SeaDataNet: Towards a Pan-European Infrastructure for Marine and Ocean Data Management

SeaDataNet: Towards a Pan-European Infrastructure for Marine and Ocean Data Management

Dick Schaap (Marine Information Service (MARIS), The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7308-1.ch010


SeaDataNet is actively operating and further developing a Pan-European infrastructure for managing, indexing and providing access to ocean and marine data sets and data products, acquired from research cruises and other observational activities in European marine waters and global oceans. It is undertaken by the National Oceanographic Data Centres (NODCs), and marine information services of major research institutes, from 35 coastal states bordering the European seas. Its data centres have the essential capabilities and facilities for data quality control, long term stewardship, retrieval and distribution. Development and provision of standards, services and tools for marine and ocean data management has proven instrumental for wider uptake. This is further encouraged by cooperation and synergy with EU marine research projects, and by adoption of the SeaDataNet infrastructure in the EMODnet (European Marine European Marine Observation and Data Network) development. EMODnet is an initiative in the framework of the EU Marine Directive.
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Oceanographic data is highly diverse and includes a wide range of measurements and variables that have been generated by a broad, multidisciplinary spectrum of projects and programs. It has been collected by hundreds of research institutes, governmental organizations and private companies using various heterogeneous observing sensors which are installed on a variety of platforms such as research vessels, submarines, aircraft, moorings, satellites, buoys etc. to measure a range of physical, chemical, biological, geological and geophysical parameters. As well as the data captured directly from observing the marine environment, secondary data about the marine domain results from the analysis of water and sediment samples collected in the oceans.

The nature of the marine environment means that data acquisition is undertaken at very considerable cost and the resulting observations are often unique and irreplaceable. This data is also fundamental to all aspects of marine research, assessment and planning, and to make best use of it necessitates a robust operational infrastructure, based on European and internationally agreed standards covering data quality, and long-term stewardship as well as technical and semantic aspects of interoperability.

A number of directives and communications from the European Commission including the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD, 2008) highlight the need for a coordinated approach to marine monitoring in European waters to support sustainable exploitation while maintaining the good environmental status (GES) of the seas. The MSFD has also given rise to the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) that aims to integrate national and regional marine data infrastructures to allow stakeholders to access data and data products for the European seas. The EU communication “Marine Knowledge 2020” (European Commission 2010) further emphasizes the need for a systematic approach to support the development of integrated European marine data management.

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