The Five Regional Operational Oceanographic Systems (ROOS)

When EuroGOOS was formed it established four regional Task Teams. These task teams were formed to work on “test cases” or pilot projects, examining and working through the problems attendant on forming an operational oceanography network in a region.[i] The four areas of special concern for these teams were the Baltic, Arctic, North West Shelf region, and the Mediterranean, with an Atlantic task team established slightly later in the October 1996 meeting of EuroGOOS.[ii]

As the 1996 strategy plan details, the natural and human conditions of these maritime regions differed in many particulars, and the networks associated with each would have to develop along lines suggested by the differing priorities enjoined by the various seas and marine areas, and by the pre-existing infrastructure and resources available for use in the formation of the observation systems.

In the Baltic, the initial focus was primarily on solidifying collaborative arrangements which were already extant, such as the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM), and producing operational forecasts, along with work on combining monitoring systems for sea ice, currents, sea level, waves, and harmful algal blooms.[iii]

The fragility of the Arctic environment led to a strong focus on ecological and environmental monitoring, along with working to combine remote sensing and imaging with some in situ measurements.[iv]

Due to the intense commercial traffic of the North West Shelf area, it was of particular importance for a task team to identify the data and forecasts which would be required by public and private operators in the region.[v] As the GOOS prospectus notes, the North West Shelf area presented a significant difficulty due to open boundaries.[vi]

The Mediterranean task team had an initial focus on developing real time observation and modelling systems to cover the whole sea, with particular focuses on fisheries and flood and pollution management.[vii]

The systematic observation of the Atlantic had a focus on providing boundary conditions for studies of European waters and climate forecasts for Europe.[viii] It was tied to an Atlantic Global Pilot Project due to its cross-continental nature, however this team ceased operation not long into the lifespan of EuroGOOS.[ix] Responsibilities for some of the Atlantic region were afterwards assumed by the newly formed Iberia-Biscay-Ireland ROOS (IBI-ROOS), which recognised a similar need to establish links with “activities in USA, Canada, North Africa and other countries with an interest in the IBI area.”[x] IBI-ROOS had a strong focus on the biological monitoring associated with regional fisheries and aquaculture, along with pollution and disaster monitoring.[xi]

Over time, these Task Teams grew into organisations overseeing operational oceanography in their respective regions, each of them denominated as a ROOS (Regional Operational Oceanographic System). This was primarily a pragmatic step, in the first instance, taken in individual cases, and not a uniform policy at the organisational level. These transitions aimed to facilitate and encourage collaboration from the agencies in member countries through a more stable and coherent operational structure, as in the case of Baltic Operational Oceanographic System (BOOS) and the North West European Shelf Operational Oceanographic System (NOOS), which share much of the same framework material in their memoranda.[xii]

The cross-continental nature and complexity of operations in the Mediterranean required it to become a quasi-separate GRA (though still affiliated with EuroGOOS) to coordinate its activities.[xiii] This Mediterranean Global Ocean Observation System (MedGOOS), as it was initially called, combined African, European, and near-Eastern ocean observation capabilities. MedGOOS formed, using EU funding, the Mediterranean network to Assess and upgrade the Monitoring and forecasting Activity in the region (MAMA).[xiv] MAMA attempted to forge trans-national collaboration and development, linking institutions and platforms through initiatives such as visiting scientist exchange.[xv] A further example of the parallelisms between the structures and needs of various ROOS organisations, PAPA, serving the same ends, was set up as the BOOS equivalent.[xvi]

At present there are five EuroGOOS ROOS organisations: BOOS, NOOS, Arctic ROOS, IBI-ROOS, and MonGOOS. The Mediterranean Oceanographic Network for the Global Ocean Observing System (MonGOOS) had the most complex gestational voyage from Task Team to ROOS, with the Mediterranean Operational Oceanography Network (MOON) established in 2005 as an additional progression of the Mediterranean Task Team separate from MedGOOS.[xvii] These organisations worked closely for a number of years before consolidating into the single organisation MonGOOS in 2012, keeping in line with the overall directives towards the avoidance of duplication of effort and redundant operations in EuroGOOS’ strategic framework.[xviii]

[i] The Strategy for EuroGOOS, p. 111

[ii] The Strategy for EuroGOOS, p. 120

[iii] The GOOS 1998, p. 114

[iv] The Strategy for EuroGOOS, p.114

[v] The Strategy for EuroGOOS, p. 116

[vi] The GOOS 1998, pp. 116-117

[vii] The Strategy for EuroGOOS, p. 118

[viii] Buch, Erik. Interview.

[ix] Buch, Erik. Interview.

[x] (2005/6?) IBI-ROOS Plan: Iberia Biscay Ireland Regional Operational Oceanographic System 2006-2010. pp. 1-7

[xi] (2005/6?) IBI-ROOS Plan: Iberia Biscay Ireland Regional Operational Oceanographic System 2006-2010. pp. 1-7

[xii] Buch, Erik. Interview.

[xiii] Buch, Erik. Interview.

[xiv] Vallerga, S., Drago, A., Aarup, T., Abdelbaki, A., Abuissa, A., Awad, H., Awad, M.B., Beken, C., Besiktepe, S., Boargob, A.F., Brundrit, G., Capari, M., Carlier, A., Cermelj, B., Casazza, G., Civili, F.S., Cohen, Y., Tziavos, C., Dahlin, H., Dalla Costa, M., Drakopoulos, P., Flemming, N.C., Font, J., Fusco, G., Gertman, I., Georgiou, G., Harzallah, A., Herrouin, G., Ibrahim, A., Kabbara, N., Kljajic, Z., Kouyoumjian, H., Legrand, J., Lopez-Jurado, J.L., Magni, P., Mahmoud, A., C. Maillard, Al-Sheikh, Malacic, V., Manzella, G.M.R., Marchand, P., Morovic, M., Pissierssens, P., Pinardi, N., Nittis, K., Rosen, D.S., Summerhayes, C., Ribotti, A., Reed, G., Selenica, A., Salihoglu, I., Sammari, C., Sauzade, D., Silvestri, C., Snoussi, M., Sorgente, R., Umgiesser, G., Vargas, M., Vucijak, B., Woods, J.,  Zavatarelli, M., Zodiatis, G., (2003). MAMA – Towards a new paradigm for ocean monitoring in the Mediterranean in, Dahlin, H., Flemming, N.C., Nittis, K., Petersson, S.E., (Ed.), Elsevier Oceanography Series, Vol. 69, 2003 (pp. 46-56), p. 46.

[xv] MAMA – Towards a new paradigm for ocean monitoring in the Mediterranean, p. 52

[xvi] Buch, Erik. Interview.

[xvii] (2012). Mediterranean Oceanography Network for the Global Ocean Observing System, Memorandum of Agreement. p. 1

[xviii] Mediterranean Oceanography for the Global Ocean Observing System, Memorandum of Agreement. p. 1