The EU-funded ODYSSEA project, through partners Deltares and Democritus University of Thrace (DUTH), figured centrally both through the lectures and as an important new tool presented to the participants of the Malta International Winter School 2020 “Oceanography and the Blue Economy”.
The intense study session, held January 8-14, 2020, was organised by the Commonwealth Small States Centre of Excellence (SSCOE) and the University of Malta’s Physical Oceanography Research Group.
High-level participants from Barbados, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kiribati, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Tonga, as well as a representative of the African Union, came for the course, which focused on oceanographic data exploration, elaboration and product creation for Blue Growth. Organisers stressed the session’s primary goal of developing “a new culture of professionals that can spread knowledge and skills to achieve excellent performance in favour of Blue Growth.”
“The participants from the Malta International Winter School have dawned to the possibilities that data modelling and satellite imagery applications offer to various small states, from around the Commonwealth (Africa; Pacific region; Caribbean region as well as South East Asia) along with coastal areas,” commented Audrey Zammit, Research Support Officer at the University of Malta’s Physical Oceanography Research Group. “This will aid their decision-making in taking policies decisions with regards to applications such fisheries; aquaculture; coastal zone management plans; marine spatial planning and other ocean-based activities.”
Two full days were dedicated to marine observations and marine modelling, especially through the ODYSSEA project, focusing on presentations and practical sessions led by ODYSSEA coordinator Prof. Georgios Sylaios and Dr. Nikolas Kokkos of DUTH and Prof. Ghada El Serafy and Lőrinc Mészáros of Deltares, imparting ODYSSEA’s approach and tools, alongside Deltares’ Delft3D Flexible Mesh. Integration of Copernicus Marine Service oceanographic monitoring was the focus of a third day.
Sylaios and Kokkos provided training on ODYSSEA in the context of coastal operational observing systems assessments, a practical session on ODYSSEA Platform, an in-depth case-study on applying operational modelling tools in the North Aegean Sea, and the operation of hydrodynamic, wave and biogeochemical models.
El Serafy and Mészáros trained participants on the use of satellite observations for coastal areas and practical implementation of earth observation methods, as well as the use of modelling methods on Maltese islands as an example.
The Malta International Winter School’s organisers shared their vision of an emerging “win-win scenario”, in which “ocean observations for environmental management, for monitoring the health of the marine ecosystem, and for marine safety and surveillance could also serve, in their non-confidential elements, to feed the research and economic sectors for added value and societal benefits at no additional data acquisition costs.”
Another aim of the session was to give participants “a broader perspective on the impact of technological development in the marine and maritime sectors, on how the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, cloud computing and data analytics can provide new approaches to data management and knowledge creation in a smart technology-enabled future,” the organisers noted.