The European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) is a long term marine data initiative from the European Commission Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) underpinning its Marine Knowledge 2020 strategy. EMODnet is a consortium of organisations assembling European marine data, data products and metadata from diverse sources in a uniform way. The main purpose of EMODnet is to unlock fragmented and hidden marine data resources and to make these available to individuals and organisations (public and private), and to facilitate investment in sustainable coastal and offshore activities through improved access to quality-assured, standardised and harmonised marine data which are interoperable and free of restrictions on use.
The EMODnet data infrastructure is developed through a stepwise approach in three major phases.
- Phase I (2009-2013) developed a prototype (so called ur-EMODnet) with coverage of a limited selection of sea-basins, parameters and data products at low resolution;
- Phase II (2013-2016) - moved from a prototype to an operational service with full coverage of all European sea-basins, a wider selection of parameters and medium resolution data products;
- Phase III (2016-2020) - is working towards providing a seamless multi-resolution digital map of the entire seabed of European waters providing highest resolution possible in areas that have been surveyed, including topography, geology, habitats and ecosystems; accompanied by timely information on physical, chemical and biological state of the overlying water column as well as oceanographic forecasts.
A vision for the accessibility and interoperability of Marine Knowledge in 2020 was set out in the European Commission's 2012 Green Paper:
"... a seamless multi-resolution digital seabed map of European waters by 2020. It should be of the highest resolution possible, covering topography, geology, habitats and ecosystem. It should be accompanied by access to timely observations and information on the present and past physical, chemical and biological state of the overlying water column, by associated data on human activities, by their impact on the sea and by oceanographic forecasts. All this should be easily accessible, interoperable and free of restriction on use. It should be nourished by a sustainable process that progressively improves its fitness for purpose and helps Member States maximize the potential of their marine observation, sampling and surveying programmes."
Currently EMODnet provides access to marine data from the following themes:
EMODnet development is a dynamic process so new data, products and functionality are added regularly while portals are continuously improved to make the service more fit for purpose and user friendly with the help of users and stakeholders.
The EMODnet family also includes the "Checkpoints", i.e. initiatives that aim to assess the quality of the current observation monitoring data at the level of the regional sea-basins. By testing the data against specific end-user challenges, the checkpoints will demonstrate how well the current monitoring systems and data collection frameworks provides data to meet the needs of users. In doing so, data gaps and duplications as well as significant bottlenecks will be highlighted.
Last but not least, in 2016, the EMODnet Data Ingestion project was launched to identify and to reach out to other potential providers (outside the EMODnet family) in order to make their data sets also part of the total offer. The project aims to streamline the data ingestion process so that data holders from public and private sectors that are not yet connected to the existing marine data management infrastructures can easily release their data for safekeeping and subsequent distribution through EMODnet. This will enrich the total offer for all types of users and conform to the EMODnet motto 'collect data once and use it many times'. For further information, please visit the EMODnet Data Ingestion portal.