Four Decades of Marine Monitoring in Belgium



Four Decades of Marine Monitoring in Belgium
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In the Belgian part of the North Sea, modern oceanography started with ‘Projet Mer/Projekt Zee’ in 1970 followed by other research projects, programs and monitoring campaigns, resulting in a large set of valuable historical data. The 4DEMON project aims to digitise and make this data publically available.

The Belgian scientific community has, over the last four decades, built up considerable expertise in marine sciences. Numerous scientific expeditions at sea have resulted in a vast quantity of scientific data and important publications in the scientific literature about the marine environment of the Belgian part of the North Sea. Many valuable, historical data however still remain inaccessible to the broader scientific community, being available only on paper in various institutions. These sources are essential for understanding long-term changes in the quality of the marine environment. The 4DEMON project (“4 decades monitoring”) aims to centralise, integrate and exploit data on contamination, eutrophication and ocean acidification compiled during expeditions in the Belgian waters over the last forty years, forming an important Belgian scientific heritage. The overall coordination of the project is entrusted to the Belgian Marine Data Centre of our OD Nature. The project is funded by BELSPO and partners are the Flanders Marine Institute VLIZ, the Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research  ILVO, the laboratory of Protistology & Aquatic Ecology of Ghent University and the Chemical Oceanography Unit of the University of Liège.

So far nearly 1,000 data sources, ranging from cruise reports to original data listings, have been inventorised. Several of these have already been digitised.

The project 4DEMON was presented by K. De Cauwer at the Scientific Conference on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the opening of the IOC Project Office for IODE in Ostend, 16 March 2015.

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