The coastal and marine environment is a major provider of goods and services, such as food, fossil fuels, construction materials, transport and recreation. It also hosts an invaluable biodiversity that forms complex ecosystems which are threatened by human activities such as agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture, shipping, urbanisation and tourism.
The JRC provides scientific and technical support for the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive which aims to protect marine waters.
The JRC systematically assesses key environmental indicators of marine and coastal areas using a unique combination of satellite observations and numerical modelling simulations. Remotely sensed data is analysed and used to develop a marine and coastal knowledge base, which focuses on physically and biologically sensitive areas within European waters and other seas of interest. This knowledge base supports a consistent ecosystem approach to integrated coastal management and maritime spatial planning.
The JRC supports the Marine Strategy Framework Directive’s aim to achieve a Good Environmental Status (GES) of all European Seas by 2020 by assessing European marine waters, determining their environmental status and establishing monitoring programmes. In parallel, the JRC provides access to up-to-date, ready-to-use and tailor-made information for the assessment of the ecological quality of coastal and marine waters in Europe.
Through the analysis of satellite remotely sensed data and the application of numerical modelling, the JRC contributes to an effective and long-lasting marine and coastal stewardship in Europe. The JRC is working to update the coastal and marine data and information system called the Environmental Marine Information System (EMIS), which provides online scientific information by way of geo-referenced maps. The JRC also disseminates datasets and information from satellite observations and numerical modelling as required for the analysis of coastal and marine ecosystem status and trends, including climate change, on the scale of European and regional seas.
Monitoring Marine Biomass and Productivity
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 for the EU 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, which are the mainstay of countless economic and recreational activities.
The JRC develops tools to accurately monitor the ecosystem response to the addition of artificial or natural substances using satellite images. This optical remote sensing of the sea, called satellite “ocean colour”, can provide daily maps of the biogeochemical characteristics of seawater or the concentration of non-living matter. This information is essential for water quality monitoring, marine resources and biodiversity evaluation, ecosystem modelling, and for carrying out climate change studies.
The JRC 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.
In cooperation with the European Environment Agency (EEA), the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), and the regional Marine Conventions, the JRC provides scientific and technical advice to the European Commission on marine and coastal stewardship in Europe.
The JRC updates the Environmental Marine Information System, which provides online scientific information by way of geo-referenced maps. The system will be further developed to find synergies with the advancements of the Water Information System for Europe (WISE) which currently does not include marine information. The JRC maintains and develops a similar marine information system called the Global Marine Information System (GMIS), which focuses primarily on waters around Africa. The JRC also disseminates datasets and information from satellite observations and numerical modelling as required for the analysis of coastal and marine ecosystem status and trends, including climate change, on the scale of European and regional seas. It also cooperates with the Black Sea riparian countries, in order to harmonise Black Sea monitoring and assessment with a view to preparing for the European Marine Strategy.
Sustainable management of natural resources in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States
The JRC also supports EU development policy by assisting ACP countries to manage and protect their coastal and marine ecosystems. This includes providing environmental monitoring expertise to assess the state of biodiversity.
Waves breaking onto a wooded coastline with a cliff in the background.