JERICO-NEXT. Approaches to monitor European coastal seas

The objectives of JERICO-NEXT are to address the challenge of observing the complexity and high variability of coastal areas at Pan-European level, in the framework established by European Directives (WFD, MSFD) and the operational marine services. The JERICO-NEXT project aims at extending the EU network of coastal observations developed in JERICO (FP7) by adding new innovative infrastructures while integrating biogeochemical and biological observations. The main target of JERICO-NEXT is to provide the researchers with continuous and more valuable coastal data coupling physical and biological information. The JERICO research infrastructure (JERICO-RI) is valorised through six Joint Research Activity Projects (JRAP) that address key environment challenges and scientific questions; the ultimate objectives being to maximise the value and impact of the RI while providing key recommendations for the further development of the infrastructure, in terms of sampling capabilities, representativeness of coastal processes, support to services, among others. Each JRAP gathers a critical mass of expertise from the consortium, allowing tackling the challenges of multi-disciplinarity and the variability of European coastal environments.

The present report (D4.1) summarises the approaches proposed for assessing the value and the present and future relevance of the JERICO-RI, to provide high-value datasets for addressing these key challenges at European level.

Dedicated sampling strategies have been elaborated and formulated to answer key scientific questions, related to these challenges and will be tested during the next two years of the project, with the aim to provide sounded inputs to the JERICO-RI science strategy (WP1.2) for the short term, and concrete recommendations to the roadmap for the future.

Focus is set on (1) integrating physical, chemical and biological observations for improved understanding of complex coastal key-processes; (2) testing/integrating new technologies and methodologies of high added-value for the observation of the coastal processes.


JRAP-1 - Pelagic biodiversity

Biodiversity of plankton, harmful algal blooms and eutrophication

Most phytoplankton species are beneficial to the marine ecosystems, since they form the base of the food-web, but some may be harmful. The EU Marine Strategy Framework descriptors on biodiversity, food webs, invasive/non indigenous species and eutrophication (Harmful Algal Blooms = HAB) are being addressed in JRAP-1. HAB are also relevant e.g. to human health, fisheries, aquaculture and tourism. Traditional phytoplankton monitoring is often made at low sampling frequencies due to high cost. In JRAP-1 automated systems for investigating phytoplankton diversity and abundance with a focus on harmful algae are used on research vessels, ferries and at fixed ocean observatories in the Baltic Sea, the Kattegat-Skagerrak, the North Sea-eastern English Channel area and in the Western Mediterranean Sea. One aim is to combine different methods to make cost efficient observations. Another aim is to measure at a frequency high enough to approach resolving the natural variability. Field work is underway; flow cytometry and bio-optical measurements are some of the methods used. Two workshops on methodology, data handling, planning of common work and early results will be arranged in 2016. An instrumented buoy has been deployed in the Northern Baltic proper. Ferrybox systems on three ships in the Baltic Sea are in operation. Bio-optical data are being collected continuously and automated water sampling is also carried out. Water samples are analysed in the laboratory, e.g. for phytoplankton composition. The Utö observatory in the Archipelago Sea is being set up. The focussed studies in the Baltic Sea will be carried out in 2017. In the Kattegat-Skagerrak a study of plankton dynamics near a mussel farm at the Swedish Skagerrak coast will be made in August-October 2016. Also instrumented oceanographic buoys and a Ferrybox system are in operation. One objective of the study is to investigate the coupling between physical processes and harmful algal blooms. The focus organisms are phytoplankton that produces biotoxins that may accumulate in shellfish. In the eastern English Channel – North Sea area the phytoplankton are being studied using automated systems on several research vessels, ferries, instrumented buoys and also using fixed ocean observatories. Flow cytometers are operated on the research vessels. By combining the different data set the development of algal blooms can be followed. Phytoplankton functional diversity and spatio-temporal distribution at the meso-scale are studied also in the western Mediterranean thanks to the installation of a new Ferrybox system with a flow cytometer and additional instruments on the ferry “Le Carthage”. In 2017 and partly also in 2018, additional field work implying at least two partners and several methods will be carried out in JRAP-1 and the data collected will be combined with results from other JERICO-NEXT activities. The combination of results from JRAP-1, data on the carbonate system related to primary production, data from HF radar, results from physical models etc. will lead to an improved understanding of the dynamics of algal blooms and to cost efficient observation systems.



One approach in view of monitoring the ecological quality status of benthic habitats is to: (1) assess the relationship linking disturbance intensity, benthic diversity and ecosystem function, (2) monitor disturbance intensity, and (3) use it as a proxy. In coastal Seas, this approach is clearly complicated by the spatial heterogeneity and the strong temporal dynamics of both disturbances and benthic communities. It is therefore essential to develop approaches allowing for a sound assessment of spatio-temporal changes in disturbance intensity and its effects on benthic habitats. This can be achieved through comparative studies provided that: (1) spatio-temporal changes in disturbance intensity are properly assessed (e.g. through modelling), (2) temporal and spatial integration scales of biological/biogeochemical compartments processes are determined, and (3) appropriate data analysis procedures are used. The overall aim of JRAP-2 is therefore: (1) to carry out several actions (new sequences of observations) in view of practically assessing the interaction between disturbance(s), benthic diversity and functions, and (2) by doing so to contribute to define an optimal strategy to assess the interactions between these three parameters/ processes. More specifically, considering the remineralization of Particulate Organic Matter (POM) settling at the sea-floor as an indicator of the functioning of the sediment-water interface, JRAP-2 will deploy a series of measurements of  (1) benthic (both micro and macro-) diversity, and (2) the functioning of the water-sediment interface in different study areas facing different sources of disturbance.

This includes: (1) the West-Gironde Mud Patch, a major pro-delta exhibiting strong spatio-temporal gradient in sediment stability and organic enrichment; (2) the Bay of Brest, an area which is suffering from dredging and is also currently experimenting a colonization by the invasive American slipper limpet Crepidula fornicata; and (3) the Cretan Sea, a largely oligotrophic area locally and temporarily affected by the sewage outfall of the city of Heraklion.



Marine coastal waters are receptors of thousands of chemical pollutants emitted through waste water, deposited from the atmosphere or released directly to the sea from vessels or other coastal infrastructures during both professional and recreational activities. Priority lists for regulations are generally limited to a few dozens of chemicals with well-studied toxic properties. There is a paucity of information on marine water contamination and fate and distribution of contaminants in the marine ecosystem. Gathering fundamental information on the nature of the contaminants present in coastal water, their distribution and possible biological responses is necessary to implement regulation and marine protection (as requested by chapter 8 of the EU-MSFD). These activities are currently out of reach of national and international routine monitoring programmes in Europe and beyond, due to elevated costs and delay in developing adequate regulation.

The overall goal of JRAP-3 is to exploit the coastal infrastructure network and the set of parameters to deliver a “transversal” study where contamination data, biological data and water quality data will be fully integrated. Specifically, the addressed objectives are: i) to identify new contaminants in European coastal waters that are not yet addressed by regulation but which can pose a pressure to the coastal marine ecosystem; ii) to describe spatial distribution of chemical contaminants in European coastal waters exploiting integrated fixed and mobile monitoring infrastructures; iii) to investigate the patterns of the spatial distribution exploiting information from physical and chemical sensors available on the infrastructures; iv) to analyse co-linearity between contaminant signals and biological signals (specifically tracking the presence of pollution feeding microorganisms in areas with high exposure to chemical contaminants. Through these activities, JRAP-3 will contribute in valorising the JERICO-RI in the context of the descriptor 8 of the MSFD.

The work is articulated in 3 tasks in the following areas: Portuguese coasts, Bay of Biscay, North Sea, Kattegat, Skagerrak and Norwegian coasts. Task 1 includes the first pan-European monitoring of chemical pollutants using passive samplers deployed on moorings. Task 2 foresees monitoring campaigns using a set of Ferrybox platforms (mobile) in the outflow of the Baltic (Oslo and Kiel transect), the North Sea, and the Norwegian Sea. Task 3 focuses on a high spatio/temporal resolution campaign based on Ferrybox platform along the Oslo-Kiel transect focusing on the analysis of coupled chemical signals (several pharmaceuticals, personal care products, pesticides and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and biological responses (DNA-based biomarkers of bacteria adapted in feeding on chemical pollutants. In all cases, physical/optical parameters from sensors present on the selected infrastructures will be used along with chemical and biological parameters, to identified collinearities between the signals.

Complementary objectives of JRAP-3 are: i) To deliver technical protocols and best practices for the monitoring of chemical pollutants using existing coastal infrastructures. ii) To optimize existing chemical sensor technology for use on fixed coastal monitoring infrastructures. iii) To provide guidelines for the implementation of contaminant monitoring using JERICO infrastructures.

We expect to provide a substantial contribution to expand the list of emerging contaminants discovered in European coastal waters and demonstrate the feasibility of an integrated large scale (pan-European) observation of marine chemical pollution. We will also focus on delivering the first large scale correlative analysis integrating contaminant data and microbial data to tackle biological responses in relation to exposure to pollution.



Surface transport in coastal areas is driven by a large variety of processes (tides, current instabilities, coastal jets, eddies, fronts, etc.) acting simultaneously, in response to different forcing, and over a broad spectrum of time-space scales. These processes play a key role in the dispersal/retention of pollutants, planktonic species, and more generally in cross-shelf exchanges. The characterisation and better predictability of these structures are critical to understand the physical and biological interactions in the coastal zone and to accurately monitor the resulting complex surface circulation. In this context, the JRAP4 aims to demonstrate the potential of coastal observatories and the JERICO Research Infrastructure for the understanding and monitoring of the 4D shelf/slope circulation. Additional effort is devoted to quantify the potential impact of ocean transport on the distribution of floating and dissolved matter in line with the 2, 7 and 10 Marine Strategy Framework Directive descriptors.

Through JRAP4, several new deployments, in addition to historical observations, will be used to make a step forward on the characterisation of the main coastal ocean processes and resulting 4D transports at different temporal and spatial scales. The work will concentrate in three pilot areas (SE Bay of Biscay, NW Mediterranean and German Bight) and rely on the use of information from Observing Systems (OS) based on HF radar for surface currents, moored high-frequency thermistor chains, drifting buoys and high-resolution numerical model experiments (OSSES). Three main work lines common to all the study areas are defined as follows: (i) retrieval of 4D transports in each study area through an optimal observational strategy and applying eulerian and lagrangian analyses, (ii) use different methods to obtain transport short time prediction using data or combination of data and models and (iii) apply 4D transports to address issues in relation with different MSFD drivers. Specific actions within the different study areas will be devoted on producing information and maps on integrated transport that can be used as a basis for several applications, including those of interest of other JRAPs.


JRAP-5 "Coastal carbon fluxes and biogeochemical cycling"

Marine carbon cycle has a key role on global climate change. In open oceans, carbon uptake is dominated by physical dynamics and chemical processes (solubility pump), while in productive coastal areas with high spatial and temporal variability biological processes may dominate (biology pump). While solubility pump aims in balancing atmospheric and marine pCO2, the biological pump depends on the rates of primary production and respiration. In both cases the physical state of the sea (mixing, temperature etc.) and carbonate system components need to be evaluated to get comprehensive description of air-sea carbon fluxes

This JRAP will guide development of optimal observation network for C-flux studies, provide concepts and methods towards harmonized measurements and will ultimately give recommendations of setting up a combined physical, chemical and biological measurement network for carbon cycle studies as needed for understanding the role of coastal systems in global C cycles.

During the spring 2016, we will first investigate and analyse the methodology used for carbon and biological observations within the JRAP participants. Based on outcome, a comparison WS may be organized.

The main research period of this JRAP is from spring 2017 to spring 2018, in which we will collect combined carbon and relevant biological data throughout European Sea and analyse the data especially for spatial and temporal variability, and links between the biology, and physical and chemical state of the sea.


Concluded remarks

If each JRAP is dedicated to one priority, efforts have been made to maximise cross-cutting activities between JRAPs, creating bridges where appropriate. For example, the link between physical (transport) process study (JRAP-4), contaminant distribution (JRAP-3) and forecasting capability (JRAP-6) has been reinforced to maximise the outcomes of these JRAPs. Likewise, the connection between JRAP-1 and JRAP-5 has been emphasised when appropriate.

The ambition of the sampling program for each JRAPs may partly be pending on other projects and funding sources, and might therefore need to be adapted the real context. The progress and a first revision of the sampling programs per JRAPs will be presented in D4.2. Feedback on the strategies after the field deployments and analysis will be communicated to the WP1 in the lasted stage of the project (deliverable D4.5).

How to cite
Durand Dominique, Puillat Ingrid, Karlson Bengt, Grémare Antoine, Nizzetto Luca, Rubio Anna, Laakso L, Mourre Baptiste (2016). JERICO-NEXT. Approaches to monitor European coastal seas. Ref. JERICO-NEXT-WP4-D4.1-V3.0.

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