HiSea featured in Malta Winter School for Blue Growth in vulnerable coastal regions

HiSea coordinator Dr. Ghada El Serafy of Deltares and Lőrinc Mészáros (Deltares) gave an in-depth presentation on the project, which is funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 platform, as part of their contribution to the curriculum of the Malta International Winter School 2020 “Oceanography and the Blue Economy”.

In their presentation on the HiSea project, High-Resolution Copernicus-based Information Services at Sea, they noted that the project aims primarily to benefit end-users in the port and aquaculture sectors, by providing them high-resolution information on marine water quality.

HiSea services are being co-designed with such users, in order to help them improve operations, planning and management at sea. Other sectors expected to benefit are the sciences and the general public. They also looked at methods and approaches for developing Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service (CMEMS) downstream.

HiSea coordinator Dr. Ghada El Serafy of Deltares
HiSea coordinator Dr. Ghada El Serafy of Deltares gave an in-depth presentation on HiSea Project, at Malta Winter School 2020

El Serafy and Deltares’ 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.

El Serafy and Mészáros also provided instruction on related concepts, such as monitoring and data science, and held practical sessions on the IT tools utilized in the HiSea project, coastal modelling with Delft3D and Delft3D FM, remote sensing data processing, and use of the related Horizon2020 ODYSSEA platform. 

The winter school, which focused on oceanographic data exploration, elaboration and product creation for Blue Growth, targeted small island states, vulnerable communities and coastal areas around globe. Participants were high-level professional officials from Tonga, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Seychelles, Namibia, Mauritius, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Barbados, and the African Union.

The intense study session was held January 8-14, 2020, and organised by the Commonwealth Small States Centre of Excellence (SSCOE) and the University of Malta’s Physical Oceanography Research Group, with the collaboration of Copernicus, CMEMS, EMODNET, ODYSSEA, Deltares, and the Democritus University of Thrace (DUTH), among others.

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.”

Participants received training empowering them to source, interpret and merge available data, and to consolidate and experience the key skills needed to transform data into knowledge and added value products for marine economic development. This was done in line with the strategic objective of the Commonwealth Small States Centre of Excellence: to provide opportunities for capacity-building and capacity-development specifically targeting mid-career public officers in the capitals of the participating countries.

The themes were specifically chosen to contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 14 (Life Below Water) and Sustainable Development Goal 17 (Partnerships for the Goals), within the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“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.”

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.