Technologie Hero Istock-1352825159 Gorodenkoff

Integration of biodiversity monitoring data into the Digital Twin Ocean


Project timeline
September 2023
42 months
February 2027
General Information
The ocean and its biodiversity are essential to life on this planet. Comprehensive data on biodiversity, and related human and environmental pressures are crucial to understand its current state and how this may change. Protecting and restoring biodiversity is one of three objectives of the Horizon Europe Mission to restore our oceans and waters by 2030, enabling the EU to reach its Green Deal and Biodiversity 2030 targets. Identified as one of the Mission "enablers", the EU will build on “a digital knowledge system” to include a Digital Twin of the Ocean (DTO) allowing simulation of ‘what if’ scenarios, advancing ocean knowledge, informing evidence-based policy and offering a range of societal applications. To effectively replicate the ocean’s ecology, the DTO requires sustained flows of data on biodiversity and associated pressures. Despite myriad actors collecting biodiversity data, and the development of novel cost-effective monitoring technologies, much of these data are inaccessible or unusable for a variety of reasons, hampering the development of the DTO biological component and limiting its efficacy.
DTO-BioFlow will activate access to ("sleeping") marine biodiversity data and enable the sustainable integration of existing and new Artificial Intelligence processed and automated data flows from various sources to EMODnet and into the EDITO infrastructure serving the EU DTO. Combining sustained data flows, models and new algorithms, DTO-BioFlow will develop and integrate the biological component of the DTO, including new digital tools and services. Policy-relevant use cases, will demonstrate the benefit for marine ecosystems of continuous data streams flowing through EMODnet and usable by the EU DTO infrastructures and ultimate end-users. Mobilising the marine biodiversity community towards increasing the availability of biodiversity monitoring data into 2030, DTO-BioFlow and its outputs will support the Mission’s actions to protect and restore biodiversity.

Hereon will contribute to the major task of building the biodiversity component with plankton imaging observation networks. This task will realise the data flow towards the DTO from plankton imaging observation networks, leveraging the communities in the JERICO project, I/ITAPINA network, the EMSO and EMBRC infrastructures, innovations in the Argo program and recurrent fisheries monitoring cruises, all of which include DTO-BioFlow members. Hereon will work on minimising the labour time involved in plankton imaging by further optimising custom image classification models for instruments relevant to biomonitoring, following existing work on the ZooScan and CPICS. Similar tools will be explored to categorise marine snow particles imaged together with plankton by in situ instruments. Those particles contribute to the biological carbon pump and their morphology can have a direct influence on the intensity of that pump.
Hereon contributes here to a demonstrator use case which will also gather information on pelagic carbon biomass from in situ imaging instruments, at global scale, to derive fluxes and/or sequestration rates in a spatially and temporally resolved manner (e.g., yearly maps, seasonal averages, etc.). Databases, demonstration model and interfaces will allow query of traits information and particulate carbon biomass in the marine realm. Outputs include Carbon fluxes (fixation and export estimates) for key ecosystems, in Europe for the coastal realm and worldwide for the pelagic zone. This knowledge will directly support marine ecosystem management and MSP through the estimation of a key ecosystem service.
EU-Programme Acronym and Subprogramme AreaHORIZON-MISS-2022-OCEAN-01-07
Project TypeInnovation Action (IA)
Contract NumberGrant Agreement 101112823
Co-ordinatorVlaams Instituut Voor De Zee (BE)
Funding for the Project (€) Funding for Hereon (€)
Contact Person at Hereon Dr. Klas Ove Möller, Institute of Carbon Cycles, Department Biological Carbon Pump (KCB), Phone: +49 4152 87 2371
E-mail contact
Worldwide Europe

Centro Interdisciplinar De Investigacao Marinha E Ambiental (PT), CNRS (FR), Commpla SRL (IT), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (ES), CSC - IT Center for Science (FI), E-Science European Infrastructure For Biodiversity And Ecosystem Research (ES), Eigen Vermogen Van Het Instituut Voor Natuur- En Bosonderzoek (BE), European Marine Biological Center European Research Infrastructure Consortium (FR), European Molecular Biology Laboratory (DE), Fondazione Coispa ETS (IT), Göteborg Universitet (SE), GEOMAR Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung Kiel (DE), Hellenic Center for Marine Reearch (GR), International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (DK), Mariene Informatie Service "MARIS" B.V. (NL), Marine Biological Association (UK), Mercator Ocean (FR), Netherlands Organisation for applied Scientific Research (NL), SEASCAPE Belgium (BE), SINTEF (NO), SINTEF OCEAN AS (NO), Stichting Naturalis Biodiversity Center (NL), Technical University of Denmark (DK), TRUST-IT SRL (IT), UNESCO (FR), Universite du Littoral (FR), Universite Sorbonne (FR), University of Aarhus (DK), University of St. Andrews (UK), Vlaams Instituut Voor de Zee (BE), VSB - Technical University of Ostrava (CZ)
DTO-BioFlow website
Last Update: 17. October 2023