On November 11th 2014, Mercator Océan, the French centre for analysis and forecasting of the oceans, was entrusted by the European Commission to manage and implement the marine component of the European Union’s Copernicus programme: the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service (CMEMS). With a budget of up to €144 million, Mercator Océan is committed to operating the service on behalf of the European Commission for the next six years, up until 2021.
Evolution of the service
The Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service (CMEMS) provides full, free and open access to regular and systematic reference information on the physical state and marine ecosystems of the oceans and European regional seas (including, for example, temperature, currents, salinity, sea surface height, sea ice, marine optics, nutrients, etc.). The service is enabled by satellite and in situ observation-based data, and can provide a description of the current situation (analysis), a prediction of the situation a few days ahead (forecast) and the provision of consistent retrospective data records for recent years (re-analysis).
The service, which has been fully operational since May 2015, will also contribute to the monitoring of compliance with major EU policies, such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The service provides information applicable to a diverse range of fields including the protection of marine species, maritime safety and vessel routing, the sustainable exploitation of ocean resources, marine energy resources, climate monitoring and weather forecasting.
CMEMS has been built up through a series of three EU-funded research and development projects (MyOcean, MyOcean2 and MyOcean Follow-On), coordinated by Mercator Océan with the participation of 60 other partners. During the course of these projects, starting from March 2009, the service was available on a pre-operational, pilot basis.
The products delivered by the service are provided free of charge to registered users through an interactive catalogue available on the ‘marine.copernicus.eu’ website. CMEMS began operations with over 5 000 subscribers, who had already registered during its pre-operational phase.
Engaging users and raise awareness
Mercator Océan has been involved in continuous efforts to engage with and raise awareness amongst new and existing users during the development of the service, and these activities will continue in the operational phase, during which several annual regional and training workshops will be organised. A workshop focusing on two major oceanic regions, the Mediterranean Sea and the IBI Region (Atlantic-European South West Shelf-Ocean), will be held in the winter of 2015.
Two major streams of activity are underway which will further foster the evolution of the service: one focusing on the scientific and technological progress of the service (Service Evolution programme), and another dedicated to increasing the uptake of services amongst users, especially in relation to new value-added (“downstream”) services (User Uptake programme)
Both activities are designed to stimulate dynamic interactions between the marine research and user communities and their stakeholders. In particular the User Uptake activity will be crucial to link the CMEMS with private companies; it will enable and promote the development of downstream applications or of technical demonstrators in Maritime safety, Marine resources and Coastal environment.
A major workshop was organised in Brussels in September to present CMEMS service evolution and user uptake strategies and to gather feedback from the main CMEMS stakeholders and the wider marine research and user communities.
There is a clear complementarity between the different Copernicus services. In particular, there is an inherent link between the Marine, the Atmosphere and the Climate Change services, the latter two being operated by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). For this reason, ECMWF and Mercator Océan are conducting an open dialogue in order to examine interoperability between the services to avoid duplication of efforts.
Mercator Océan will also collaborate with the European Environment Agency (EEA), coordinator of the in situ component of Copernicus, for the acquisition of observations at sea. Similar collaboration will be carried out with the European Space Agency for the acquisition of satellite data.
Mercator Océan is successfully implementing, on behalf of the European Commission, a user-driven Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service, which is expected to contribute to the Blue Economy and to European innovation and competitiveness. So far, the private sector represents about 20% of CMEMS users and improving this proportion is a challenge and a strategic element of the EC’s Space policies.