Satellite-derived optical data for marine applications are processed within the IES using public software to retrieve the optical properties of marine waters, to estimate the optically active constituents in the surface layer, and characterisation of aerosols. Algorithms are implemented in an operational framework and accompanied by tools for re-mapping and time compositing. A complete time-series (1997 to present) of these products has been generated from several satellite databases on grid a resolution of 2 km x 2km for an area covering all European seas.
The high frequency repeat sampling of satellite data provides sufficient information to describe the seasonal and inter-annual dynamics of the chlorophyll fields and offers a rapid and cost-effective means of detecting changes in the magnitude and spatial distribution of a major ecosystem property of the marine environment, and to quantify the response of the marine ecosystem to natural or anthropogenic perturbations.
Nicolas Hoepffner - Tel.: + 39-0332-789873 E-mail: Nicolas.hoepffner(at)jrc.ec.europa.eu
Frédéric Mélin – Tel:+39-0332-785627 E-mail: Frederic.melin(at)jrc.ec.europa.eu