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Resuscitation of the data collected during the first years of modern oceanography in Belgium (PMZ-DBII)

Research project SD/NS/14A (Research action SD)

Persons :

  • M.  SCORY Serge - Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences ()
    Coordinator of the project
    Financed belgian partner
    Duration: 1/8/2009-31/1/2012

Description :


Access to historical ocean data is required to study global change and to define the “good environmental status” of the marine waters. This later is imposed by the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive and has to be reached by 2020. PMPZ-DBII focuses on digitalizing and making available Belgian oceanographic data of the 1970-1982 period. These data are thus crucial for marine policy makers who have to comply with the requirement of the EU Framework Directives, but also for any climate or oceanographic research where time evolution is under consideration.

Project description


Modern oceanography, with systematic measurement campaigns of significant parameters for assessing the quality of the marine environment, actually started in the Belgian waters with the “Projet Mer/Projekt Zee”. This project, Phase I of the North Sea Research Programme of the Belgian Science Policy brought together more than 200 scientists and technicians during the period 1970-1976 for a systematic study of the Belgian marine waters of the estuary of the Scheldt river. Key-researches were even prolonged a few years more in the frame of “concerted actions” (Phase II of the North Sea Research Programme, 1977–1982).
The results of this vast project are kept in forms and formats which are not readily useful for a direct and systematic scientific analysis: paper reports, copies of magnetic tapes, archives of the researchers. PMPZ-DBII aims at transforming that information into a coherent and integrated dataset and to make it available for any further treatment.


Due to the peculiarities of the information sources (considering only the eleven volumes of the final report of the “Projet Mer – Projekt Zee”, more than 230 tables, more than 420 graphs, not mentioning the information to retrieve from the text itself: about 300 pages), a very rigorous methodology will be developed (1) to identify the useful information and to reference it in a relational way, (2) to actually digitize the information. This methodology will be validated by the follow–up committee before being applied, together with the prioritisation of the data to process.
A special effort will be put on the documentation of the basic data (“meta–information”) and on their update to contemporary concepts (in particular for the taxonomy), in order to optimise their usefulness for future studies.
The resulting data set will be incorporated into the existing IDOD data base and will thus be available to users like any other recent data. The data will be put under the spotlights through dedicated web pages explaining also the context of the historical project. Besides, two case studies will be studied in order to demonstrate the usefulness of the rescued data.

Expected results and/or products

(1) A historical oceanographic dataset digitized, documented and imported in the « IDOD » database and available without restriction.
(2) Documented specific recovery procedures that will be communicated to the marine data managers’ community.
(3) Web pages presenting the project and the data.
(4) Two case studies showing the importance and the usefulness of the rescued dataset.



The Belgian Marine Data Centre is holded in the Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Models. The tasks of the team are threefold: (1) design, development and management of the “IDOD” data base; (2) processing of the datasets submitted in the frame of various national and international projects: quality control and import in the data base; (3) promotion of the data and the database: online data access, participation to workshops and conferences, participation in national and international projects, products issues (maps, reports, etc.).

Contact information

Ir Serge Scory
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Models
Belgian Marine Data Centre
Gulledelle, 100
B–1200 Brussels
Tel: +32 (0)2 773 21 33
Fax: +32 (0)2 770 69 72

Follow-up committee

Members of the follow-up committee should either be experts in data management techniques or experts in the various disciplines concerned by the whole dataset or end user of historical data.

Francisco Hernandez, Flanders Marine Institute (Data management expert);
Dr. Kris Cooreman, Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (Biota data expert);
Dr. Patrick Roose, Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Models (Chemical data expert);
Pr. Magda Vincx, Ghent University, Marine Biology (Biota data expert);
N… (to be designated by BODC, possibly Dr. L. Rickards or Dr. R. Lowry), British Oceanographic Data Centre (Data structuration expert);
Dr. Sydney Levitus, NOAA, US National Oceanographic Data Centre, World Data Centre (Data rescue expert);
N… (to be designated by DG Environment), Federal public service Public Health, Food chain safety & Environment – Marine Environment (User)

Documentation :

Resuscitation of the data collected during the first years of modern oceanography in Belgium (PMPZ-DBII) : final report  Scory, Serge - Lagring, Ruth - De Cauwer, Karien  Brussels : Federal Science Policy, 2012 (SP2533)
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