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Objectives and Background

Importance of the Data Archiving to Meet the socio-economical Needs
History and Pilot Programmes
Basic Parameters to Archive
Objectives and methodology of the MEDAR/MEDATLAS II initiative




Objectives and Background

The overall objective of the MEDAR/MEDATLAS II project is to make available a comprehensive data product of multi-disciplinary in-situ data and information in the Mediterranean and Black Sea, through a wide co-operation of the Mediterranean countries. The specific project objectives are: 1. to compile and safeguard historical data, with special attention to the East and South regions and the coastal areas, most of these data being regularly collected by the Mediterranean bordering countries in the frame of national regional or international programmes, and occasionally by a few other countries; 2. to make available comparable and compatible data sets of : temperature, salinity, oxygen, nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, total nitrogen, phosphate, total phosphorus, silicate, H2S, pH, alkalinity, chlorophyll-a profiles by using a common protocol for formatting and quality checking; 3. to prepare and disseminate qualified value added products by using efficient gridding and mapping methodology; 4. to enhance communication between data managers and scientists to improve the data circulation. The timely implementation of the project tasks will be insured by a technical approach both thematic and regional : · As carried out during the pilot MAST/MEDATLAS (MAS2-CT93-0074) project, data rescue and quality control will be implemented regionally. Each participant, who represents the National Co-ordinator for International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange at the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, will compile and safeguard copies of the data sets dispersed in the scientific laboratories of his country, and transcode them at the common MEDATLAS format. These data sets will be checked for quality (QC) according to the common protocol based on the international IOC, ICES and EC/MAST recommendations, with automatic (objective) and visual (subjective) checks. · Standard sets of statistical analyses and characteristics will be computed and mapped by developing and implementing the Variational Inverse Model of MODB (MAS2-CT93-0075-BE) and the results will be qualified by appropriate new technology defined by modellers. · Hyperlinked WWW servers will be developed to promote the database and the Mediterranean data management. The final product will be an electronic atlas on CDrom for dissemination of the data among a wide range of users from scientific, educational, industrial, governmental communities. It will include the observed and analysed data, maps, software and documentation. Aside the data product, it is expected to contribute to preserve the data and improve the overall level of quality, to decrease the time lag between data collection and release, to valorise the ship time by promoting second use of the data, and finally to contribute to develop sustainable regional capacity building for the Mediterranean scientific and operational programmes, by enhancing the existing data management structures through job training and workshops in data qualifying, processing, mapping and archiving.


Importance of the Data Archiving to Meet the socio-economical Needs

Managing the marine ressources and following up the environmental changes (whatever natural or introduced partly as a result of human activity) in the sea waters requires the compilation of long times series of observations : · Dissolved Oxygen : deficiencies in the upper layers, can result in diminution of higher life forms, liberation of toxic forms of metals and pathology in living organisms. · Nutrients : changes in nutrients fluxes, can alter primary production and the biodiversity, and can directly affect aquaculture, fishing activity. · Temperature and Salinity : allow the computation of derived parameters such as density, permanent (geostrophic) currents and sound velocity, currently used in the off shore industry (oil prospection, communication cable lay out, remote data transmission) and are primary indicators of climate changes. Archiving and appropriate data management is necessary : after 10 year about 30% of the data are very difficult to retrieve if not lost, whereas : · once lost, an observation in varaible environment can never been remade · data originating from different sources must be coherent and compatible · data can be valorised by preparation of products and second users International cooperation makes possible : · to define and implement common standards of quality, · to prepare more complete catalogues and data products


Basic Parameters to Archive

Basic parameters have been identified as necessary for the ecosystem modelling, and because a significant preliminary knowledge of their distribution was available to allow quality assurance procedures to be applied :

Temperature · Salinity· Oxygen· Nitrate + Nitrite · Nitrite· Ammonia · Total Nitrogen · Phosphate· Total Phosphorus · Silicate · H2S· pH· Alkalinity· Chlorophyll-a.

Observations of these parameters have been made by various scientific laboratories of many countries from the beginning of the century. Actions should be undertaken to insure their safeguarding, their quality and to facilitate their access.


History and Pilot Programmes

In the framework of UNESCO/IOC/IODE : International Oceanographic Data & Information Exchange ( ·

1993 : Global Oceanographic Data Archaeology and Rescue Project (GODAR) is launched ( ·

1995 : GODAR IV - IOC-ICSU-CEC Regional Workshop for Member States of the Mediterranean, Malta April 1995. UNESCO-IOC Report No 110 ·

Dec 1996 : Mediterranean Data Archaeology and Rescue of temperature, salinity and bio-chemical parameter (MEDAR), officially endorsed by IOC

May 1997 : IOC-MAST-MEDAR/MEDATLAS Meeting, Istanbul. IOC/INF-1084 summary report ·

In the framework of EC/MAST ( : ·

MODB (1995-1996) ( ·

MEDATLAS Pilot Project (1994-1997) (

MEDAR/MEDATLAS II  Objectives and Methodology

1. to complete the data-void areas in the Eastern and Southern parts of the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea with new observations, through a wide co-operation of the Mediterranean countries and use of enhanced communication facilities (fax, ftp, WWW servers, email) to fasten exchange of information and data among participants and users ;

2. to make available comparable and compatible data sets of temperature, salinity and bio-chemical profiles issuing from different sources, by using a common protocol for formatting and quality checking ;

3. to prepare value added products including climatological gridded statistics and maps that will be useful for the understanding and modelling of the Mediterranean and Black Sea by using efficient and robust objective analysis techniques ;

4. to facilitate the access to the archived data and enhance the data for various scientific, educational, industrial and environmental needs, through electronic publishing on widely disseminated media and promotion ;

5. to insure the quality of the data products by performing quality checks in accordance to the available international standards at each stage of the data processing.

In addition to these specific objectives, it is expected, on the long term :
to contribute to improve the overall level of data quality by developing and standardising common protocols for data management and data exchange, especially for handling oxygen and nutrients data,
to decrease the time lag between data collection and data release, and contribute to valorise the ship time by enhancing further use of the data among different scientific, operational and industrial communities ;
to develop a distributed data management structure for the Mediterranean scientific and operational oceanography, by job training and workshops in data qualifying, processing, mapping, archiving and communication.