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EMODnet Atlantic Checkpoint


The Atlantic Checkpoint tests available marine data against 11 “challenges”, related to blue economy sectors, the marine environment variability and change, the emergency management and the preservation of natural resources and biodiversity.


Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
Coherence with other processes:
Key words:

Questions this practice may help answer

  • Which are the main gaps in the monitoring systems of the Atlantic?
  • Which are the main needs and recommendations to remove these gaps?
  • What are the priorities for further improving marine observations, data assembling and data dissemination?
  • How can monitoring systems and data collection frameworks provide data to meet user’s needs and to address some of the major challenges in the Atlantic related to blue economy, environmental preservation, nature protection and emergency management?


Implementation Context

The Atlantic Checkpoint was created by the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) is a network of organisations supported by the EU’s integrated maritime policy and is designed to provide access to European marine data. The EMODnet Sea Basin Checkpoints assess the quality of the current observation monitoring data at the level of the regional sea-basins. By testing the data against specific end-user challenges, the checkpoints aim to demonstrate how well the current monitoring systems and data collection frameworks provide data to meet the needs of users. In doing so, data gaps and duplications as well as significant bottlenecks will be highlighted. The initiation of the Atlantic Checkpoint in 2015 followed the initiation of the Mediterranean and North Sea check point in 2013. The Atlantic Checkpoint will run from 2015 – 2018.


Aspects / Objectives

The Atlantic checkpoint is a wide monitoring system assessment activity aiming to support the sustainable Blue Growth at the scale of the North Atlantic Ocean by clarifying the observation landscape, evaluating the fitness for use of current observations and data assembly programs towards 11 challenges and prioritises the need to optimise monitoring systems in terms of availability, operational reliability, efficiency, time consistency, space consistency, etc. in addition to observational priorities required in the future to meet the challenges. The main objectives of the Atlantic Checkpoint are:


Clarify the data collection and warehousing landscape of all compartments of the marine environment and highlighting the existing programs at national, European and international level;
Build fitness-for-use indicators that will show the accessibility and usability of observation and modelled data sets and their roles and synergies based upon targeted applications;
Prioritize the needs for optimizing monitoring systems in terms of accessibility, availability, multiple-use, efficiency, reliability, time consistency, space consistency, etc. and the planning of the technological advancements, new accessibility, new assembly protocols and observational priorities required in the future to meet the challenges.



The methodology focuses primarily on end-user applications and involves the assessment of the upstream data against 11 important challenges relevant to sustainable blue growth. These challenges are regional study cases which, through concrete demonstrations of use and value, will participate in the assessment of the observing infrastructure at a sea basin scale for the Atlantic. The challenges are:

  • Windfarm siting
  • Marine Protected Areas
  • Oil Platform Leaks
  • Climate Change
  • Coastal Management
  • Fishery Management
  • Fishing Impacts
  • Eutrophication
  • River Inputs
  • Bathymetry
  • Alien Species

The challenges are tasks that have been chosen in order to make the bridge with end-user applications and to test how comprehensive and accurate the monitoring and forecasting datasets are at a sea basin scale. They cover the energetic and food security sector (renewable energy, fisheries & aquaculture management), marine environment variability and change (climate change, eutrophication, river inputs, bathymetry, alien species), emergency management (oil spills, fishery impacts, coastal impacts) and preservation of natural resources and biodiversity (connectivity of Protected Marine Areas and red list species).

In the case of the Atlantic checkpoint, the region is defined by the Atlantic Ocean, North of the equator up to the Arctic Ocean and excluding the North Sea but the pragmatic geographic approach is the EU economic zones because the two DG/MARE key initiatives do not extend beyond these boundaries. However, when "EU coasts" are specified for the Atlantic (this is the case for MPAs and Coasts challenges and by nature for climate change), it refers to the coasts of UK, metropolitan France, continental Spain, continental Portugal and Ireland that adjoin the Atlantic as well as those of the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Saint Martin.


Main Outputs / Results

All project outputs are made available through the Atlantic Checkpoint portal to support the assessment of the information flow and to enhance the design of the European observing infrastructure. Main outputs can be identified in the production of checkpoint data (or “Targeted Data Products” from challenges), checkpoint information (e.g. quality metadata, checkpoint indicators) and checkpoint reports (DAR, Data Adequacy Reports). The Targeted Data Products are available from each “Challenge” web page which can be accessed by a unique widget at the base of the portal page (see figure below) where a full description of the product and the data source is provided. A visualization service is available through the Sextant GIS Portal, allowing to navigate information about the available layers, to save, load and print maps and to download data.


The results of the overall Checkpoint assessment are further collected in “Data Adequacy Reports” which provide an annual view of the monitoring effort in the sea basin, identifying gaps and priorities in the observational networks, in situ and satellites analyses and forecasts and data geo- infrastructures, archival and assembly centres. Synthesis information is provided to support decision making on observations and monitoring, for future development and improvement of overall observing infrastructure.




Collected data and related targeted products, made accessible through the portal, can be capitalized in other studies and projects on the Mediterranean Sea. The general methodology based on testing the data against specific end-user challenges is shared among all the other EMODnet Sea Basin Checkpoints. EMODnet website also allows exploring challenges across the different investigated sea basins. The specific methodology adopted by Atlantic Checkpoint, based on European wide principles (ISO and INSPIRE), is completely transferrable to other contexts.


Contact Person

EMODnet Secretariat, (secretariat[at]emodnet[dot]ec[dot]europa[dot]eu)


Responsible Entity

The EMODnet Atlantic consortium is comprised of 10 partners led by Ifremer.

Each partner within the consortium are responsible for different challenges. Details of the partner responsible and a point of contact within that organisation can be found here:

Costs / Funding Source

The European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) is a long-term marine data initiative funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, which together with the Copernicus space programme and the Data Collection Framework for fisheries, implements the EU’s Marine Knowledge 2020 strategy.