The Knowledge Hub Science for Good Environmental Status (S4GES) aims to contribute to a better understanding and achievement of Good Environmental Status in support of the Marine Strategic Framework Directive (MSFD). The action will explore new approaches to determine the GES and provide efficient and effective observational strategies to Member States.
In 2022, the Knowledge Hub focused on an expedition by four scientific teams onboard the Research Vessel Belgica. The expedition aims to assess the marine environmental status by integrating physical, chemical and biological information from an area of the North Sea.
Achieving Good Environmental Status is a long-term and challenging task that requires international coordination, which JPI Oceans Joint Action facilitates. The Knowledge Hub will mainly focus on questions where science can make the assessment process efficient. Furthermore, after more than ten years of initiatives in support of the MSFD, the Knowledge Hub attempts to provide refreshed, more integrative perspectives.
The Joint Action is establishing three main lines of activities: i) Knowledge sharing towards the determination of GES through a series of workshops; ii) Joint integrated monitoring approaches that will take advantage of all state-of-the-art techniques and existing infrastructures; and iii) Test beds and augmented observatories to establish a new infrastructure for near real-time monitoring at sea.
A series of scientific expert workshops will be organised for sharing new knowledge and its practical understanding, conceptual approaches, and identification of needs and clues as a structured learning process to support “the official Task Groups”, the Marine Strategy Competence Centre and in general, the entire community working and addressing the MSFD.
The proposed integrated monitoring approaches should include shared, trans-disciplinary monitoring platforms and expertise. These must be linked to integrated methodologies development of technologies for monitoring relationships of biological (e.g., omics), biogeochemical, and physical processes to support a common approach, synergies, and complementarity of efforts. The scope of all this is to achieve harmonised, wide-regional, innovative, cost-efficient, and practical assessment schemes of the GES, in particular, from the synergy of modelling, satellite, and in situ products. The role of joint, integrated observation approaches as a part of the more expansive European Ocean Observing System (EOOS) will be considered to meet evolving ocean observation needs.
In this context, joint observational campaigns and shared infrastructure will be explored too.
Augmented observatories should be conceived as integrated observation, monitoring and experimentation infrastructures. Key elements will be the requirement of being autonomous and automated, providing multidisciplinary measurements, and obtaining high-resolution data collection and a real or near-real-time link with the base station on the mainland. Furthermore, the observatory ideally allows a multi-platform, adaptive sampling strategy.
These new approaches and a unified perspective on specific and crucial indicators will offer an unparalleled chance to comprehend the marine ecosystem. The way forward is to set up test beds that handle different aspects of the tasks and are conceived within the broader strategy of the ultimate augmented observatory. The ultimate goal is to better understand changes in the marine ecosystem through science-based novel approaches.
The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) is the current regulatory European Union framework that promotes actions for environmental assessments, defines environmental targets and sets programs of monitoring and measures, with the overall objective to maintain or restore a Good Environmental Status of European Seas and their resources.
The initial assessment and the Member States’ reports on the environmental status in the first implementation cycle until 2020 have shown the necessity to significantly improve the quality and coherence of the determination of Good Environmental Status by the Member States. Furthermore, the Commission recognised that criteria and methodological standards on Good Environmental Status of marine waters and specifications and standardised methods for monitoring and assessment should be based on the best available science. Through its transnational coordination of capacities and expertise, the Knowledge Hub will contribute to these requirements.