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.
The approach aims to be more innovative compared to the last decade of programs more focused on biogeochemistry and natural variability than on ecosystem and biodiversity and anthropogenic change. In this context, the impact of continental inputs, related to the climate change, require to handle the marine system as a continuum from coastal area to open ocean including several processes both physical and biological.
The Mediterranean Sea is a mosaic of geographical, physical and ecological domains with much diversity and contrasts. The MOOSE observatory system coordinates and integrates observation initiatives into a network based on existing and new stations and facilities, taking into account the scientific specificity of each station. The implementation has to be scientifically consistent through all MOOSE sites and well balanced in between the laboratories and observatories. In addition to seasonal or interannual variability, the impact of extreme events that control fluxes and budgets in marine ecosystems should be characterized.
Hence, integrated and multi-scale observation networks must include both long-term monitoring and near real-time measurements capabilities in order to precisely document the broad spectrum of temporal and spatial scales involved and rely on the circulation features already identified (basin scale gyres, eddies, biogeochemical provinces).
Then, MOOSE has been built progressively as an interactive, distributed and integrated observatory of the French Mediterranean Sea, based on a multisite network of continental, shelf, shelf-break and deep-sea permanent stations, combining eulerian observatories and autonomous mobile platforms to enlarge and enhance the Mediterranean observation.