Marine Data News Issue 37
December 2017
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In this issue of Marine Data News...

CEFAS use acoustic data to inform Marine Protected Area designation

In order to effectively identify and designate Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s), sufficient data and evidence is required to inform and verify the presence and distribution of habitat features of conservation importance, across the proposed network. An important part of this is the acquisition of high quality bathymetric and backscatter data. These data are required to inform the subsequent placement and collection of associated groundtruth samples, which are brought together in the production of seabed habitat maps.
Left: An example of a rocky reef feature seen in the bathymetry surface
Right:  Associated groundtruth data collection using a drop down camera system.
Cefas have been working in partnership with many organisations to ensure that data are acquired efficiently and according to the principles of ‘collect once, use many times’.  The resulting habitat maps are now available for a seabed bed area more than five times the size of greater London. Cefas use a Kongsberg EM2040 multibeam system to acquire both the bathymetric and backscatter data simultaneously.

The data are used to create high resolution habitat maps, which are used to determine both the type and distribution of conservation features across the MPA network and their associated biological communities.
Left: The bathymetry of the seabed
Right: The corresponding backscatter data.
The example images illustrate the differences between the two data types, the bathymetry shows the depth of the seabed and it’s topography and the backscatter data provides additional information relating to the textural characteristics of the seabed substrata based on the strength of the return signal.
Robots map England's only deep-water Marine Conservation Zone

Marine habitat maps produced using a unique combination of marine robotics and ship-based measurements are being used to inform the management of the only English Marine Conservation Zone in deep water. This new set of maps ranges in scale from the 200km canyon down to the size of an individual cold-water coral polyp, and is the first true three-dimensional picture of submarine canyon habitats. 

The ‘nested maps’ are the result of a recent scientific expedition to the Whittard Canyon in the Bay of Biscay, led by the National Oceanography Centre (NOC). It works in a way not unlike a set of Russian dolls, with the most detailed map sitting within a larger scale one, which sits within a larger map still.

Submarine canyons are some of the most complex deep-sea environments on this planet, and are known to be potential biodiversity hotspots. Similar to canyons on land, submarine canyons can have steep flanks, with vertical cliffs and overhanging rock formations. Until recently these parts were out of reach for traditional types of marine equipment, which made them the ‘forgotten habitats’ of the deep sea. By using unique robot technology to collect data in these ‘hard-to-reach’ areas, the results of this expedition will lead to a better understanding of the biodiversity patterns in the canyon and of the processes that drive them.
Echo-sounders on the RRS James Cook were used to create a 200km map of the canyon with a 50m pixel resolution. Using a newly-developed sideways-directed echo-sounder, the Autosub6000 robot-sub, maintained by the NOC, was able to map vertical walls within the canyon with a resolution of 3-5m per pixel.
At the same time Isis, the NOC-maintained Remotely Operated Vehicle, was lowered from the RRS James Cook on a tether to record high definition video and to collect biological and geological samples from vertical and overhanging locations. Echo-sound data collected with Isis was also used to create the most detailed map of the three, with a resolution of 10-20cm.

The expedition was part of the CODEMAP project, funded by the European Research Council, and received additional support from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) MAREMAP programme and DEFRA. Participants included researchers from NOC, University of East Anglia, University of Southampton, CEFAS, the British Geological Survey, IFREMER, National University of Ireland, Galway, and University of Aveiro.

Best pitch at EMODnet's OpenSeaLab 

The European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet), an initiative to improve access to marine data from more than 100 different organisations, organised the OpenSeaLab hackathon/bootcamp in Antwerp to bring together oceanographers, data managers, computer scientists, and project managers from 15 countries (mainly Europe, but there was also a Canadian contingent) to explore the data and for teams to compete to develop novel applications using marine open data.
Seven teams were formed through a set of ideation sessions, which were designed to provide like-minded delegates with the skills required to see ideas through to a prototype which could be demonstrated at the end of the 3 day event. The Marine Environmental Data and Information Network (MEDIN) sent two  delegates from the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) to the hackathon. Tom Gardner & Chris Wood, worked with three other delegates to develop a web-based application to display ship wrecks on a map, alongside other relevant data.

Users of the website, which was aimed at the leisure diving community, would be able to determine, in real-time, how sensible it would be to visit a particular wreck based on a range of parameters (including depth of the wreck, current water quality, weather, and tide/wave conditions).

Data for the application was sourced from the EMODnet Human Activities catalogue (for wrecks and water quality) and Bathymetry catalogue (for water depth), and from third party providers for the weather and tide/wave conditions. Some of the solutions from teams included an application to determine the most suitable place to cultivate seaweed (which won the overall ‘best product’ prize), an app to identify suitable beaches for a range of tourism activities, and a web-based Environmental Impact Assessment Wizard, aimed at project managers to help them access data at relevant granularity, and within appropriate temporal and spatial ranges. Each team delivered a short presentation about their product, and demonstrated their prototype application to the delegation; following the presentations, the judges awarded the `best pitch` award to our wreck finder.
The range of applications developed in the three days shows the amount of data held in the EMODnet catalogues, and the ease with which the data can be found. However, the EMODnet committee also valued the feedback from the delegates about aspects of the current technical services that both work, and which could be improved. 

It was also an opportunity to highlight the data & metadata catalogues that MEDIN and BODC provide (e.g. the MEDIN portal, the NERC Vocabulary Service, the SeaDataNet catalogues, and their associated web services and SPARQL endpoints), as well as hear about the developments happening at other oceanographic and environmental organisations (academic, Non Governmental Organisations, and commercial) in Europe.
International Marine Data and Informations Systems Conference 
Save the Date!!

The IMDIS 2018 conference will be held in Barcelona at the Auditorium of the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB) from Monday 5 November to Wednesday 7 November 2018. It will be organized by Consejo Superiorior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC), Spain, jointly with IFREMER, OGS, IOC/IODE, in the frame of the SeaDataCloud project (EU H2020 - Grant Agreement 730960).

The IMDIS cycle of conferences aims to provide an overview of the existing information systems to serve a range of users in marine science. It highlights progress on the development of efficient infrastructures for managing large and diverse data sets, standards, interoperable information systems, services and tools for education.

The Conference will present different systems for on-line access to data, meta-data and products, communication standards and adapted technology to ensure platforms interoperability. Sessions will focus on infrastructures, technologies and services for different users including environmental authorities, research institutes, universities, industry and the public.

Abstract submission for oral or poster presentations will be available in January 2018.
Further information will be added to the Conference website at regular intervals.


Bedern Declaration Launch 

The Bedern Group is an alliance of the key agencies concerned with the preservation of the intellectual record of the historic environment of the UK, convened under the auspices of the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) and comprising the Archaeology Data Service, English Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW.)

From left to right: Louisa Matthews (ADS), Gareth Edwards (RCAHMW), Peter McKeague (Historic Environment Scotland), Professor Julian Richards (University of York and Director of the Archaeology Data Service) and Dr Lesley Rickards (BODC).
On 30 November, International Digital Preservation Day, the Group celebrated the launch of the Bedern declaration for digital preservation, at Tanner Row, York. After welcome and introductory speeches, drinks and cake were available together with an opportunity to network. The Archaeology Data Service, Historic Environment Scotland and RCAHMW are components of the MEDIN Historic Environment DAC.

Multibeam Backscatter Layer from British Geological Survey 

The British Geological Survey (BGS) is the MEDIN data archive centre (DAC) for geology, geophysics and backscatter and is proud to announce the addition of a multibeam backscatter layer to their offshore GeoIndex
The offshore GeoIndex shows the range of marine geoscience data held by the BGS, primarily shallow geology and geophysics data collected as part of regional or local mapping activities, or provided by third parties. In addition to viewing the data distribution, it is possible to query, select and export data. These data are available under Open Government Licence (OGL), which states that it may be used freely, subject to the appropriate acknowledgement described within the data download.
A multibeam is primarily used to collect bathymetry data, but a modern day system can also provide backscatter. This is the amount of acoustic energy received back at the multibeam sonar head after being reflected and interacting with the seabed. It is an excellent additional source of information used to map seabed substrate types. A hard surface such as rock will return a stronger/higher intensity than a softer material such as mud.  

The majority of the data were collected and provided through the UK Civil Hydrography Programme (CHP), which is funded and delivered by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). The collection of high resolution CHP data has been undertaken under the ‘Collect once… use many times’ principle, which has enabled significant advances in data coverage and quality to underpin navigation safety, and enabled multiple applications of the datasets for wider, non-safety related uses.
The Backscatter Polygon & Data layer in the offshore GeoIndex shows the outline and basic information about each survey, plus a URL link to download the individual processed backscatter image files (e.g. geotiffs). The data are visualised as a single backscatter ‘mosaic’ dataset, enabling multiple surveys to be displayed at the same time. This mosaic dataset can also be accessed as either a Web Map Service (WMS) or an ESRI Image Service.
The offshore GeoIndex site will be continually updated, notably to include as many surveys from different data providers as possible.

To submit data use one of the following: 
BGS Guidelines

For further information please contact BGS Marine Enquiries (

EMODnet Data Ingestion - the Movie! 

The European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) consists of more than 160 organisations that work together assembling, harmonising, and making marine data, products and metadata more available to a wide range of users. EMODnet Data Ingestion is the latest project, which seeks to identify and to reach out to other potential providers in order to make their data sets also part of the total offer.

A short animation illustrates how EMODnet Data Ingestion works and encourages you to “Wake up your data”.

It aims at streamlining the data ingestion process so that data holders from public and private sectors that are not yet connected to the existing marine data management infrastructures can easily release their data for safekeeping and subsequent distribution through EMODnet. This will enrich the total offer for all types of users and conform to the EMODnet motto 'collect data once and use it many times'.
Two MEDIN DACs (BGS and BODC) are partners in EMODnet Data Ingestion and other MEDIN DACs, sponsors and partners are involved in other EMODnet projects.

18th Biennial Conference of the Challenger Society for Marine Science

Registration is now open for the 18th Biennial Conference of the Challenger Society for Marine Science. Please register here

The conference takes place in Newcastle upon Tyne on the 10th to 13th September 2018. For a list of available sessions, to submit an abstract or check for details and news please visit our website.

We look forward to seeing you in Newcastle upon Tyne in September!

MEDIN Workshops

Free one day workshop on the use of the MEDIN Data Guidelines and MEDIN Discovery Metadata Standard

Upcoming workshops:

24th January, 2018 - The Marine Biological Association, Plymouth
15th March, 2018- The Crown Estate, London

For full information on the workshops, and to register, click here.
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