Action #3: Harmonised observations of plankton biomass, diversity and productivity dynamics

Objectives: The English Channel and the southern North Sea are characterised by diverse ecosystems of strong hydrodynamical influence on biogeochemical and biological processes (as primary productivity) and plankton accumulation and dispersion, low to high riverine inputs, and significant connectivity to adjacent sea areas. These two marginal seas are considered as areas of medium to high productivity and recurring phytoplankton blooms (some of them being considered as Harmful Algal Blooms-HABs of the potential impact on marine food webs as well as human health and economy). We aim to harmonise our in situ observation, and data processing to better characterise and understand the drivers of phytoplankton outbursts and community occurrence and changes at the different scales and consequently implement the ecosystem approach monitoring. 

Action Lead and other Partners (with contact persons): CNRS-LOG (Artigas, Lizon), IFREMER (Lefebvre, Wacquet), CEFAS (Creach, Greenwood), Deltares (Blauw), VLIZ (Debusschere, Mortelmans), CNRS-BOREA (Claquin), RBINS (Fettweis), Hereon (Voynova)

JS3 Platforms included: Thalassa (IFREMER), Côtes de la Manche (CNRS), Sepia II (CNRS), Antéa (IRD), RV Cefas Endeavour (CEFAS), Connector (NIVA/RWS), Simon Stevin (VLIZ); Buoys: ASTAN (CNRS), SMILE (IFREMER, CNRS), SCENES (IFREMER), WARP and WEST GABBARD (CEFAS), Thornton (VLIZ); Benthic lander MOW1 (RBINS); Fixed Station MAREL-Carnot (IFREMER); Additional infrastructure: monitoring by R/V. 

Other data sources and external partners for implementation: The collection of phytoplankton biomass, diversity, and productivity data is also carried out outside the framework of automated platforms, with measurements constituting time series along environmental gradients in the eastern Channel. These data are available in national data infrastructures as well physical, chemical, and biogeochemical data. ICES databases, CMEMS products, and EMODnet (biology, physics, and chemistry) data infrastructures will be used if needed. 

Overall timetable of action: Dec 2020 – Aug 2022.

Description of action: The practical work will include:

Workshops (virtual and non-virtual) for:

  1. Discussing the way to implement QA/QC methods at sensor/platform level (spring 2021 and 2022), and to facilitate the data flow to the institutional, national (e.g. ODATIS, MEDIN), or European data infrastructures (SeaDataNet and EMODnet). The discussion will focus mainly on automated flow cytometry, imagery, and multispectral fluorometry (link WP5 and WP6) (CNRS-LOG and all).
  2. Testing new data processing tools and approaches (link to WP7) between partners for improving the data flow and forecasting phytoplankton diversity and outbreaks (IFREMER and all).
  3. Sharing experience for measuring in situ primary production and investigating the use of the data in ecosystem approach monitoring (CNRS-LOG + CNRS-BOREA and all).
    • Determine the added value of the data from emerging technologies in regular assessment for WFD and MSFD (Eutrophication, Biodiversity, Food Web) in combination with other approaches such as modelling and remote sensing (2022, CEFAS and all) (Link to actions # 4 and #8).
    • Participating in common surveys (besides the regular ones) in 2021 and 2022 as a proof of concept for sharing best practices using guidelines from WP5 for emerging technologies (Flow cytometry, imagery, and multi-spectrofluorometry) (VLIZ and all).

Best practices used or developed: We will test, develop and apply our best practices according to dedicated work on WP5.

Data flows: Data will be shared preferably from existing portals, so other partners can download and process the data with automated scripts that can be easily updated in the future. Where this is not feasible, the data files can be shared with other ad-hoc approaches, such as mails or cloud servers. Data flows will follow recommendations from WP6 (particularly subtasks 6.3.1 and 6.3.2 for phytoplankton data). 

Data QC routines: Each institute is responsible for the QC on its own data. The data from emerging technology will follow the discussed and defined QC processes from WP5 (raw data treatment) and WP6 (processed data). Phytoplankton analysis will follow the OSPAR JAMP phytoplankton monitoring guidelines. 

Data management issues: To be discussed in the frame of WP6.

Expected results: A realistic frame of what augmented approaches can be persistently implemented in both the NS and the EC, consolidating national observatories and RIs (as ILICO in France) and establishing lasting regional collaboration in common recurrently joint actions benefiting of the existing platforms and programmes, adding innovative approaches developed during JERICO- NEXT and other previous projects. 

Users of results: OSPAR/MSFD working groups for eutrophication, biodiversity, food web, and ocean acidification, marine researchers, national and European water managers, and the scientific community.

Dissemination of results: actions will take place from January 2021 to August 2022 and the results will be presented in workshops, symposia and will be published; participation in ICES working groups (WGPME, WGHAB).

Links: Link to adjacent PSS (Baltic) and IRS (Bay of Biscay), and other remote PSS and IRS (i.e., with more contrasting conditions and trophic regimes: Iberian Margin (combined upwelling conditions), NW Mediterranean (meso oligotrophic), Northern Adriatic Sea (important blooms) Cretan Sea (oligotrophic) through a workshop on harmonisation of best practices and data management (WP10). Links with WP5 (best practices in biological plankton sensors), WP6 (data management), WP7 (development/improving software tools for automated data treatment and analysis), WP8 & WP11 (TA and VA), WP1 & WP2 (overall strategy and link with environmental management and policies).