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Resuscitation of the data collected during the first years of modern oceanography in Belgium

More:  Institutes 
Reference no: SD/NS/14A
Acronym: PMPZ-DB II
Period: August 2009 till July 2011
Status: Completed

Institutes (2)  Top 
  • Belgian Science Policy (BELSPO), more, sponsor
  • Koninklijk Belgisch Instituut voor Natuurwetenschappen; Departement Beheer van het Mariene Ecosysteem; Beheerseenheid Mathematisch Model Noordzee en Schelde-estuarium; Belgisch Marien Data Centrum (BMDC), more


Access to historical ocean data is required to study global change and to define the "good environmental status" of the marine waters. This later is imposed by the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive and has to be reached by 2020. PMPZ-DBII focuses on digitalizing and making available Belgian oceanographic data of the 1970-1982 period. These data are thus crucial for marine policy makers who have to comply with the requirement of the EU Framework Directives, but also for any climate or oceanographic research where time evolution is under consideration.

Project description


Modern oceanography, with systematic measurement campaigns of significant parameters for assessing the quality of the marine environment, actually started in the Belgian waters with the "Projet Mer/Projekt Zee". This project, Phase I of the North Sea Research Programme of the Belgian Science Policy brought together more than 200 scientists and technicians during the period 1970-1976 for a systematic study of the Belgian marine waters of the estuary of the Scheldt river. Key-researches were even prolonged a few years more in the frame of "concerted actions" (Phase II of the North Sea Research Programme, 1977-1982).
The results of this vast project are kept in forms and formats which are not readily useful for a direct and systematic scientific analysis: paper reports, copies of magnetic tapes, archives of the researchers. PMPZ-DBII aims at transforming that information into a coherent and integrated dataset and to make it available for any further treatment.


Due to the peculiarities of the information sources (considering only the eleven volumes of the final report of the "Projet Mer / Projekt Zee", more than 230 tables, more than 420 graphs, not mentioning the information to retrieve from the text itself: about 300 pages), a very rigorous methodology will be developed (1) to identify the useful information and to reference it in a relational way, (2) to actually digitize the information. This methodology will be validated by the follow-up committee before being applied, together with the prioritisation of the data to process.
A special effort will be put on the documentation of the basic data ("meta-information") and on their update to contemporary concepts (in particular for the taxonomy), in order to optimise their usefulness for future studies.
The resulting data set will be incorporated into the existing IDOD data base and will thus be available to users like any other recent data. The data will be put under the spotlights through dedicated web pages explaining also the context of the historical project. Besides, two case studies will be studied in order to demonstrate the usefulness of the rescued data.

Expected results and/or products

(1) A historical oceanographic dataset digitized, documented and imported in the « IDOD » database and available without restriction.
(2) Documented specific recovery procedures that will be communicated to the marine data managers’ community.
(3) Web pages presenting the project and the data.
(4) Two case studies showing the importance and the usefulness of the rescued dataset.

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