The Operational Observatory of the Catalan Sea (OOCS) studies changes in the marine environment by means of in situ observations, remote observations and statistical and numerical modelling.
The Observatory operates since March 2009 when a permanent observation station was established at the headwaters of the Blanes canyon at a depth of 200 m and 2.7 miles offshore. Since then, bimonthly samplings take place by means of the CEAB research boat “Dolores”.
Moreover, since September 2009, an oceanographic buoy was anchored at the station. It operates autonomously with data concerning meteorological and oceanographic conditions being recorded every 30 minutes. These data and images collected by the buoy are sent via 2G and 3G mobile telephony to a station located at the CEAB facilities where they are processed and published in almost real time.
The permanent station is located in an area of great ecological and economic interest owing to its high biological productivity connected to fisheries. In addition, owing to its proximity to several coastal towns (Blanes, Lloret and Tossa), this area is also visited by leisure boats.
Synchronized time series concerning changes in the lower atmosphere and the upper layers of the sea have been created from the data collected allowing the study of their links with environmental changes at the local and regional levels as well as with the global change. These data have also permitted the validation of several numerical models.
- A three-dimensional model of the Western Mediterranean Sea (Bernardello et al., 2012) couples hydrodynamic and biogeochemical features of the marine environment and allows the estimation of matter and energy fluxes.
- Another numerical model (Ahumada-Sempoal et al. 2013, 2015) simulates the hydrodynamic conditions of the Blanes Canyon and explains its ability to retain particles promoting biological productivity.
- Finally, a three-dimensional model (Bahamon Cruzado, 2003; Gaborit, 2014) simulates the biogeochemical conditions of the whole water column on the continental platform with an hourly frequency.
The Observatory produces relevant information concerning the marine environment that contributes to the understanding of the dynamics of biological productivity, not only in the pelagic zone, but in areas linked to the sea bottom as well.
All this information is distributed through European networks linked to marine and oceanic observation systems at the global level.