Worldwide the sea is considered a driving force for economic growth. Therefore, one of the biggest challenges for today's society is to ensure a balanced exploitation allowing for growth in marine industries but with minimum impacts, securing healthy seas for future generations. A key to success is the availability of methods and tools that can provide precise quantitative knowledge about the status of the sea and accurate assessment of effects and consequences of human pressures to allow for optimal use of the marine environment. Development of such tools is the goal of SeaStatus.
SeaStatus will exploit the potential of combining novel and traditional measurement techniques with ecosystem modelling to improve the information basis for decision-making. New routines for standardisation, integration and processing of large and differentiated data sets are required in order to extract the embedded information and integrate this into model-based decision support tools. Applying a broad range of classical and new statistical analyses, rooted in data mining and big data analytics, as well as grey-box and mechanistic modelling approaches, we will develop a framework for improved real-time description and predictions of the marine environment. The focus on adaptive management and easily accessible models that provide estimates of uncertainties and allow for risk assessments is new in ecosystem management.
The aim of SeaStatus is to develop a range of decision support tools for intelligent marine ecosystem management allowing for optimal use of marine resources at minimum impact. This is achieved by combining novel and traditional measurement techniques and data processing algorithms with models allowing for a continuous updating of the environmental status and improving the information basis for management. SeaStatus will develop ICT tools for consultants and environmental managers that continuously integrate knowledge on ecosystem processes with observations. Hence, SeaStatus will contribute to a paradigm shift for optimal ecosystem management to the benefit of society, and strengthen the international competitiveness of Danish consultants.
The overarching innovative concept of SeaStatus is the integrative exploitation of the increasing amount of new environmental data-rich sources like on-line sensors, remote sensing, ferry-box data and underwater imaging with ecosystem knowledge and modelling. Presently, such technologies exist but routines for standardisation and integration into management tools are still lacking. However, applying a broad range of classical and new statistical analyses, rooted in data mining and big data analytics, as well as environmental modelling approaches (grey-box/mechanistic), we will develop a framework for improved real-time description and predictions of the marine environment. Adaptive management tools, using easily accessible models with estimates of uncertainties and allowing for risk assessments, are new in marine ecosystem management.
SeaStatus addresses the entire value chain from data acquisition, quality assurance, data integration and assimilation (DA) and embeds the developed methods into robust ICT tools (data processing & integration, modelling) readily available for consultants and authorities for new EIA services and efficient and sustainable ecosystem management tools, products and services, which are unavailable today.
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Today, DHI is the world leader within marine software solutions and covers about 50% of the global commercial marine software market. However, that position is constantly challenged - open source and free software is expanding and new products are needed to enable DHI to continue the software development and increase market shares. Furthermore, ecosystem modelling is by far much less widespread. Most commonly, ecosystem modelling is carried out by universities/experts and not by consultants. Much has been achieved in ecosystem modelling, but we have not yet succeeded in bringing advanced ecosystem modelling to the market.
Applied ecosystem modelling is an important part of DHI’s services carried out for private and public customers, or in partnerships with other Danish consultants. This service, either as part of an EIA or as part of setting targets for e.g. national legislation relys on high quality data and models. Hence, DHI has a multi-sided interest in SeaStatus: Strengthening our software, increasing the use of ecosystem modelling and developing new business opportunities combining high quality data and access to state-of-the-art models. Alone, DHI does not possess the skills to obtain this opportunity, but the team does.
Being a technical university, it is our interest to collaborate with industry to promote growth and bring our research and knowledge into action. Our main contribution in SeaStatus lies within statistics and data analysis with primary focus on grey‐box modelling, computational statistics, image analysis and machine learning. Over the decades, DTU Compute has had an extremely good track record of identifying and transforming needs in society into a relevant mathematical and statistical framework. In turn, this delivers the necessary feedback to perform and evaluate implementations in situ.
In general, DTU Compute wishes to provide a better understanding of how information from qualitatively different sources of data can be used for estimation in grey‐box models, sparse models and image/spatial models derived from first principles, thereby contributing to better quantification of the marine status and associated uncertainty. We find that understanding the uncertainty associated with model results is essential for decision makers. Given the large involvement from end users, we see this project as an obvious opportunity.
The research carried out at the department of Bioscience at Aarhus University spans all biological levels from genes, processes, populations to ecosystems and includes both fundamental and applied research within marine ecology. AU Bioscience is in charge of the national marine monitoring programme and of the marine topic centre with responsibility for the assessment of monitoring data on estuaries, coastal and open waters on behalf of the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food. Analysis, modelling and interpretation of large amounts of marine data are important components of the services carried out at the department as part of our research and consultancy services. SeaStatus explores new marine monitoring technologies in combination with sophisticated modelling tools, which will ensure that AU Bioscience maintains a leading role as experts on the status, evolvement and restoration of marine ecosystems, which are key research topics at AU Bioscience supported by ongoing national and international projects and collaboration.
The perception of earth observation (EO) as a valuable source of information on the environmental state is increasing as the quality of services and products based on EO is improving. The new ESA satellite family (the Sentinels) will further strengthen and accelerate this development and we see a big market potential arising from the Sentinels. Several challenges still exist when analysing marine patterns, trends and assessing the associated uncertainties. Relevant questions in that context are: how can we exploit this ever-increasing amount of data and increase the knowledge of the marine environment in both time and space? How can we integrate EO data with other data types to support ecosystem management based on the best available knowledge base?
We see multiple uses of marine EO observations, but the total value of both data and services will increase significantly when EO data is combined with other data types at different scales and precision. Through SeaStatus, data mining and machine learning techniques will support this additional value creation, and be an important element in our future business development providing integrated data for use in both EIAs and in support for e.g. EU directives such as WFD and MSFD.
EIA services are an important part of COWIs consulting business, both in Denmark and internationally. However, today EIAs are competing on price more than quality, why we need to re-think and re-organise if market shares shall be maintained or even increase. When SeaStatus develops high-level status/baseline data, uncertainty estimates and model services based on state-of-the-art ecosystem models, the long-term perspectives are extremely valuable to our future business development, as the service palette provided by COWI can be increased qualitatively. Hence, we can enhance and expand a competitive position.
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The resulting improved EIA toolbox, a toolbox that will be available through e.g. DHI’s software and data service, will contribute to prepare tomorrow’s EIAs that are expected to require advanced assessments (e.g. new EU Directive). The national scene will profit from such a development, but it is of key importance that Danish environmental consultants can provide international front edge services in order to win marked shares.
In 2014, a new EIA Directive was adopted. This directive stresses that data and information included should be complete and of sufficiently high quality. Furthermore, the EIAs should take into account the environmental protection objectives from other EU directives (WFD, MSFD). To ensure this, it is necessary to use state-of-the-art tools and methods to determine correct baselines and assessments of impacts.
A challenge for a consultant like Rambøll is, in this context, to give a full and correct description of the baseline, while also focusing on the environmental protection objectives for a given area, at a competitive price. Monitoring data can be sparse, not always providing a sufficient picture of baseline scenarios, or un-focused in relation to environmental protection objectives for a given area. Another challenge is the increasing need for proof of certainty of impact assessments.
Rambøll wants to be part of designing new approaches that increase the knowledge base to meet the new directive without increasing costs. SeaStatus will support this and eventually decrease the uncertainties in the impact assessments by focusing the baseline descriptions and the assessments to fit the site-specific environmental protection objectives.
As ecosystem management authority, the EPA has a profound interest in all methods and tools that can increase the certainty of both the actual water body status and impact predictions due to management strategies as part of EU directives.
In Denmark, huge focus is on differentiated regulation of e.g. the agricultural production – however, differentiated regulation requires tools and services that do not exist today. Huge effort has been put into setting differentiated targets and evaluating the specific effect on e.g. nutrient reductions, but how to include and deal with uncertainties in both status and predictions is still to be resolved. The societal impact, in especially rural areas, of over-implementation is significant, whereas doing too little will not make Denmark fulfil EU obligations.
Similarly, each EIA we have to assess and accept needs to be founded on the best available tools. If in doubt potential investments in production or infrastructures might be delayed. Hence, we see large potentials in SeaStatus, as an observation and EIA platform, and we expect to get in-depth knowledge and understanding of the tools behind, and will work to ensure that the quality fulfils the requirements we have as the environmental authority.
At the DRD we are concerned with projects defined by the Ministry of Transport and Buildings. Continuously new large infrastructure projects, or ideas for projects, are politically formulated, and these projects call for high-level EIAs to ensure that the most cost-effective solutions are developed in accordance with the present marine ecosystems. Recently, we have e.g. issued EIAs on sand extraction for projects like the new bridge at Storstrøm, the Copenhagen tunnel, a new train connection in Vejle Fjord and for the near future the Ministry has formulated a number of strategic projects like the Kattegat Link or the 3rd Link in Lillebælt.
Hence, we have a profound interest in understanding the best possible EIA tools available – and be part of designing the further development of those tools to ensure that project progress takes the environment into account. From experience, we know that even short delays can have a significant economic impact, both in direct costs of the delays but also due to lost societal gain from these projects. We have an on-going need for EIAs and today we are very dependent on few consultants. We will, however, welcome an increased competition on some EIAs, a competition that can be the outcome of SeaStatus.
As ecosystem management authority, MST has a profound interest in all methods and tools that can increase the certainty of both the actual status of the different water bodies and impact predictions due to management strategies as part of EU directives (like WFD and MSFD).
In Denmark, huge focus is on differentiated regulation of the agriculture and aquaculture production – however, differentiated regulation requires tools and services that do not exist today. Huge effort has been put into setting differentiated targets and evaluating the specific effect on e.g. nutrient reductions, but how to include and deal with uncertainties in both status and predictions is still to be resolved. The societal impact, in especially rural areas, of over-implementation is significant, whereas doing too little will not make Denmark fulfil EU obligations.
Similarly, each EIA we have to assess and accept needs to be founded on the best available tools. If in doubt potential investments in production or infrastructures might be delayed with economic losses as a consequence. Hence, we see large potentials in SeaStatus, as an observation platform as well as a platform for high-level EIAs, and we expect to get in-depth knowledge and understanding of the tools behind, and will work to ensure that the quality fulfils the requirements and needs we have as the environmental authority.