A conceptual framework for developing the next generation of Marine OBservatories (MOBs) for science and society

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article – Annual report year: 2018Researchpeer-review



  • Author: Crise, Alessandro

    National Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics, Italy

  • Author: d'Alcala, Maurizio Ribera

    National Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics, Italy

  • Author: Mariani, Patrizio

    Section for Oceans and Arctic, National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark, Kemitorvet, 2800, Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark

  • Author: Petihakis, George

    Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Greece

  • Author: Robidart, Julie

    National Oceanography Centre, United Kingdom

  • Author: Iudicone, Daniele

    Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn Napoli, Italy

  • Author: Bachmayer, Ralf

    University of Bremen, Germany

  • Author: Malfatti, Francesca

    National Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics, United Kingdom

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In the field of ocean observing, the term of "observatory" is often used without a unique meaning. A clear and unified definition of observatory is needed in order to facilitate the communication in a multidisciplinary community, to capitalize on future technological innovations and to support the observatory design based on societal needs. In this paper, we present a general framework to define the next generation Marine OBservatory (MOB), its capabilities and functionalities in an operational context. The MOB consists of four interconnected components or "gears" (observation infrastructure, cyberinfrastructure, support capacity, and knowledge generation engine) that are constantly and adaptively interacting with each other. Therefore, a MOB is a complex infrastructure focused on a specific geographic area with the primary scope to generate knowledge via data synthesis and thereby addressing scientific, societal, or economic challenges. Long-term sustainability is a key MOB feature that should be guaranteed through an appropriate governance. MOBs should be open to innovations and good practices to reduce operational costs and to allow their development in quality and quantity. A deeper biological understanding of the marine ecosystem should be reached with the proliferation of MOBs, thus contributing to effective conservation of ecosystems and management of human activities in the oceans. We provide an actionable model for the upgrade and development of sustained marine observatories producing knowledge to support science-based economic and societal decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number318
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Issue numberSEP
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sep 2018
CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: No match on DOI

    Research areas

  • Cyberinfrastructure, Essential Ocean Variables, Global Ocean Observing System, Long-term sustainability, Marine OBservatory, Ocean observing

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