Given the considerable range of applications within the European Union Copernicus system, sustained satellite altimetry missions are required to address operational, science and societal needs. This article describes the Copernicus Sentinel-6 mission that is designed to provide precision sea level, sea surface height, significant wave height, inland water heights and other products tailored to operational services in the ocean, climate, atmospheric and land Copernicus Services. Sentinel-6 provides enhanced continuity to the very stable time series of mean sea level measurements and ocean sea state started in 1992 by the TOPEX/Poseidon mission and follow-on Jason-1, Jason-2 and Jason-3 satellite missions. The mission is implemented through a unique international partnership with contributions from NASA, NOAA, ESA, EUMETSAT, and the European Union (EU). It includes two satellites that will fly sequentially (separated in time by 5 years). The first satellite, named Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, launched from Vandenburg Air Force Base, USA on 21st November 2020. The satellite and payload elements are explained including required performance and their operation. The main payload is the Poseidon-4 dual frequency (C/Ku-band) nadir-pointing radar altimeter that uses an innovative interleaved mode. This enables radar data processing on two parallel chains the first provides synthetic aperture radar (SAR) processing in Ku-band to improve the received altimeter echoes through better along-track sampling and reduced measurement noise; the second provides a Low Resolution Mode that is fully backward-compatible with the historical reference altimetry measurements, allowing a complete inter-calibration between the state-of-the-art data and the historical record. A three-channel Advanced Microwave Radiometer for Climate (AMRC) provides measurements of atmospheric water vapour to mitigate degradation of the radar altimeter measurements. The main data products are explained and preliminary in-orbit Poseidon-4 altimeter data performance data are presented that demonstrate the altimeter to be performing within expectations.
Sublittoral rocky reef habitats host important ecological communities in UK waters, but their ecological condition is difficult to monitor. Monitoring methods based on seabed imagery data are prone to inconsistencies in both the identification and enumeration of species, which is a major hurdle in detecting meaningful ecological change. To overcome this problem, our study used a single monitoring dataset, collected using one standard method at the Pisces Reef Marine Protected Area (MPA) in 2016. We identified which method of data extraction from seabed imagery is best able to detect change along a gradient of anthropogenic resuspended sediments, which represents a pressure on the epifaunal community. We modelled the spatial distribution of the pressure, caused by nearby fishing activity, using an approach based on individual Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) ping data, rather than spatially homogenised data aggregated to a grid cell. We found that up to 22% of the biological variability across the three reef areas within the MPA is explained by the measured and derived environmental variables. The response of the epibenthic community at Pisces Reef MPA to the resuspended sediments pressure gradient is masked by commonly used univariate metrics such as species diversity and abundance of individuals. Conversely, a Threshold Indicator Taxa Analysis (TITAN) identifies community-level change caused by a low level of modelled resuspended sediments pressure. We found that a 0.05 decimal degree grid cell of seabed within 1 km of the MPA boundary, swept by demersal fishing gear as little as five times per year on average, can elicit such a community response. The data extraction metric best able to detect this change in the sublittoral rock community is the frequency of occurrence of taxa in images with an average field of view of 0.7 m2, using a 25-cell grid. More traditional metrics extracted from seabed imagery, such as raw counts and percentage cover estimates, are less sensitive to detecting such community change. The TITAN also identified taxon-level responses to the pressure gradient that could be considered for future monitoring programmes. The solitary coral genus Caryophyllia and cup-like sponges show a sharp and strong negative response to pressure exposure, and could represent a starting point for a future monitoring programme of UK sublittoral rock habitats. The implications for future monitoring are discussed, including survey design, environmental and biological data collection and improved pressure modelling.
Artificial Reefs (AR) show a wide diversity and vary in their construction materials, shape and purpose, as illustrated by the present analysis of 127 scientific papers. AR have been deployed for different purposes, including fisheries improvement, ecological restoration of marine habitats, coastal protection or purely scientific research. Statistical analyses using 67 variables allow us to characterize the design, objectives and monitoring strategies used for AR. An effectiveness indicator comprised of three categories (low, moderate and high) was adapted from previous studies and applied to the present dataset in terms of the objectives defined in each scientific paper. The effectiveness of various monitoring approaches was investigated and recommendations were formulated regarding environmental parameters and the assessment of ecological processes as a function of AR type. These analyses showed that inert materials like concrete associated with biomimetic designs increase the benefits of reefs to the local environment. This study also compared effectiveness between the different economic, ecological or scientific objectives of AR projects and reveals that fisheries projects showed the highest efficiencies but points out the weakness of environmental assessments for this type of project. In conclusion, the analyses presented here highlight the need to use a panel of complementary monitoring techniques, independently of the initial purpose of the artificial structures, to properly assess the impact of such structures on the local environment. It is recommended to adopt approaches that associate structural and functional ecology. An improved characterization of the role of AR should be integrated into future assessments, taking into account the complex framework of ecosystem structure and trophic relationships.
Coastal zone management is a pressing matter, especially in developing countries, which are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Human systems are underrepresented in the vast array of indicators aimed at assisting coastal zone management decisions. Clearly, there is room to better capture natural and human system relationships and interactions in coastal area assessments. A case in point is the well-known Coastal Hazard Wheel (CHW). Hence three main objectives guide this paper: (i) Analysing the existing set of indicator themes and categories in coastal areas; (ii) Contrasting this set of indicators with the perceived needs of local coastal stakeholders from a developing country; and (iii) Proposing indicator categories to be included as part of a systemic coastal zone management framework. To this end, we undertook an automated content analysis of 1116 peer-reviewed articles on the subject matter. The analysis and a stringent set of criteria led to 40 articles that were reviewed to identify suitable indicators. In parallel, field research in Ghana allowed for a set of indicators from the quadruple helix stakeholders operating in coastal zones to be elicited. Contrasting the two sets of indicators resulted in three situations. The first involves 14 indicator categories that co-occur in the literature and the detected needs from local coastal stakeholders. In the second situation, the categories mentioned in the literature were those not mentioned at local level. A third situation appeared when the local coastal stakeholders mentioned categories of indicators that were not identified in the reviewed literature. After examining each case, we advocate for the indicators in the first situation to be incorporated into the current coastal indicator monitoring frameworks (for example by upgrading the CHW). The unique contribution of this paper is the combination of literature and stakeholder-based indicator sub-categories that should be added to the current set of coastal monitoring frameworks.
Monitoring of marine protected areas (MPAs) is critical for marine ecosystem management, yet current protocols rely on SCUBA-based visual surveys that are costly and time consuming, limiting their scope and effectiveness. Environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding is a promising alternative for marine ecosystem monitoring, but more direct comparisons to visual surveys are needed to understand the strengths and limitations of each approach. This study compares fish communities inside and outside the Scorpion State Marine Reserve off Santa Cruz Island, CA using eDNA metabarcoding and underwater visual census surveys. Results from eDNA captured 76% (19/25) of fish species and 95% (19/20) of fish genera observed during pairwise underwater visual census. Species missed by eDNA were due to the inability of MiFish 12S barcodes to differentiate species of rockfishes (Sebastes, n = 4) or low site occupancy rates of crevice-dwelling Lythrypnus gobies. However, eDNA detected an additional 23 fish species not recorded in paired visual surveys, but previously reported from prior visual surveys, highlighting the sensitivity of eDNA. Significant variation in eDNA signatures by location (50 m) and site (~1000 m) demonstrates the sensitivity of eDNA to address key questions such as community composition inside and outside MPAs. Results demonstrate the utility of eDNA metabarcoding for monitoring marine ecosystems, providing an important complementary tool to visual methods.
Recently, new steps have been taken for the development of operational applications in coastal areas which require very high resolutions both in modeling and remote sensing products. In this context, this work describes a complete monitoring of an oil spill: we discuss the performance of high resolution hydrodynamic models in the area of Gran Canaria and their ability for describing the evolution of a real-time event of a diesel fuel spill, well-documented by port authorities and tracked with very high resolution remote sensing products. Complementary information supplied by different sources enhances the description of the event and supports their validation.
Coral bleaching, cyclones, outbreaks of crown-of-thorns seastar, and reduced water quality (WQ) threaten the health and resilience of coral reefs. The cumulative impacts from multiple acute and chronic stressors on “reef State” (i.e., total coral cover) and “reef Performance” (i.e., the deviation from expected rate of total coral cover increase) have rarely been assessed simultaneously, despite their management relevance. We evaluated the dynamics of coral cover (total and per morphological groups) in the Central and Southern Great Barrier Reef over 25 years, and identified and compared the main environmental drivers of State and Performance at the reef level (i.e. based on total coral cover) and per coral group. Using a combination of 25 environmental metrics that consider both the frequency and magnitude of impacts and their lagged effects, we find that the stressors that correlate with State differed from those correlating with Performance. Importantly, we demonstrate that WQ metrics better predict Performance than State. Further, inter-annual dynamics in WQ (here available for a subset of the data) improved the explanatory power of WQ metrics on Performance over long-term WQ averages. The lagged effects of cumulative acute stressors, and to a lesser extent poor water quality, correlated negatively with the Performance of some but not all coral groups. Tabular Acropora and branching non-Acropora were the most affected by water quality demonstrating that group-specific approaches aid in the interpretation of monitoring data and can be crucial for the detection of the impact of chronic pressures. We highlight the complexity of coral reef dynamics and the need of evaluating Performance metrics in order to prioritise local management interventions.
A multitude of anthropogenic pressures deteriorate the Baltic Sea, resulting in the need to protect and restore its marine ecosystem. For an efficient conservation, comprehensive monitoring and assessment of all ecosystem elements is of fundamental importance. The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission HELCOM coordinates conservation measures regulated by several European directives. However, this holistic assessment is hindered by gaps within the current monitoring schemes. Here, twenty-two novel methods with the potential to fill some of these gaps and improve the monitoring of the Baltic marine environment are examined. We asked key stakeholders to point out methods likely to improve current Baltic Sea monitoring. We then described these methods in a comparable way and evaluated them based on their costs and applicability potential (i.e., possibility to make them operational). Twelve methods require low to very low costs, while five require moderate and two high costs. Seventeen methods were rated with a high to very high applicability, whereas four methods had moderate and one low applicability for Baltic Sea monitoring. Methods with both low costs and a high applicability include the Manta Trawl, Rocket Sediment Corer, Argo Float, Artificial Substrates, Citizen Observation, Earth Observation, the HydroFIA®pH system, DNA Metabarcoding and Stable Isotope Analysis.
Surface and sub-surface ocean temperature observations collected by sea turtles (ST) during the first phase (Jan 2019–April 2020) of the Sea Turtle for Ocean Research and Monitoring (STORM) project are compared against in-situ and satellite temperature measurements, and later relied upon to assess the performance of the Glo12 operational ocean model over the west tropical Indian Ocean. The evaluation of temperature profiles collected by STs against collocated ARGO drifter measurements show good agreement at all sample depths (0–250 m). Comparisons against various operational satellite sea surface temperature (SST) products indicate a slight overestimation of ST-borne temperature observations of ∼0.1°±°0.6° that is nevertheless consistent with expected uncertainties on satellite-derived SST data. Comparisons of ST-borne surface and subsurface temperature observations against Glo12 temperature forecasts demonstrate the good performance of the model surface and subsurface (<50 m) temperature predictions in the West tropical Indian Ocean, with mean bias (resp. RMS) in the range of 0.2° (resp. 0.5–1.5°). At deeper depths (>50 m), the model is, however, shown to significantly underestimate ocean temperatures as already noticed from global evaluation scores performed operationally at the basin scale. The distribution of model errors also shows significant spatial and temporal variability in the first 50 m of the ocean, which will be further investigated in the next phases of the STORM project.
The deep ocean is the largest biome on Earth and faces increasing anthropogenic pressures from climate change and commercial fisheries. Our ability to sustainably manage this expansive habitat is impeded by our poor understanding of its inhabitants and by the difficulties in surveying and monitoring these areas. Environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding has great potential to improve our understanding of this region and to facilitate monitoring across a broad range of taxa. Here, we evaluate two eDNA sampling protocols and seven primer sets for elucidating fish diversity from deep sea water samples. We found that deep sea water samples (> 1400 m depth) had significantly lower DNA concentrations than surface or mid-depth samples necessitating a refined protocol with a larger sampling volume. We recovered significantly more DNA in large volume water samples (1.5 L) filtered at sea compared to small volume samples (250 mL) held for lab filtration. Furthermore, the number of unique sequences (exact sequence variants; ESVs) recovered per sample was higher in large volume samples. Since the number of ESVs recovered from large volume samples was less variable and consistently high, we recommend the larger volumes when sampling water from the deep ocean. We also identified three primer sets which detected the most fish taxa but recommend using multiple markers due the variability in detection probabilities and taxonomic resolution among fishes for each primer set. Overall, fish diversity results obtained from metabarcoding were comparable to conventional survey methods. While eDNA sampling and processing need be optimized for this unique environment, the results of this study demonstrate that eDNA metabarcoding can facilitate biodiversity surveys in the deep ocean, require less dedicated survey effort per unit identification, and are capable of simultaneously providing valuable information on other taxonomic groups.