The global Mediterranean basin including its seas and the bordering continental surfaces has always proven to be a politically critical area due to the social issues arising in this cradle of civilization. Subject to increasing anthropogenic constraints, it is now environmentally threatened both in terms of its ecological balance and its exploitable resources and water systems. Despite intensive research efforts undertaken in the Mediterranean Sea over more than a century, an integrated view of its evolution, viewed in the climate change and anthropogenic pressure, still lacks.
To meet this challenge, INSU has decided to set up rapidly a national prospective for a new generation of observing systems with multiple and integrated sites, designed to record the ecosystems changes in this marine region. This was intended to enlarge the scope of the long term observation panel in this area within the framework of the national MISTRALS program. In this context, a Mediterranean Ocean Observing System for the Environment (MOOSE) has been set up as an interactive, distributed and integrated observatory system of the NW Mediterranean Sea to detect and identify long-term environmental anomalies. Another target is to define efficient indicators of the health of the NW Mediterranean basin.
Such a national strategic plan serves to reinforce the synergies between the four Observatories: Banyuls/mer (OOB), Marseille (Pytheas), Villefranche/mer (OOV) and Paris (Ecce Terra) as well as marine research labs, that are located along the French Mediterranean coastline, in order to cover all physical, chemical and biological processes that play a key role in the marine ecosystem. In this context, one major objective is to contribute to the sharing of resources and to better coordinate the required efforts by favoring the definition and development of a joint technical oceanographic network involving The Technical Service of INSU (DT-INSU) and IFREMER.
In the framework of the regional multidisciplinary initiative “Chantier Mistrals”*, some key scientific questions adapted for a long term observation system have been identified, related to three main ocean-atmosphere projects: HyMeX that focuses on the hydrological cycle and related processes in the Mediterranean; MERMeX that aims to deepen the current understanding of the Mediterranean marine ecosystems; ChArMeX a regional project on tropospheric chemistry and aerosols in the Mediterranean. However, compared to these programmatic actions, MOOSE pretends to be a long-term observing system project (over more than 10 yrs) in order to be able to observe and identify long-term changes in the Mediterranean marine ecosystem.
MOOSE, built as a multi-scale observation network, is now based on a multisite system of continental-shelf and deep-sea fixed stations as well as Lagrangian and mobile platforms to observe the spatio-temporal variability of interaction processes between the coastal-open ocean and the ocean-atmosphere components. It includes high frequency monitoring in order to precisely document the broad spectrum of temporal and spatial scales involved and to link it to the main circulation features already identified (basin scale gyres, eddies, biogeochemical provinces). MOOSE supplies and maintains long-term time series, the only data sets that allow to evidence climatic trends and also provides a large flux of real-time data and ensures their operational usage.
The approach developped by MOOSE aims to be more innovative compared to the last decade of programs being more focused on biogeochemistry and natural variability than on ecosystem and biodiversity and anthropogenic change.
MOOSE project is not intended to develop sensors and new technologies, but this observation system must be ready to host sensors (according to the scientific needs) and to guide their development or to integrate them when they are sustained.