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EUR-OCEANS - EURopean network of excellence for OCean Ecosystems Analysis

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Summary information

Funding:FP6 - Network of Excellence
Total cost:40000000
Ec contribution:10000000
Start date:2005-01-01
End date:2008-12-31
Duration:48 months
Coordinator:Paul Tréguer (
Organisation:National Council for Scientific Research – France
Themes:Abiotic changes; biologic impacts; socio-economic impacts
Regio:Arctic; Baltic Sea; Mediterranean Sea; North Atlantic
Keywords:Global change, climate change, anthropogenic impacts on the marine ecosystems, ecosystems end-to-end, marine biogeochimistry, public outreach
Project name:EUR-OCEANS - EURopean network of excellence for OCean Ecosystems Analysis
Project summary:Abstract
EUR-OCEANS aims to achieve lasting integration of European research organisations on global change and pelagic marine ecosystems, and to develop models for assessing and forecasting the impacts of climate and anthropogenic forcing on food-web dynamics (structure, functioning, diversity and stability) of pelagic ecosystems in the open ocean. The NOE will favour the progressive integration of research programmes and facilities of major research Institutes all over Europe. The long-term goal of the NOE is to create a multi-site institute for European research on ocean ecosystems under anthropogenic and natural forcings. The international context is provided by Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics (GLOBEC), and the forthcoming Integrated Marine Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research (IMBER) of the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme (IGBP). EUR-OCEANS' Joint Programme of Activities (JPA) comprises:
1. Integrating activities on: networking (data and model integration);
2. Jointly executed research, organised around four broad modelling tasks (together with observations and experiments) on: pelagic ecosystems end-to-end, biogeochemistry, ecosystem approach to marine resources and within-system integration;
3. Activities to spread excellence, including training of researchers, and spreading excellence to socioeconomic users and to the European public (through the Association of Aquaria for EUR-OCEANS public outreach);
4. Management Activities. Administrative and Financial Coordinator: Institut Océanographique. Governing bodies: General Assembly (Member Organisations); Executive Committee (incl.Scientific Director and the Deputy); Steering Committee (incl. Work Packages Leaders). Councils: Scientific, Intellectual, Gender Equality, and EUR-OCEANS Institute. Composition: 69 Member Organisations, from 25 states (incl. 7 Third countries); 160 PIs selected for their capacity and excellence. Close cooperation with the USA, Australia, Canada, Namibia and Japan.
Project outputs:Major achievements
From 2005 to 2008, the EUR-OCEANS Network of Excellence brought together more than 160 Principal Investigators and 350 Associated Scientists, from 61 member research institutes and universities in 25 countries in Europe and beyond. The objectives of the NoE were twofold: scientific progress and networking.

The overall scientific objective was to develop models for assessing and forecasting the impacts of climate and anthropogenic forcing on pelagic ecosystems, in order to define a basis for sustainable development at a global level. The networking objective was to achieve lasting integration of major European organisations research efforts in this scientific field. Additionally, the EUR-OCEANS NoE also aimed to develop international co-operation with non European countries, in particular with the USA.

To achieve the agreed networking and overall scientific objectives the EUR-OCEANS’ methodology was to build a Joint Programme of Activity (JPA) structured to favour interactions between the four major components/communities dealt with by the NoE's scientific programme, i.e. climate and anthropogenic forcing, biogeochemistry, ecosystem end-to-end, ecosystem approach to marine resources. The JPA included Integration, Education, Training and Outreach activities as well as Jointly Executed Research activities, distributed amongst 10 work packages. These activities were developed targeting seven distinct Systems (i.e., geographical areas or ecosystem types).
A. Integration, Education, Training, Outreach programmes
The programmes that the NOE designed and implemented to favour networking and integration are as follows.

The PhD Programme (2005-2008): To foster integration, EUR-OCEANS funded PhD projects that were supervised by advisors belonging to two or more Institutes in different countries. The 19 students, selected on criteria of excellence, originated from another country than those where the Institutes were located. The advisors were from France (28%), the United Kingdom (20%), the Netherlands (16%), Germany (14%), Belgium, Denmark, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Greece and Italy. Interestingly, DIFRES (Denmark) and the French Ministry of Research added one scholarship each to the EUR-OCEANS PhD Programme, for a grand total of 21 EUR-OCEANS PhD students. In addition, more than 300 PhD theses in the EUR-OCEANS science field, funded from resources other than the EUR-OCEANS EC grant, have been co-supervised by EUR-OCEANS PIs. A promising output of the PhD programme was, in 2006, the creation of the MENTOR Doctoral Network created by the universities of Brest (France), Bremen and Kiel (Germany), Bergen (Norway) and Southampton (the United Kingdom). MENTOR is leading CALMARO, an Early Stage Training project within the “Marie Curie Actions” of the European Commission.

The postdoctoral programme operated along the same lines. Eleven scientists originating from 7 countries and supervised by 23 PIs from 11 different countries started their projects between late 2006 and 2008.

The Integration Projects: Fourteen projects were selected and funded to favour integration. They involved 22 PIs (on behalf of 80 scientists) belonging to 16 MOs of 11 countries.

The Floating University programme: Two “universities at sea” were organised by EUROCEANS with the help of the universities of Tromsö and Bremen. A total of 17 students (11 male, 6 female) originating from 7 countries benefited from two cruises in the Nordic Sea (on board of R/V Jan Mayen), and in the North Atlantic Ocean (on board of the R/V Marian S. Merian).

The summer school programme: From 2006 to 2008 EUR-OCEANS organised or coorganised 6 summer schools, for both its own and external students. Those summer schools took place in Portugal, Germany, Turkey, Denmark, and the United Kingdom.
The mobility programme: From 2006 to 2008, 120 EUR-OCEANS PIs, associated scientists and students, affiliated to 41 different MOs, benefited from a mobility grant to visit another MO.

The sharing facilities programme: From 2005 to 2008 EUR-OCEANS designed and implemented a database for sharing major facilities (mesocosms, mass spectrometers, equipment at sea, etc.) available in different MOs. One hundred and twelve such facilities have been identified and shared during 6.052 days from 2005 to 2008, which corresponds to a mean of approximately 15 days of sharing per facility and per year.

The data rescue and transformation programme: From 2006 to 2008 EUR-OCEANS developed a programme for rescuing data that were relevant to model development and validation. The 16 funded proposals were from Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, United Kingdomraine, and the United Kingdom. In addition, four proposals for data transformation (addition of metadata, format and unit changes) were also awarded funds; successful proposals were from France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

The knowledge transfer programme to socio-economic users: From 2005 to 2008, the Knowledge Transfer Unit has produced 16 Fact Sheets, delivered to targeted socio-economic users identified in a database (governmental and regional organisations, local fisheries management committees, NGOs, international advisory bodies, etc.). The symposium on "Coping with global change in marine social-ecological systems", a socio-economically oriented European conference organised by EUR-OCEANS in synergy with GLOBEC and the FAO, was held in Rome (Italy) from 7 to 11 July 2008.

The Public Outreach Programme: This programme was implemented by a Network of 10 aquaria and scientific centres located in France, Greece, Italy, Monaco, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. This Network, created by EUR-OCEANS, produced 16 films to illustrate critical issues of the EUR-OCEANS science field domain. This activity was carried out under the control of 44 PIs originating from 21 different MOs of 12 countries involving France, Germany, Norway, Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Researchers from Monaco and Peru also participated to this activity. The network of aquaria and scientific centres also developed a specific educational programme for European schools and a film contest (2008) in which 8 European countries participated, and which a primary school from the United Kingdom won. The goal of developing international cooperation was met through active cooperation with IMBER and GLOBEC, two active international programmes sponsored by IGBP and SCOR. This included the co-organisation of 40 workshops and summer schools. In addition, in the context of the International Polar Year (2007-2009), EUR-OCEANS took the initiative of the ICED programme (coordinator: BAS, United Kingdom). Concerning research in the coastal upwelling domain, EUR-OCEANS also actively developed collaborations with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Peru, BENEFIT, Namibia, Mauritania and Morocco. EUR-OCEANS, together with GLOBEC and IMBER, also took the BASIN initiative. This ambitious programme will bring together researchers from Europe, USA, and Canada to better understand and model the impacts of global change on the marine ecosystems of the North Atlantic basin.

B. Jointly Executed Research:
Developing models for assessing and forecasting the impacts of climate and anthropogenic forcing on food-web dynamics of pelagic ecosystems in the open Ocean: The overall scientific objective of EUR-OCEANS was to develop models for assessing and forecasting the impacts of climate and anthropogenic forcing on food-web dynamics (structure, functioning, diversity and stability) of pelagic ecosystems in the open ocean. This objective has been achieved before the end of the fourth year. The EUR-OCEANS modelling efforts resulted in publications such as Le Quéré et al. (2007), Schneider et al. (2008), Orr et al., Cury et al. (2008), Senina et al. (2008), Lehodey et al., Travers et al. (2009), and fed ongoing projects such as MEECE. In 2007, several EUROCEANS researchers (including Thomas Stocker, Corinne Le Quéré, Fortunat Joos and Christoph Heinze) played key roles in the activities of Working Group I (WGI) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which released its Fourth Assessment Report AR4. With the development of ecosystem models the NOE has contributed to pave the way for the next report. EUR-OCEANS researchers produced major publications that are milestones on the road of forecasting the impacts of climate and anthropogenic forcing on marine ecosystems. Among these publications are: (1) a paper on how global climate will modify the metabolic balance (production vs. respiration) of the oceans (P.N.A.S., 2006, 103: 8739-8744), (2) a paper on saturation of the Southern ocean CO2 sink due to recent climate change (Science, 2007: 316, DOI:10.1126/science.1136188, 1735-1738), and (3) a paper dealing with a new field of research for the ecosystem approach to fisheries called ecosystem oceanography (Trends in Evolution and Ecology, 2008, 23: 338-346). More specifically, the following developments can be highlighted:
1. Development of coupled physical - biogeochemical models at global scale
The Dynamic Green Ocean Model: A consortium of ten EUR-OCEANS MOs (>30 scientists from different EUR-OCEANS research groups, also involving Canadian organisations), supported the development of the Dynamic Green Ocean project, which strongly contributed to the EUR-OCEANS integration process. This project develops a comprehensive model of the oceanic compartment of the Earth system.
Earth system modelling: The EUR-OCEANS Earth system modelling activity was conducted by three centres of excellence, in Bergen (Norway), Bern (Switzerland), and Gif-sur-Yvette (France). Based on the comparative use of three coupled global AOGCM models, it successfully reached its objectives. The acidification of the ocean due to anthropogenic CO2 dissolution is a key issue addressed by this EUR-OCEANS modelling group. The changes in the saturation state of seawater with respect to aragonite were investigated in three Earth System Models. According to the results given in two manuscripts submitted to Nature and to Biogeosciences, the impact of ocean acidification is imminent in the Arctic Ocean, which will become undersaturated over the coming decade. The second key issue addressed by this EUR-OCEANS modelling group was the simulation of marine productivity and climate linkages using comprehensive Earth System Models. Interannual variability and a comparison between observation-based and modelled estimates for various productivity related variables has been published in 2008 in Biogeoscience (5: 597-614). A second focus of the analysis was on century scale change in global warming simulations; results have been documented and written-up for the peer reviewed literature.

2. Development of end-to-end ecosystem models
Identifying modelling gaps: EUR-OCEANS reviewed the existing end-to-end models, in order to identify modelling gaps (paper published in 2007 in Progress in Oceanography, 75:751-770).
Making new tools available for ecosystem oceanography: A major output of EUR-OCEANS was to show the synergy between overexploitation and climate change in impacting the exploited marine resources, and demonstrate that full (two-way) coupling of low and high trophic level models, along with the inclusion of key species involved in potential alternative pathways, improves models abilities to reproduce observed patterns and produce scenarios of responses to global change. One notable EUR-OCEANS end-to-end modelling effort consisted in the coupling of (1) the physical ocean general circulation model NEMO which simulates ocean physics and dynamics, (2) the biogeochemical model PISCES which models the biogeochemical processes including two phytoplankton and two zooplankton size-classes (Aumont and Bopp, 2006) and, (3) the ecosystem model APECOSM (Apex Predators ECOSystem Model; Maury et al., 2007), a recent spatially explicit size-based model of open-ocean ecosystems describing the flow of energy through the ecosystem from zooplankton to fish. Another significant achievement was the two-way coupling (by a EUR-OCEANS funded PhD student) of a ROMS–N2P2Z2D2 low trophic level model ((Koné et al., 2005) and the OSMOSE, individual and size-based high trophic level model (Shin et al., 2004). The following 2005-2008 indicators attest to the impacts of EUR-OCEANS on its research sector:
- Number of funded joint proposals in response to EC FP6/7 calls: 7
- Number of workshops/summer schools in co-operation with IMBER and GLOBEC: 40
- Number of other international co-operative actions, including USA and Canada: 4
- Number of co-tutored PhD thesis: 21 EUR-OCEANS sensu stricto + 300 co-tutored by PIs
- Number of international symposia: 3

C. The EUR-OCEANS Consortium
The final step of the EUR-OCEANS NOE toward the achievement of lasting integration of European research organisations on global change and pelagic marine ecosystems was the creation of a virtual multi-site institute called the “EUR-OCEANS Consortium”. Founded in Brest on 12 July 2008, the consortium is devoid of legal identity and relies on the institutional commitment and in-cash and in-kind contributions of its members; it is based on the principle of subsidiarity and was conceived as a centre of initiative to favour the coordination of cooperative actions among major European players in marine sciences. So far 25 Member Organisations from 14 countries have joined it as core members. The scientific coordination and executive direction of the consortium has been entrusted to IRD. Activities are developed under the scientific perspective of “building scenarios for marine ecosystems under anthropogenic and natural forcing in the XXI Century”, notably through competitive programmes for Foresight Workshops, Conferences and Flagships (i.e., joint programmes of activities) targeting hot topics such as submesoscale processes and ecosystem dynamics, rapid change in polar systems, and approaches to develop ecosystem / socio-economic scenarios under global change.