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EMB Spring Plenary 2016

Highlights from Sopot

The EMB Spring Plenary convened on 27-28 April in Sopot, Poland. The meeting, hosted by the Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IO PAN), brought together 24 EMB delegates as well as guests from the University of Malta, IO PAN, EurOcean, EuroMarine, POGO and the EMB Communications Panel. Open session talks were presented by Janusz Pempkowiak and Ksenia Pazdro (Director and vice-Director of IO PAN), Jan Seys (EMB Communications Panel), Patrizio Mariani (DTU Aqua), Ned Dwyer (EurOcean) and Karen Wiltshire (POGO). Young researchers from IO PAN provided flash presentations on their current research, covering the tracking of Harmful Algal Blooms in the Baltic Sea, responses of Arctic benthic biomass to climate change, and the characterization of dissolved organic matter in the European Arctic. The Spring Plenary evening lecture focused on tidal glaciers as refuges for cold water fauna in a warming Arctic and was presented by Jan Marcin Węsławski, senior scientist at the Department of Ecology, IO PAN.

Jan Mees, EMB Chair, opened the Spring Plenary, welcoming EMB delegates and guests to Sopot and thanking Slawomir Sagan, the EMB member representing the host organization, the Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The Institute was founded in 1983 as the successor to the Marine Station of the Academy, in existence in Sopot since 1953.

Key Decisions on New Activities

The topic of ocean governance was approved by the Board as the focus for EMB's 6th Forum. In addition, a new activity on marine ecosystem modelling was approved. This Working Group will be shaped over the coming months.

New EMB Publications

Spring Plenary participants received two EMB publications. Read about the wide spectrum of activities undertaken by the EMB in 2015, bridging the gap between research, policy, industry and society, in EMB’s 2015 Annual Report. Members also received a copy of The Ocean Climate Nexus Consensus Statement, finalized immediately after EMB’s last plenary meeting prior to the COP21 climate change talks. The statement outlines the key priorities for ocean research in the context of global change. Both of these publications are available to download from the EMB website.

Plenary Open Session Presentations

Janusz Pempkowiak (Director of IO PAN)
Ksenia Pazdro (vice-Director of IO PAN)
Janusz Pempkowiak (Director of IO PAN) welcomed EMB delegates, invited speakers and guests to the Institute of Oceanology and to Sopot. He summarized the wide range of research activities carried out at the Institute by its 188 employees, with a focus on the geographical area of the Baltic and the European Arctic. He noted that the previous director was the Institute’s first representative of EMB, prior to its present delegate, Slawomir Sagan.
Ksenia Pazdro (vice-Director of IO PAN) continued with a presentation of IO PAN’s research activities. IO PAN was founded in Sopot in 1983 as the successor to the Marine Station of the Academy. Ksenia explained that the Institute’s funding comes from a range of sources including the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the National Science Centre and the National Centre for Research and Development; through participation in European Union projects; through the Polish-Norwegian research programme and; through bilateral contracts with other institutions, for example, in the US & Canada.

The strategic directions of the Institute’s activities comprise: the role of the oceans in climate change and its effects on European seas; the natural and anthropogenic variability of the Baltic Sea environment; the contemporary changes in the coastal ecosystems of shelf seas and; the genetic and physiological mechanisms of the functioning of marine organisms and principles of marine biotechnology. Fieldwork is carried out in the Baltic and European Arctic Seas and the Institute’s research activities are organized across 22 laboratories in 6 departments covering physical oceanography, physics, ecology, chemistry and biochemistry, pollution and genetics.

The Institute also takes part in a range of educational and dissemination activities, including the Institute’s quarterly marine science journal ‘OCEANOLOGIA’, Sopot Science Day, cooperation with secondary schools, and producing guides and ecologically-themed storybooks.

Dr. Pazdro also described IO PAN’s research vessel, s/y Oceania which was built in 1985 and recently renovated in 2010. The s/y Oceania takes part in about 14 research cruises and 250 sailing days per year. Examples of research carried out in the Arctic include the investigation and mathematical modelling of the exchange of mass and radiant energy in the atmosphere-seawater system and the investigation of thermohaline circulations in European Arctic seas and the Arctic Ocean. Research carried out in the Baltic includes the investigation and modelling of Baltic inflows; investigations of anthropogenic pollution of the Baltic Sea including emerging contaminants and; the use of remote sensing data to develop monitoring systems for the Baltic. Ksenia concluded her presentation by reminding the audience that further information on the Baltic Sea can be found on IO PAN’s webpage.
Jan Seys (EMBCP)
Jan Seys, Chair of the EMBCP (European Marine Board Communications Panel),  continued the plenary open session by stating that he was here to ‘cause a CommOCEAN’, referring to the acronym for the 2nd International Marine Science Communication Conference, due to take place on 6-7 December in Bruges, with an additional training day in Ostende on 8 December. Jan explained that CommOCEAN 2016 will be about both marine science and marine science communication, considering the importance of both. Therefore, the conference targets marine scientists, communicators, policy-makers and NGOs. The organizing committee (VLIZ, EMB, EMBCP, CIIMAR and IODE/UNESCO) is planning an exciting programme that incorporates plenary keynotes, oral presentations and workshops on a range of marine science and communication topics.

The opening session will focus on what makes the ocean special, and will be followed over the next 2 days by sessions focusing on the fundamentals of science communication; optimising impact; social media & graphics and; new formats & creativity. Scientific plenary keynote speakers will address climate change, ocean plankton including microbiota, deep sea exploration and ocean observation. An exciting social programme is also being planned. Jan encouraged the submission of abstracts for oral presentations, posters and workshops. Abstracts must be submitted by 1 June. He also emphasized that the conference provides an opportunity for holding back to back events and stated that the organizing committee are open to suggestions. Further details can be found on the conference website at Jan’s closing message was ‘Be there!’

Patrizio Mariani (DTU Aqua)
Ned Dwyer (EurOcean)
Patrizio Mariani (DTU Aqua) presented the activities of EuroMarine in a talk titled, ‘EuroMarine and perspectives on marine science from genes to ecosystems.’ Patrizio explained that EuroMarine takes a bottom-up approach, mainly dealing with single labs and researchers, in promoting integrated and multidisciplinary methods to address global challenges in the marine environment. The network was launched in 2014, as a result of merging 3 former European networks: EUR-OCEANS; MarBEF and; Marine Genomics Europe. Initially launched with 42 member organizations, the EuroMarine network now comprises 72 member organizations. Sustained by its membership fees, EuroMarine supports scientific activities across a broad range of disciplines. The overall purpose of the network is to identify and develop emerging scientific topics and associated methodologies, foster new services and advocate to improve the science-governance interface.

Patrizio continued by outlining EuroMarine’s 3 main challenges and priority areas, namely: understanding marine ecosystems for healthy oceans under global/climate change; building scenarios for marine socio-ecological systems under changing oceans and; marine science as a provider of new concepts for innovation and technology.To support these areas, each year EuroMarine launches competitive calls for proposals to carry out activities such as foresight workshops, working groups and training. In the future, EuroMarine will continue to focus on the identification of future science priorities, providing new perspectives and engaging with other marine networks. He concluded his presentation by emphasizing that EuroMarine provides opportunities for training and innovation and supports curiosity-driven research to identify knowledge gaps in marine science from genes to ecosystems in a changing world. Finally, he encouraged applications for funding through EuroMarine.

Ned Dwyer (EurOcean) provided an overview of EurOcean in a talk titled, ‘EurOcean-adding value to information on marine science and technology.’ EurOcean was officially founded in 2002 as an initiative of Ifremer (the French Research Institute for Exploitation for the Sea) and FCT (Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia). As a network of member organizations, today EurOcean comprises 13 full members and 3 cooperating members.

Ned summarized EurOcean’s core work areas as follows:
Marine research infrastructures: EurOcean maintains the largest marine research infrastructures database in Europe. The public database, available via the EurOcean website, is divided into 6 main categories of information and includes information on >300 research vessels and underwater vehicles.
Marine knowledge: EurOcean also have a knowledge management database containing all marine projects funded in Europe and their results, as well as associated information such as the institutions involved and the types of marine research being done. This publicly available database identifies what organizations are doing what types of marine research and where funding is being directed in Europe.
Outreach and communication: Ocean outreach is also a focus for EurOcean. A core activity is the Mario Ruivo Prize, targeted at 11 – 16 year olds and requires having an idea to raise awareness of the ocean. The theme of the 2016 competition is: Your Ocean, Your Future and the prize is seed money to assist with the activity. Other outreach activities EurOcean is involved in is talking to school groups about ocean activities, taking part in European Maritime Day, promoting Blue Society through the Sea for Society project and doing marine communication activities as part of European projects.
Karen Wiltshire (POGO) presented an introduction to POGO-Towards global sustained ocean observations. Karen explained that POGO has been in existence since 1999 and was formed as a result of discussions between institute directors on human capacity and ocean observation. Based on these discussions, POGO emerged as a consortium of major oceanographic institutes around the world, represented by their directors and currently comprises 37 members in 20 countries. POGO’s vision is to have in place by 2030, world-wide cooperation for a sustainable, state of the art global ocean observing system that serves the needs of science and society. POGO’s new strategy, ‘Taking the Pulse of the Global Ocean’ was recently launched on 24 January at a press conference in Tokyo, reflecting POGO’s mission to: lead innovation and development of the crucial components of the ocean observing system; identify and contribute to the development of the key skills, capabilities and capacities needed to achieve the vision and; work with governments, foundations and industry, to articulate the benefits to society and required funding to build and sustain the system.

Karen outlined the 3 pillars of POGO, which comprise the promotion of ocean observations, capacity building and influencing policy. POGO has promoted ocean observations through the support of the world expansion of Argo floats, which now number over 3000 around the world’s ocean as well as through the funding of working groups. In addition, POGO has a training portfolio providing opportunities for scientists from developing countries to receive training in the world’s leading oceanographic institutions, providing training courses in developing countries and supporting existing initiatives in developing countries. Currently, POGO is in the process of developing an ocean-training portal. Karen concluded her presentation with the message that now is the time to redouble our efforts and once more set our sights on building a truly comprehensive global ocean observing system.


EMB Science Activity Updates

The video of EMB’s 5th Forum (The Ocean-Climate Nexus: The Critical Role of Ocean Science in Responding to Climate Change) which took place in the European Parliament on 21 October 2015 was played for the plenary audience. In addition, a number of follow-up events were summarized including the EMB’s participation in Oceans Day of COP21 and a presentation at the European Parliament SEARICA (Seas, Rivers, Islands & Coastal Areas) Intergroup Meeting in October 2015. A recording of the live-streamed event and all follow-up activities are available on the EMB 5th Forum website

Also included were updates on EMB’s newest working group, ‘Advancing Citizen Science for Seas and Ocean Research’ which held its kick-off meeting in Ostende in February and deliverables completed for the Horizon 2020 Sea Change project on Ocean Literacy, as well as updates on a joint initiative between EMB and EuroGOOS to promote and advance a European Ocean Observing System (EOOS).

A 3 minute summary video of EMB's 5th Forum, The Ocean-Climate Nexus: The Critical Role of Ocean Science in Responding to Climate Change

Flash Presentations by Early Career Researchers from the Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

From left to right: Anna Raczkowska, Mikolaj Mazurkiewicz, Marta Konik

Three early-career researchers from the Institute of Oceanology impressed EMB delegates and guests with presentations on their research. Marta Konik began with her research on tracking Harmful Algal Blooms, which occur in the Baltic Sea each Summer. Marta summarized the strengths and weaknesses of using satellite sensors in the context of local Baltic conditions including persistent cloud cover, complex waters and the fact that the Baltic Sea is surrounded by land.

Mikolaj Mazurkiewicz continued the session with his investigations into the responses of Arctic benthic biomass size spectra to climate change, using marine invertebrates collected from fjords. Mikolaj’s research is based on the prediction that declining size is the 3rd universal response to climate change (the others being phenology and species distributions).

Anna Raczkowska presented her research on the characterization of chromophoric and fluorescent Dissolved Organic Matter (DOM) in the European Arctic. One of the conclusions of Anna’s research to date, from the analysis of water samples collected in the Nordic Seas, is that phytoplankton biomass is an important source of the protein-like fraction of DOM in the Nordic Seas which are under the influence of warm Atlantic waters.

Spring Plenary Evening Lecture
Jan Marcin Węsławski (IO PAN)
Jan Marcin Węsławski (Department of Ecology, IO PAN) gave the Spring Plenary evening lecture, titled ‘Tidal glaciers-refugia for cold water fauna in a warming Arctic’. Jan Marcin began by posing the question, that considering the rapid melting of glaciers, do organisms have refuges? He described the habitat forming role of tidal glaciers and explained that glacial bays have a distinct microplankton composition. He also described the increase in plankton biomass close to glacier cliffs and that there is a distinct ‘near glacier’ fauna. In fact, glaciers are considered wildlife hotspots because of the many animals that feed near them including kittiwakes, ringed seals, bearded seals and white whales. Therefore, the impacts of glacial retreat are concerning. Jan Marcin concluded his talk with his hopes that tidal glaciers can serve as a ‘Noah’s Ark’ to carry cold water species through this period of global warming.
Thanks for being part of the EMB Spring Plenary 2016
Copyright © 2016 European Marine Board, All rights reserved.

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