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|Integrated and dynamical oceanographic data management|
Overkoepelend project: Research action SPSD-I: Sustainable management of the North Sea
Identifier financieringsorganisatie: MN/DD1/006 (Other contract id)
Periode: Januari 1997 tot December 2001
|Any kind of scientific work quite obviously must be based on structured, validated knowledge. This is particularly so as regards the marine environment. Any future policy or decision determined with a view to the sustainable management of the North Sea would lack any basis if there were no validated and readily accessible measurements or experimental data. Building an integrated oceanographic database is therefore a key action in the programme for "Sustainable Management of the North Sea".
The purpose of this five-year project is to establish, manage and promote a marine environmental geographical information system, ensuring a smooth and scientifically sound flow of data between the data producers (scientists in the field and in the laboratory, modellers, public authorities, etc.) and the end users (policymakers, scientists, sea professionals and the general public).
The categories of data to be considered cover a wide range of natural processes and human activities connected with the North Sea. Up to date Quality Control procedures will be followed in entering and processing the information to be included in the database. The tools and products to be developed in the course of the project will make it possible to gain a better understanding of the structure and functioning of the marine ecosystem and the influence upon it of human activities, by providing a basis for scientific assessments in the perspective of the definition of a sustainable management policy of the North Sea. This is a basic need for the fulfilment of Belgian commitments under the International Conferences on the Protection of the North Sea and the Paris and Oslo Conventions. Lastly it should be noted that an important part of the project involves data gathering and supplying information from and to scientific teams working in the framework of the other topics covered by the programme.
The project can be divided into six different but highly interdependent activities:
Initially an inventory will be made of relevant data sets and databases.
Procedures for the incoming flow of data will be defined and implemented. This covers not only the practical aspects of the transfer of information but the very important matter of quality control of data.
The design of the database itself will be analysed in depth, in function of the intrinsic characteristics of the data and in order to meet the present and future needs, ensuring the viability and the usefulness of the tool over the years.
In order to understand the processes driving the marine phenomena “hidden” in the data, a set of data analysis tools will be developed. Various approaches will be used: statistical techniques, geostatistics and spatial analysis techniques, space and time “corrections” of data sets by means of advection-diffusion models. It is also expected to take advantage of the information given by these tools to improve the quality control on the incoming data.
Given their two important characteristics 'namely their capability of simulating and forecasting processes and events' we believe that mathematical models also are an important source of information for the project. Suitable validation procedures will be defined and the results of relevant (and validated) models will be incorporated in the database.
Lastly, since one of the most important objectives of this project is to supply useful and scientifically sound information to a broad range of users, derived products will be developed (maps, tables, reports, etc.) that meet the specific requirements and levels of expertise of the various categories of users.
It should be emphasised also that the network supporting the project consists of teams with a high level of expertise in physical, chemical and biological oceanography, statistics and geo-referenced data analysis, ensuring a coherent and comprehensive force to bring the project to a successful conclusion.
The Management Unit of the Mathematical Model of the North Sea (MUMM) (Dr. ir G. Pichot), the Federal department for the management of the marine ecosystem, co-ordinates the project. More specifically it will take care of the effective implementation of the developed tools, of providing information to the database and of the production of "value added products" for use by policymakers, sea professionals and the public.
The SURFACES Laboratory (Dr. ir J.-P. Donnay) of the University of Liège will be more particularly involved in developing analysis and geo-referenced data processing tools and in the conceptual design of the database.
The University Centre for Statistics (Professor J. Billiet & Dr. J. Van Dyck) of the Catholic University of Leuven will develop the quality control procedures to apply on the incoming flow of data. They will bring their experience in statistical analysis to bear on the development of data processing tools.
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