Objectives of ESONET NoE project are numerous and can be separated into categories:
- scientific objectives,
- environmental and security operational objectives,
- technical objectives,
- societal and political objectives and
- objectives of long-term governance.
Oceans exert a pervasive influence on the Earth’s environment, most notably as a regulator of climate. Understanding the link between natural and anthropogenic processes and ocean circulation is essential for predicting the magnitude and impact of future changes in Earth’s climate. In this respect, the knowledge of deep water circulation close to the seafloor (i.e. water currents at the Benthic Boundary Layer) is a fundamental objective. More generally, understanding the interactions between ocean, biosphere and geosphere (lithosphere and solid earth below), leading to natural hazards (e.g. tsunami, seismicity or submarine landslides) or environmental changes (e.g. sea-level, ecosystem changes, greenhouse gas budget) is one of the main scientific challenges for the next few decades.
Carbonated chimneys on Lost City hydrothermal site (Mid-Atlantic ridge) - Exomar Campaign (2005). © Ifremer
Environmental and security operational objectives
In environmental and security operational context, principal objectives are the comprehension and prevention of seismic and tsunami hazards, the development of physical oceanography and the registration of time series data to enhance ocean monitoring and forecasting.
The technology of deep water scientific cabled observatories is still at its infancy. This situation is contrasted by the fact that deep sea exploration led by the hydrocarbon industry is now mature and industrial products and services are readily available. Taking advantage of the state of the art through cooperation with engineering underwater R&D actors and cooperation with leading companies in this field, ESONET will facilitate the development and implementation of permanent observation capabilities with high priority for our society.
Societal and political objectives
ESONET will make a significant contribution to the development of a thematic strategy for the protection, conservation and sustainable use of the marine environment.
ESONET will spread scientific excellence and information resulting from its activities in 3 main directions:
- towards the socio-economic users of knowledge regarding the impacts of climate and anthropogenic forcing on continental margin ecosystems,
- to the European industry including SMEs and petroleum/oil industry,
- to governemental bodies.
A complete WorkPackage, WP6, is dedicated to these societal and political objectives.
Objectives of long-term governance
The ESONET NoE is a stepping stone on the way to create an underwater ocean observatory network that will remain in place for decades. The costs and practicalities of sustaining such a network require a concerted approach by the funding agencies of the European countries over a long time period. Estimated costs will not be supplied by one single country or the EU alone; the expertise required to create and manage the observatories lies in more than one country; and the ship time to service and install the equipment requires a combined effort. On the other side, benefits will be shared by all the maritime nations of Europe who will gain better knowledge of geophysical processes and risks, of the seabed environment and natural change.