SOCIB participates in a new European Research Project on the Black Sea

  • The DOORS project will seek to develop an optimised open research support system to tackle Europe's most polluted sea.
  • It will bring together expertise and technology from 37 institutions from the Black Sea region and other European countries, including SOCIB.
  • This is the first time that SOCIB has engaged in a project in the Black Sea.

SOCIB participates in a new European Research Project on the Black Sea. Photo: Dan Borzan.

Black Sea. Photo: Dan Borzan. 

The Black Sea, bordered by Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine, has a wealth of biodiversity and wildlife, yet, according to researchers, it is widely considered as Europe’s most polluted sea. Research indicates the amount of marine litter floating in the Black Sea, per square Kilometre, is double that of the Mediterranean Sea. Decades of agricultural waste dumping such as fertilisers has caused extensive eutrophication–the process whereby the resulting algal blooming starves the water of oxygen–. Fish stocks and marine species diversity are under severe threat as water quality deteriorates to such an extent that many speculate whether the Black Sea might become the first major sea devoid of life. These environmental changes have also led to social and economic changes within the Black Sea Basin, which in turn impact the ecosystem.

To tackle it, the research project DOORS (‘Developing Optimal and Open Research Support for the Black Sea’) is aiming to link science, policy, and industry for critical Black Sea regeneration. DOORS brings together expertise and technology from 37 institutions from the Black Sea region and other European countries, including the Balearic Islands Coastal Observing and Forecasting System (SOCIB), to address the human and climate change impacts on damaged ecosystems. Led by GeoEcoMar from Romania, DOORS has recently begun to unfold with the celebration of the kick-off meeting on June 29 and will run until 31 May 2024. The project represents an important step forward from the very successful PERSEUS project in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, conducted from 2011 to 2014.

Funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation with a total budget of 9 Million Euros, the project aims to develop a common framework of scientific methods for gathering data. It will provide a system that will bring together ship-based, ocean glider, and remote sensing imagery in situ observations with numerical simulation for building a data integration to understand the complex marine ecosystem of the Black Sea. This system will allow partners to better understand the complex physical and biogeochemical variability, at different temporal and spatial scales, that occurs across the Black Sea. That is where the SOCIB multi-platform observing-modelling approach fits in. As part of the project, SOCIB Glider facility will monitor the physical and biogeochemical processes in the Black Sea using ocean gliders and will furthermore contribute to establishing innovative/smart observations in the Black Sea for sustained biogeochemical monitoring.

Engaging with Black Sea communities

Alongside the integration of scientific knowledge sharing, it is a fundamental objective for DOORS to engage with wider society. By providing mechanisms for business to link with research, DOORS will create new job opportunities for emerging Blue Growth economies through new synergies and mentoring schemes; the first of its kind to be set up in the Black Sea. Key initiatives that engage schools, universities, and general citizens of the region will promote behaviour change and celebrate best practices, influencing future policy, Blue Growth, and the health of Black Sea communities. In this frame, SOCIB will support the process of creating marine Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) situational awareness among communities and societal forums, as well as fostering the international transfer of knowledge and training for future and early scientists and technicians.

“Being engaged in a project in the Black Sea for the first time provides us an unprecedented opportunity to extend SOCIB activities and, through interaction with DOORS-partners, assure that we contribute to implementing a system of systems to harmonise approaches and provide an accessible data repository, as well as to foster knowledge transfer and training to share best practices and build capacity. Thus, reaching state of the art international standards and going one step ahead,” as stated by Joaquín Tintoré, director of SOCIB.

Overall, “DOORS will open a sea of new opportunities to Black Sea communities. For too long our sea has suffered from the combined effects of humans and global changes, but also from the twists of recent history. DOORS will bring the needed knowledge to support the Black Sea recovery – whilst bringing the opportunities of the Industry 4.0 Revolution closer to the people. We hope DOORS will be the game-changer that we have been waiting for,” as remarked Adrian Stanica, DOORS Project coordinator, Director General, GeoEcoMar, Romania.

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