An innovative online portal has been launched to provide easy access to modelled marine data.
This will help inform the development of future marine policies and management strategies by illustrating the state of the marine environment in four European regional seas over the last 25 years.
The Operational Ecology (OPEC) project, funded by the European Commission and led by PML, created this novel portal for use by marine management authorities, scientific researchers, government departments, coastal managers, NGOs and marine industries, to support their quest to understand, forecast and balance the multiple pressures facing important marine ecosystems.
The Marine OPEC Data Portal consolidates a range of data streams into a simple user interface and contains data from 1990 to 2014 for the NE Atlantic, Baltic Sea, Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The portal was developed following the EU’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) descriptors of good ecological status to ensure relevance and usefulness to the target users.
Users are able to access the data associated with these regions and produce tailored maps and graphs for each area, covering a range ecosystem indicators such as temperature, salinity, nutrients and biomass. This information can then be used to estimate potential impacts to the relevant ecosystem due to environmental change or human use.
Models are numerical simulations of real-world systems, such as a marine ecosystem. They describe the known structure and functional properties of a system or set of systems to reveal the potential interactions and networks within. The main advantage of using models is they can be manipulated to indicate possible system changes or interactions and the often unobvious consequences that may result. The ability to model complex ecosystems provides an understanding of a system that often goes far beyond what can be determined from direct observations, analysis and extrapolation.
The overall aim of the OPEC project was to develop and evaluate marine ecosystem forecast tools to help assess and manage the risks posed by human activities and, therefore, improving the ability to predict the “health” of European marine environments.
A short film about the project and a brief demonstration of the portal can be found here. The portal software is also available under an open source licence on GitHub.