Transnational Access

Metadata & Data

Papers & Reports

Knowledge Base

AQUACOSM-plus Work Packages


The mission and vision of AQUACOSM-plus is the use the experience and successes developed in AQAUCOSM to expand and strengthen the network of mesocosm infrastructures through inclusions of 10 more organisations to 31 in ERA, and to connect to other international facilities worldwide.

AQUACOSM-plus will reach its ambitious objectives through the 3 mandatory coordinated activities (i.e. NA, TA and JRA). The work flow is organized in 8 work packages plus one dedicated to the coordination (WP1). WP2, 3, 4 5 and 6 are devoted to Networking Activities (NA) with goal of significantly expand, integrate and develop leading aquatic mesocosm RIs not only in Europe, but also globally through fostering international co-design with a symposium on Grand Challenges, expert summits, a range of open workshops, surveys with associated partners, and training of young scientists through summer schools and through advancing Open Mesocosm Science.

AQUACOSM-plus will further intensify the collaboration with industry and other non-academic stakeholders to unlock the innovation capacity of the RI for industry. Close cooperation with other EU-funded RIs (LTER, ICOS, DANUBIUS, JERICO-S3) is also a priority for AQUACOSM-plus for maximizing European and global readiness and collaboration, in order to tackle the Grand Challenges (support letters not attached due to page limitations, but can be shown upon request).

Joint Research Activities (JRA) foster new high-throughput leading edge technology, affordable and reliable methods to obtain high-frequency data and develop novel effective methods enabling mobile large-scale mesocosms approaches. Support Actions to the infrastructure are distributed in WP9 for Transnational Access, which have an increased focus on user needs for easy, wide and efficient access.

Activity 1 – five Networking actions (WP 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

Increased interactions and collaboration with industry, European RIs to RIs, and policy makers. As the latter have been non-optimized in many RIs, AQUACOSM-plus use a new channel through our NGO, AirClim that specialises at such communication. Their new CEO Dr. Marko Reinikainen, has further unique knowledge in the AQUACOSM-plus project and mesocosm based science as former leader of the HU partner in AQUACOSM.

Identifying grand challenges that can best benefit from AQUACOSM facilities, and elaborating and testing approaches to address them.

Ensure an effective build-up of a new generation scientists and engineers prepared to maintain and further develop mesocosm-based research and services.

Developing and implementing approaches towards open science compliancy, and ease the application of principles of open data, open workflows and open access results.

The networking actions are: NA1- Science and innovation strategy for society (WP2), NA2- Networking and Training for Knowledge Transfer (NTKT) (WP3), NA3- Breaching barriers to open mesocosm science, including open science tools and data (WP4), NA4- Outreach: Communication, Dissemination and Exploitation (WP5) and NA5- Defining Grand Challenges in aquatic mesocosm research (WP6).

Activity 2 – Joint Research Activity actions (WP7, 8)

AQUACOSM-plus JRA will develop affordable, light-weight, and easily transportable mesocosms allowing for standardized experimentation over wide geographical and environmental gradients. Emerging automated, high-resolution imaging techniques, coupled to Artificial Intelligence developments in computer vision and machine learning, as wells as high frequency sensing of greenhouse gas fluxes is expected to provide essential break-throughs that will be effectively shared among the consortia, associated partners, and beyond. The JRA actions are: JRA1: Towards transformative mesocosm research – breaking the spatial and temporal barriers of aquatic ecosystem experimentation (WP7) and JRA2- Pilot execution of Grand Challenge scenario-testing through bridging scales of experimental and observational RI networks (WP8).

Activity 3 – Transnational Access (WP9)

AQUACOSM-plus has increased focus on user needs for easy, wide and efficient access to standardised and harmonised use of the RIs and to reach these goals emphasis is given to a) Pre-TA training of participants to ensure that TA receive essential skills, b) fast and easy access to the projects offered by the different RI facilities significantly supported by a new interactive open web-based “Project Tracker” (WP5), and c) more than doubled number of skilled User Selection Panel members (4 to now 7, WP1) ensuring fast access and evaluation.

WP1 Consortium management



Oversee the administration, operational management, and overall implementation of the project, including internal communication and collaboration between the Project Coordinators, individual consortium members, and the European Commission; to administer consortium networking and governance, including supporting relevant bodies and meetings (Task 1.1), a User Selection Panel (Task 1.2) and Advisory Board (Task 1.3); ensure efficient management, decision-making, and to implement sound financial management as well as controlling systems and quality assurance of deliverables and periodic and final Reports (Task 1.4) and of the description of work (Task 1.5). A specific goal of the overall AQUACOSM-plus management is to optimise the efficiency of the research infrastructures' management and their service provision through joint management of access provision and pooling of distributed resources at the facilities, initiated in AQUACOSM.


D1.1 First Feedback from AB to project progress (Month 20)

D1.2 Periodic & financial reports M1-18 (Month 20)

D1.3 Second Feedback from AB to project progress (Month 32)

D1.4 Periodic & financial reports M19-36 (Month 38)

D1.5 Periodic & financial and final reports M1-48 (Month 50)

Partners: Lead FVB-IGB, Participants WP-Leaders,

Duration: Month 1-48

Focus on organisation and coordination of the consortium bodies and their meetings, particularly meetings of the Steering Committee (twice a year), and the General Assembly (once a year), as well to ensure efficient and regular communication between the coordination, the consortium bodies, and all partners. This task will also ensure a close liaison with relevant EC offices and services, in particular, the scientific and financial officers in charge of the project, and other relevant EC advisors.

Partners: Lead FVB-IGB, Participants UIB, UU

Duration: Month 1-48

Will support the independent international experts responsible for selecting users for transnational access of the AQUACOSM-plus platforms (described in 3.2). The USP will be supported by the online application system (TA-Portal WP5.2), the TA-provision coordination (as described in WP9), and by the Steering Committee in the selection process and communication with the TA providing infrastructures.

Partners: Lead FVB-IGB

Duration: Month 1- 48

Will appoint and support a high-level STAB which will help to monitor progress, provide independent guidance and advice to the Project coordinators, Steering Committee and the entire consortium (described in 3.2). The STAB members will be supported in their function by the project logistically by the organisation of meetings in conjunction with AQUACOSM-plus Kick-Off and GA meetings (4 times). This organisation will also maximise the contact and mutual information flow between the STAB, consortium, and the associated members (mesocosm.eu). The Project Office will also provide for direct links between the Advisory Board and all consortium bodies, groups and partners as needed.

Partners: Lead FVB-IGB, Contributors all partners

Duration: Month 1-48

Will undertake: 1) Preparation and coordination of the periodic scientific and financial project reports as requested by the EC. 2) Coordination of common administrative tasks, such as elaborating and providing templates for detailed planning and reporting of the tasks in each WP; providing formats for compiling and editing progress reports; monitoring progress through reaching milestones and deliverables; quality control of products and deliverables. 3) Financial monitoring: Ensuring a transparent financial distribution of the EC grant, including setting and monitoring payment schedules, and terms of reimbursement. 4) Preparation of financial controlling reports for the overall monitoring of the project, and 5) A formal project management plan will be developed and implemented for the project start, to provide how the project is executed, monitored and controlled.

Partners: Lead FVB-IGB, Participants all partners

Duration: Month 1-48

Coordination of refining and repeated updating the AQUACOSM-plus work plan in accordance with actual developments, progress achieved and outcomes of internal and external reviews, particularly the STAB- reports. Provide up-to-date copies of the DoW to all consortium partners, associates and relevant stakeholders.

WP2 Science and innovation strategy for society



WP2 aims at maximising the impact of the AQUACOSM-plus RI for society by critically evaluating the relevance of the RI for different stakeholders and clarification of the position of AQUACOSM in the complex landscape of European RIs and its interface with other RIs. WP2 is structured in four tasks respectively focusing on: Task 2.1, reviewing and analysing the RI-landscape to effectively capitalising on co-design between relevant RIs; Task 2.2 enlarging the scientific spectrum of AQUACOSM as a standalone RI and through collaboration; Task 2.3, unlocking the innovation and service potential of AQUACOSM; and Task 2.4, Roadmap for the future.


D2.1 Landscape and business analyses (M20)

D2.2 Enlarging the scientific spectrum (M38)

D2.3 Unlocking innovation (M48)

D2.4 Roadmap for the future (M48)


Duration: Month 1-20

Knowing the other is a way of knowing ourselves better. Task 2.1 will conduct an in-depth analysis of the European RI landscape, starting from the ESFRI roadmap 2018, and developing through accounting for 13 projects, and national infrastructures not linked in EU projects. We will use AQUACOSM partners’ links and contributions in other RIs (e.g., LTER, DANUBIUS, JERICO) as a cost-effective manner to get detailed information on RIs’ strategy and “business plan”. ENVRI gathering will also be used in this endeavour. A SWOT analysis will be conducted in order to clarify the improvement potential and opportunities that lie on AQUACOSM to unlock its full potential for supporting science, regulatory bodies and not least private stakeholders. A BCG analysis (i.e. Boston Consulting Group model) will be used to evaluate the strategic position of the AQUACOSM portfolio and its potential. These two analyses will be performed through a dedicated workshop organised at the occasion of the 2nd GA. Results from the mapping and analyses will be reported in deliverable D2.1.

Partners: Lead FVB-IGB, Contributors NORCE, UiB, AirClim, LMU, UmU, CNRS-MARBEC

Duration: Month 12-38

Results and findings from Task 2.1 will be further used to identify and promote new opportunities in research and innovation for AQUACOSM as a network of European mesocosms. We will take advantage of the broader community gathered in the AQUACOSM-plus project, including SMEs and new infrastructure, to investigate new possibilities and fit-for-purpose research topics that would benefit the RI. Furthermore, interfacing and cooperation with European RIs (LTER, DANUBIUS, ANAEE, JERICO, ICOS) is foreseen to become an important way for AQUACOSM towards sustainability and increased relevance to society, in a broad sense. How to practically link long-term data, acquired by observational RIs with process studies, conducted in AQUACOSM, will be investigated in tight cooperation with other RIs, paving the way for operational cooperation and mutual adding-value between environmental RIs. A dedicated meeting will be organised for progressing on this. We will use the ENVRI initiative framework for facilitating this dialog. This task will focus on getting the right data for science, co-design of collaborative multi-domain sites (super-sites) thru connecting related RIs networks towards tackling Grand Challenges (collaboration with WP6 and WP8). This would contribute in reducing the gaps in present knowledge base originating from the somewhat fragmented European RIs landscape and the limited active collaborations between RIs. A series of workshops will be organised within the consortium and with contributions from representatives from other RIs. The results from JRAs and from TA will be important inputs in the process of expanding the AQUACOSM scientific spectrum. Minutes of workshop will be published as justification of milestones. The overall conclusions from this task will be a foreseeing science strategy, to be reported in deliverable D2.2. The potential of the common IT-structure developed in WP4.3 as a vector for innovation through improved interaction between aquatic RIs, will be assessed.

Partners: Lead NORCE, Contributors METU, NIOO-KNAW, GEOMAR, RSK, AirClim, UiB,

Duration: Months 6-45

In the framework of the AQUACOSM project, an analysis of the innovation potential of the RI has been conducted through interactions with different stakeholders and with the support of an innovation forum gathering a limited number of representatives of the private sector. It will lead to the elaboration of an innovation strategy for the RI, to be issued by June 2020. Task 2.3 will build upon results from AQUACOSM and will implement the proposed innovation strategy. The effort on developing the AQUACOSM RI as a facility providing products and services to a range of users will be pursued. It will use new findings from the SWOT and CBG analyses performed in Task 2.1 and propose a concrete action plan for unlocking the innovation potential. Task 2.3 will use the support of Task 5.3, which will provide fora and mechanisms for interacting with different end-users, and thereby create new opportunities for innovation and value-creation based on AQUACOSM.

Task 2.3 will also interact tightly with the TA activities for the goal of providing increased opportunity for performing innovation actions through TA. In AQUACOSM-plus, and in addition to the traditional goal of TA of supporting excellent international research, TA will be used as a vector for innovation and provide demonstrations of mesocosm products and services through collaborative effort with private and public actors, including NGOs and policy makers; the goal being to build success stories and provide a window on AQUACOSM services to end-users. We expect this tight and synergetic cooperation between NA and TA to increase drastically visibility and awareness on AQUACOSM and to have a long-lasting positive “snow- ball” effect on the demand for access to the RI. KPIs will be established at an early stage in the project in order to follow-up progress on achievements.

In tight interaction with WP5, dialog with potential industrial users of AQUACOSM will be conducted, enabling identification of key innovations that can lead to a leap in attractiveness of mesocosm facilities for industry-based research (e.g., aquaculture, agriculture, IoT/AI). The ongoing preliminary dialog with aquaculture industry (farmers, technology providers and feed producers) and oil and gas industry will be consolidated, and will be supported by activities from WP4 (NA) on open science and WP7 (JRA) on new technological development. The innovation forum activated in WP5 will play a major role in achieving Task 2.3 objectives. We may consider consolidating the process with other tools such as questionnaire, phone interviews and direct bilateral meetings with key industry actors as identified in WP5. The outcome of this task will be reported in deliverable D2.3.

Partners: Lead FVB-IGB, Contributors NORCE, SYKE,

Duration: Month 30-48

Task 2.4 will elaborate and deliver a strategic roadmap for the future implementation and sustainability of the European Network of aquatic mesocosms, ensuring both the long-lasting impact of the infrastructure for research and society and the subsequent necessary governance and economic framework. This task will build upon inputs and achievements from all other tasks of WP2 on interaction with other leading RIs and identified present and future barriers and challenges, the agreed science strategy and innovation actions, as well as from WP4 (open science), WP5 (engagement with stakeholders), WP6 (Grand Challenges), WP7 on new technological developments, WP8 on cross-barrier joint research initiatives, and from the international science activities supported by the AQUACOSM-plus Transnational Access provision in WP9. The last months of the project will be devoted to this synthesis to produce a key report recommending a roadmap for the durable implementation of a European network of mesocosms (D2.4).

WP3 Science and innovation strategy for society

Lead: METU


While the mechanisms behind Grand Challenges (GCs) are influenced by factors at continental and global scales, many RIs, including aquatic mesocosm facilities, have typically operated locally, carrying out curiosity driven basic research on limited number of questions. Bridging this mismatch and effectively investigate stressors on a wider scale would provide tools to better inform national to global measures to tackle the GCs. This requires better communication, harmonisation and access to the best research tools combined with effective open science collaboration. To foster this development in the mesocosm community, WP3 aims to build on the fundament from AQUACOSM, but strengthen the networking and training activities to further increase cooperation, communication, co-ordination, while providing more effective support and updated best practice advices.

Thus, the future mesocosm-based research will be shaped by enhanced activities of the AQUACOSM-plus community through provision of support and knowledge transfer to potential new users, specifically targeting less strong mesocosms- based research EU Member States so that EU-wide network of scientific culture can thrive, and reach out beyond globally to complimentary facilities and their users (WP2 and in cooperation with WP5, 8 & 9, Fig.1.1a,b). In order to foster globally comparable studies in the future, WP3 will ensure transfer of standardised best practice knowledge through many open channels. In addition to reports, SOPs, manuals and scientific publications produced in AQUACOSM, WP3 will continue to update these, but most importantly will make use of new media, such as online freely accessible Wiki-publications. Specific focus will be given on the training of young researchers and facility users to maximise the benefit gained from mesocosm-based research both through training in new harmonised operation procedures at all facilities such electronic data acquirement and as real-time DB-upload (WP4) as well as supporting transferral of personal skills by exchange of experienced personnel between facilities to enhance Transnational Access provision (cooperation with WP 8.5 & 9). Thus, WP3 will effectively contribute to build human capital and competitiveness of AQUACOSM-plus partner infrastructures in the European Research Area (ERA) and beyond.


D3.1 Minutes of the first summer School for knowledge transfer (M03)

D3.2 Report on international view of on mesocosms and water grand challenges (M15)

D3.3 First Report on social media group activities and impacts (M16)

D3.4 Minutes of the second summer School for knowledge transfer (M21)

D3.5 Report on the workshop on international collaboration in mesocosm based research incl. associated partners from mesocosm.eu (M21)

D3.6 Report on the specific training workshops on networking, communication, open data and hands on training encompassing river, lake/pond, marine and temporary waters (M34)

D3.7 Second Report on social media group activities and impacts (M44)

D3.8 Wiki book usage report (M48)

Partners: Lead FVB-IGB, co-leads TCD and METU, Participants BLIT, NIOO-KNAW, UiB, WCL, HCMR, all partners

Duration: Month 1-48

Standardisation and harmonisation between mesocosm-facilities within the AQUACOSM-plus network and beyond is crucial to ensure top quality research outcomes to tackle the GCs in aquatic ecosystems. Task 3.1 supports further the integration of freshwater and marine mesocosm facilities by advanced joint development of (1) technologies, (2) documentation procedures and (3) other best practices that will critically improve data quality and services provided by facilities. To serve this purpose we will update and expand the content already collected as best practice guidelines and Standard Operation protocols during the present AQUACOSM project and produce easily accessible, updatable and practical Wiki books on various aspects of mesocosm science (M22). This Wiki-based interactive book will provide the state-of-the-art of current knowledge and know-how as well as practical experiences and best practice advices on designing, managing, operating and conducting research at mesocosm infrastructures. The Wiki book will also include guidance on data analyses, in an integrated manner, from freshwater and marine domains including newly developed technologies, and prototypes in mesocosms research across climate zones (based on the latest developments in WP7). Benefiting from being an open dynamic media the Wiki will first be presented on the aquacosm.eu site and later be linked at the mesocosm.eu website to encourage wider mesocosm community editing and the transfer of knowledge. As a living document, the Wiki book will be community maintained in the future on the mesocosm.eu. The community engagement with the Wiki book will be evaluated by user questions and page statistics (M22-48). At M35 the user statistics and requests will be evaluated with the aim to optimise the user value. To increase the awareness and use of the Wiki book it will be widely disseminated on the aquacosm.eu and mesocosm.eu pages (WP5), advertised on project meetings (WP1), on the Summit2 (WP6) and during joint research activities (WP8) and Transnational Access provision activities (WP9).

Partners: Lead METU, co-lead IGB & HCMR, contributors all TA providers

Duration: Month 1-48

The primary mission of this task is to prepare a new global generation of scientists to effectively conceptualise, build up, conduct and publish results and data from large scale coordinated ecosystem scale experiments, using state-of-the-art approaches and a wide international network. This task will also help foster a culture of cooperation to convert persisting scientific, technical and cultural barriers into cross-disciplinary fertilisation. This networking task provides a platform for generation of ideas and provision of training in mesocosm-based research activities including improved internal communication and co-ordination, support of researchers, students, and facility users (Transnational Access) by creating space for dialog, discussion, and experience exchange. In order to educate and train the new generation of researchers with all essential knowledge and tools ranging from ecological principles to theoretical backgrounds relating to GCs problems and provide hands on experiences on experimenting, data analyses for aquatic environments as well as science communication will be picked up by two summer schools (M1 & 19) and ad hoc workshops at AQUACOSM-plus meetings will be organised in combination with each TA activity (the latter in cooperation with WP8.5). Both summer schools will train attendees on use of mesocosm experiments together with modelling/theoretical exercises for understanding aquatic food web as well as general ecological principles together with methods and approaches in contemporary mesocosm research. Participants will learn how to design and maintain experiments, collect and analyse material, and evaluate and explain results. Furthermore, both summer schools will also train the participants on how to communicate science effectively through expert lectures on the topic as well as having a hands-on training on “Video filming as an effective and fun way for science communication”. Thus, training of young scientist and TA users is a priority for ensuring effective knowledge transfer enabling high quality scientific results through standardisation and harmonisation procedures. To achieve an on-going active communication within the AQUACOSM-plus community: (1) discussion groups will be created on various social media platforms, most prominent a Project Tracker (WP5) will be used to foster focused discussion on mesocosm science, activities, TA progress, mentoring and partner search. The aim is to make it an international social media hub for mesocosm research; (2) webinars including lightening talks as well as journal clubs on important and relevant topics to be identified in WP6.1 (Symposium on GCs) will be organised quarterly by inclusion of facility providers, students/post- docs, TA-users, the associated community (mesocosm.eu) and the outside community (in cooperation with WP5, WP6 and WP9). To enhance success in these goals, young scientists and students will be encouraged to take the lead in each of the facilities as a bottom-up initiative for enabling long-lasting sustainable knowledge transfer. This task will result in an AQUACOSM-plus community that is well-informed, well- trained, well-connected, and feels strongly linked with the mission, research activities and infrastructures of AQUACOSM-plus and for the future.

Partners: Lead TCD, co-lead AU & GEOMAR, contributors NIOO-KNAW, IGB, METU, CSIC, NORCE

Duration: Month 1-48

A main achievement of AQUACOSM was to develop a first international cooperation between a range of leading aquatic mesocosm facilities from mountains to ocean. AQUACOSM-plus will effectively build on this foundation to invite further facilities from the European Research Area as well as globally from the virtual network mesocosm.eu in order to increase the global readiness for coordinated actions to addressing grand challenges in global changes scales. To this end, requirements from the various potential user groups will be gathered to develop a strong user community and to enlarge the currently established community by promoting the AQUACOSM and AQUACOSM-plus, its relevance and importance, its products, etc. to potential new user groups in Europe and beyond. Networking activities will follow, to foster a culture of co-operation between scientific communities, industries and other stakeholders as appropriate, and to help develop a state-of-the-art mesocosm community for global cooperation in water research. The target audience will be research and decision-making bodies from countries, which lack strong mesocosm- based experimental research activities in different domains that have regionally and/or globally important biodiversity or ecosystem services that are currently altered through global changes in Europe (central Europe), and beyond (e.g. China, S. Korea, Malaysia etc., South America and Africa). Reflecting a vision of global integration approaches and recognition that collaboration is a key element for intensive information and knowledge generation in global water solutions. Furthermore, this task will also target promoting mesocosm-based experimental research on water types not presently covered e.g. temporary water bodies, wetlands.

WP4 Breaching barriers to open mesocosm science, including open science tools and data



While the mechanisms behind Grand Challenges (GCs) are influenced by factors at continental and global scales, many RIs, including aquatic mesocosm facilities, have typically operated locally, carrying out curiosity driven basic research on limited number of questions. Bridging this mismatch and effectively investigate stressors on a wider scale would provide tools to better inform national to global measures to tackle the GCs. This requires better communication, harmonisation and access to the best research tools combined with effective open science collaboration. To foster this development in the mesocosm community, WP3 aims to build on the fundament from AQUACOSM, but strengthen the networking and training activities to further increase cooperation, communication, co-ordination, while providing more effective support and updated best practice advices.

Thus, the future mesocosm-based research will be shaped by enhanced activities of the AQUACOSM-plus community through provision of support and knowledge transfer to potential new users, specifically targeting less strong mesocosms- based research EU Member States so that EU-wide network of scientific culture can thrive, and reach out beyond globally to complimentary facilities and their users (WP2 and in cooperation with WP5, 8 & 9, Fig.1.1a,b). In order to foster globally comparable studies in the future, WP3 will ensure transfer of standardised best practice knowledge through many open channels. In addition to reports, SOPs, manuals and scientific publications produced in AQUACOSM, WP3 will continue to update these, but most importantly will make use of new media, such as online freely accessible Wiki-publications. Specific focus will be given on the training of young researchers and facility users to maximise the benefit gained from mesocosm-based research both through training in new harmonised operation procedures at all facilities such electronic data acquirement and as real-time DB-upload (WP4) as well as supporting transferral of personal skills by exchange of experienced personnel between facilities to enhance Transnational Access provision (cooperation with WP 8.5 & 9). Thus, WP3 will effectively contribute to build human capital and competitiveness of AQUACOSM-plus partner infrastructures in the European Research Area (ERA) and beyond.


D4.1 Plan for centralized data portal for mesocosm data (M06)

D4.2 Strategy documentation (M12, HCMR)

D4.3 Training video and guidance documentation for TA users (M12)

D4.4 Data management plan version 1 (M12)

D4.5 Online script and protocol library available on the project website and also published to mesocosm.eu and GitHub for ease of access and to encourage community contribution (M18)

D4.6 Improved metadata portal (M18)

D4.7 Minutes of workshop open Science Benefits(M19)

D4.8 Workflow for allocating DOI’s to TA datasets within a European open data portal (M20)

D4.9 Report of centralized data portal launch. (M24)

D4.10 Workflow for applying for AQUACOSM-plus Open Access fund (M24)

D4.11 Tools for automated QA & QC of data. (M24)

D4.12 Data management plan version 2 (M24)

D4.13 Open mesocosm science evaluation – Intermediate impact report 1 (M24)

D4.14 Virtual Access to near real-time data streams (M26)

D4.15 Online training modules on benefits to open science (M36)

D4.16 Report of the primary data portal status and use for open science primary data collection (M42)

D4.17 Open mesocosm science evaluation – Final impact report 2 (M42)

D4.18 Report on TA data available in European open data portals and the AQUACOSM-plus metadata portal and DOI’s assigned (M48)

Partners: Lead NIOO-KNAW, Co-lead UKRI Participants: BLIT, METU, HCMR, WCL, UMU, FVB-IGB, all partners

Duration: M01-48

This task aims to improve open science, advances reproducibility, allow for greater discoverability, increase collaboration, reduce implementation of unnecessary experiments, enable replication and contribute to longevity of research. This task will:

  • Provide training, through a workshop for AQUACOSM-plus participants, on how to better capitalise on the benefits of open science. The training will cover aspects such as use and reuse of open science tools, best practices in meta- and primary data archiving, best practices in acknowledging data providers and reuse of experimental data through meta analyses

  • Develop online training modules and materials on above mentioned topics which will also be available to the wider mesocosm community.

  • Create additional benefits of open science, by setting up workflows to allocate DOI’s to TA datasets. Suitable European open data portals (i.e. Pangaea, and other relevant data gateways such as EMODnet and EU INSPIRE) will be used for long-term curation. To allow easy access of all AQUACOSM-plus datasets, DOIs will be assigned to each dataset. Liaison with task 4.2, 4.3. and 4.4 will ensure that metadata and data adopt the AQUACOSM standards in archiving and curation.

  • Support TA users that publish their results in Golden Open access journals with making their data available and accessing the AQUACOSM Open Access fund

Partners: Lead HCMR, Co-lead BLIT; Participants UVIGO, UKRI, NIOO-KNAW, METU, All Partners

Duration: M01-48

This task will further develop and implement the efforts initiated in AQUACOSM including best practices in data collection, a controlled vocabulary for our metadata portal (Task 4.3.), and tools for automated QA & QC of the data. To this end, we will:

  • Develop a common strategy on best practices in reducing (meta) data heterogeneity and processes (e.g. metadata controlled vocabulary, data format interoperability, file naming conventions etc.) The strategy will be developed in liaison with task 4.1 and 4.4 and captured in the data management plan (Task 4.4), to ensure the metadata files and data files are quality assured with long-term value and can smoothly be adapted into a data portal.

  • Set-up an online protocol library where the TA users will deposit the protocols they used for collecting the data, as well as a script library.

  • Develop scripts/tools to assist with automated QA & QC of data.

  • Provide TA users with training on reducing heterogeneity before each experiment (via webinar/video and online documentation) (in close cooperation with WP3.2 summer schools and workshops for TAs). During the webinar/video, TA users will receive help and guidance concerning how and where they should upload data (Task 4.3, leading to long-term curation in Task 4.1) and metadata (Task 4.4). During the virtual instructions, TA users will be able to ask questions concerning the procedure.

Partners: Lead UMU Co-lead: Dpend; Participants: NIOO-KNAW, BLIT, FVB-IGB, UIB, UU, all partners

Duration: M01-48

To allow for capturing of primary mesocosm data, with potential wider application to all experimental data, an operational application platform will be developed and support mesocosm variables and procedures:

  • Data storage tables will be modified to handle experiments, treatments, levels and replicates for providing proper metadata. Available web forms for scientific variables will be used directly, or slightly adapted to requirements by project-partners, for entering primary data.

  • Partner tests will be conducted to identify the necessary modifications. A pilot of the platform will be installed on a server hosted by NIOO-KNAW. User access for entering and extracting data will be provided by a web interface.

  • Open-access status of the data will be achieved through liaising with existing European data portals, such as Pangaea and EMODnet (see Task 4.1 and 4.5).

Partners: Lead NIOO-KNAW, Co-lead: BLIT, Participants SYKE, UKRI, all partners

Duration: M01-48

This task sets out to further improve the FAIRness of data and metadata, which will be described in the data management plan:

  • A user survey will be carried out on the existing AQUACOSM metadata portal and the results will be used to further improve the portal.

  • The metadata portal will be embedded into the mesocosm.eu website to foster engagement in the portal from the wider mesocosm community within AQUACOSM-plus.

  • The metadata portal will be connected to other metadata platforms to increase the collection and reuse of the data across other communities.

  • A node will be set up in Pangea (with automated uploads to Dataone, Dryad, and other repositories) where mesocosm data may be deposited for easy collection and reuse.

  • The reuse of data will be promoted by running a Virtual Access pilot using near real-time data streams (especially in collaboration with WP8.5 & 9).

Partners: Lead UiB, Co-lead FVB-IGB; Participants UU, All partners

Duration: M01-48

The implementation of the open mesocosm science strategies and solutions will be assessed, in close collaboration with WP2, 3 and 9. As the science carried out in mesocosm research is of a highly collaborative nature, the need for open procedures and transparency is imperative to successful experiments. The outputs of this highly collaborative environment, fostered through WP9, but also by SC, shall be collected and visualised on the TA portal. Through this activity, the contribution of AQUACOSM-plus to open mesocosm science will become more accessible and easy to interpret and valorise.

The open mesocosm science evaluation will be achieved by:

  • Defining a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to monitor the success of AQUACOSM-plus, by visualising the projects involved, new collaborations started, publications, media attention, among others. KPIs will be tailored to mesocosm science and visualised on the AQUACOSM-plus website.
  • Database of experiments performed, number of users, countries of origin,
  • Identifying areas where improvements can be made. Producing a report of success/failure/lessons learned

WP5 Outreach activities: Communication, Dissemination and Exploitation

Lead: HCMR


WP5 aims to link the AQUACOSM-plus project with the outside world via approaching and engaging multiple audiences at various levels (scientific, industrial, educational and general public) and encourage their interaction with the project. To achieve these goals, an efficient outreach strategy will be implemented, the partners’ communication skills will be improved and the outreach strategy of AQUACOSM project will be reviewed (Task 5.1). The main communication and dissemination channel will be the project’s website, which will also host the Transnational Access portal including the Project Tracker (Task 5.2); AQUACOSM- plus will continue to actively communicate the announcements and ΤΑ calls through all major social media platforms (Task 5.2). The scientific community will be approached via conventional and modern dissemination tools (Task 5.3). Industrial providers and SMEs with interest on mesocosms will be approached via the AQUACOSM Innovation Forums (ACIF) (Task 5.4). Finally, students (elementary school to university level), as well as the general public will be engaged to raise awareness on ecological/environmental issues and shape the next-generation of aquatic scientists while further dissemination actions will target decision-making bodies and NGO-networks (Task 5.5).


D5.1 Website updated (M03)

D5.2 TA portal and Project Tracker (M03)

D5.3 Action plan for engaging with industry (M06)

D5.4 Outreach Activities (M18)

D5.5 Action plan for engaging with industry (M18)

D5.6 Outreach Activities (M36)

D5.7 Case-study on the impact of mesocosm studies on contemporary environmental issues (M36)

D5.8 Action plan for engaging with industry (M36)

D5.9 Outreach Activities and Education Materials (M48)

Partners: Lead: HCMR, co-lead: UiB, FVB-IGB, Contributors: NORCE, UniVigo and all partners

Duration: Month 1-48

The following actions will be taken:

  • Outreach strategy meetings: A meeting will be organised during the kick-off meeting to develop the outreach strategy. A second meeting, in M24, will review and update the strategy.
  • Online polls: To monitor impact of the outreach activities, two online polls will be held. At the beginning of the project, all AQUACOSM TA applicants will be invited to answer to questions on the level of visibility of the project and on how the applicants learned about the TA calls. The outcome of the poll will help to improve the promotion of the TA calls. A second poll will be held towards the end of the project.
  • Training on science communication will be provided to all partners at the beginning of the project. Links to WP3, 9. polls and science communication workshop will be organised in collaboration with WP3. The results of the first poll will be shared with WP9 to improve the TA application procedure.

Partners: Lead: BLIT, co-lead: FVB-IGB, UiB, HCMR, Contributors: NORCE, CSIC and all partners

Duration: Month 1-48

  • The project website (www.aquacosm.eu) will remain the core platform to promote the AQUACOSM-plus project. It will receive a design update, and as the project develops, it will become more data- and product- centric to reflect the increase in metadata and data that become available. The facilities’ information will be updated and the new AQUACOSM-plus partners’ facilities will be incorporated.

  • The TA portal, developed and used by AQUACOSM, will be further extended to improve information and opportunities for TA applicants, dissemination of TA calls, and the transparent processing of TA applications by reviewers, all monitored by the TA team. A new tool, an interactive web-based Project Tracker, will improve near real-time communication for international open planning of TA activities (in cooperation with WP9). It will operate via a contributor module (developed in WP8.5) in close collaboration with WP6 and the facility providers (WP9). With this, TA applicants will be able to reach experts within the consortium for support in design and execution of mesocosm experiments.

  • The project branding will be reviewed and support will be provided across WP’s/Partners for the production of communication materials (leaflets, posters, publicity materials etc).

  • All major social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, ResearchGate) of the AQUACOSM project will be used by AQUACOSM-plus. Additional accounts on YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram will be created.

  • Three project flyers will be produced and distributed during scientific meetings etc. The first flyer will describe the project in general (scope, partners, main activities), the second one will focus on TA activities and calls (requirements, application and evaluation procedures, etc) while the third will promote the collaboration with industry (Industry TA calls, opportunities for further collaboration, etc).

  • Throughout the duration of the project, newsletters will be created on a six-month basis.

Links to all WPs: all WPs will present, organise and communicate their activities via the website and social media. TA portal and Project Tracker are connected with WP6, 8 and 9.

Partners: Lead HCMR, co-lead FVB-IGB, Contributors CSIC, UVIGO, METU, CNRS-CEREEP, UniVigo, GEOMAR,

Duration: Month 1-48

The scientific community is one of the main targets for the dissemination of the project’s results and the promotion of TA calls. Both conventional and modern dissemination tools will be used.

  • At the beginning of the project, a brief presentation of the project will be distributed to the main scientific networks and associations as well as science related blogs and journals.
  • The mail list, created during AQUACOSM, will be updated and used to distribute the project announcements. To promote competence transfer, new members of mesocosm.eu will be targeted.
  • The results from the TA experiments and JRAs will be presented in international scientific meetings, workshops and conferences. Dedicated sessions focused on mesocosm research will be organised in selected meetings (such as ASLO, EGU, SIL, etc). Selected presentations will be recorded and uploaded on the project’s YouTube channel. Also, the output from WP6 meetings on Grand Challenges will be disseminated in dedicated sessions at EGU and ASLO meetings in 2021.
  • The TA experiments’ results will be presented in a series of webinars open to everyone (in collaboration with WP3). A Q&A session after the presentations will allow the dialog between partners, TA users and the scientific community. The presentations will be uploaded on the project’s YouTube channel.
  • Webinars on TA will be organised in order to present the TA scheme, the application procedure as well as a short presentation of each TA experiment. A Q&A session will follow every webinar.
  • The scientific results of AQUACOSM-plus will be published in peer-reviewed journals. Results from selected TA, JRA and NA actions, including the opinion papers generated at Summits and WS in WP6, will be published in leading special issues on selected journals, when convenient in combination with hosting workshops and special sessions at key meetings like ASLO, EGU, SIL, SEFS, or GLEON.
  • At the end of the project, a symposium will be organised for the presentation of the results of the TA experiments and JRAs in collaboration with WP3.

Links to WP3, 6, 7, 8, 9: Webinars and conference sessions will be organised in collaboration with WP3 as part of WP3’s networking activities. The dissemination of TA calls and the respective webinars are linked with WP9. The results of JRAs (WP7 and 8) and TA experiments (WP9) will be disseminated by WP5. WP5 and WP6 are linked through the publications generated at the AQUASummit.

Partners: Lead: NORCE, Contributors: FVB-IGB, UKRI, RSK, GEOMAR, METU, CSIC, AirClim

Duration: Month 6-42

The purpose of this task is to progress further on elaborating the AQUACOSM Business case and developing services to industries and SMEs. It will provide a logistic and communication support to task 2.3. We will build upon achievements from the previous AQUACOSM project and strengthen the link between AQUACOSM and specific companies that have shown interest in mesocosms for their business activities. The objective is to identify and exploit 3-4 concrete examples of partnership with industry (success-stories) and build upon those to attract more partnership.

Task 5.4 will also make the link between task 2.3 and the transnational access actions with the goal of raise awareness and interest on TA among targeted private stakeholders. Consultation and dialogue with the industry will be pursued throughout AQUACOSM-plus. The AQUACOSM Innovation Forum (ACIF), established during AQUACOSM project, will be continued and extended if possible, as new partnership would engage in using mesocosms. The ACIF will be a link between AQUACOSM’s scientific community and both industrial providers of mesocosm technologies and industrial users of the facilities. This chain of value will create synergy for maximising innovation and economic output. Focus will be given to industry actors from water treatment, IEA and aquaculture, and to developers of aquatic environmental sensors. Nevertheless, unforeseen opportunities will also be evaluated and seized, if considered as Strategically important. Task 2.3 will advise on the strategic relevance of these opportunities.

Task 5.4 will link to WP4 in order to promote open Aquatic mesocosm science as a vector of partnership with companies (especially SMEs). New technologies developed in WP7 will be promoted towards industry stakeholders. The common IT-structure for archiving primary data, developed in WP4 will be considered as another vector of collaboration with the private sector.

Partners: Lead: NORCE, co-lead: CNRS-CEREEP, HCMR, Contributors: CSIC, UniVigo, METU, AirClim, RSK,

Duration: Month 1-48

This task aims at (1) building on human capacity in aquatic and mesocosm-based research via connecting the project with education at all levels (from elementary school to university); (2) increasing the public awareness on environmental issues, (3) informing European taxpayers about EU-funded research and (4) engaging with decision-making bodies and NGOs.

  • At the beginning of the project, a press-release will be produced and distributed to all major national and international press media presenting the project and its scopes. This will be repeated for selected experiments and JRAs as well as when significant results are produced.
  • Easy-to-read articles about project activities (TA experiments and JRAs) will be published on the website and distributed through social and press media.
  • Partners will regularly participate to open-days and other public events (e.g. European Researcher’s Night, TEDx talks). School and University student visits to facilities will be organised.
  • To maintain a regular contact with the public, a Q&A portal (“ask the aquatic scientists”) open to everyone will be implemented on the website. The questions and answers will be posted on the website.
  • Videos presenting JRAs and selected TA experiments will be produced and uploaded on the project’s YouTube channel.
  • Teaching materials produced by AQUACOSM for both pupils and university students will be used and further developed. In addition, a lecture for High School students on aquatic research and mesocosm-based experimentation will be developed.
  • In collaboration with national ministries of education, a European school contest will be organised. The theme of this contest will be related to ecological challenges of aquatic ecosystems.
  • School mentoring will be organised: Partners will be encouraged to “mentor” schools and arrange virtual meetings with students (e.g. via Skype calls) for Q&A sessions on aquatic research.
  • Dedicated TA calls for university students as trainees will open in order to make the application for students easier, more attractive and efficient.
  • A case-study on the impact of mesocosm work on contemporary environmental issues (exemplified by climate change, acidification) targeting policymakers & environmental NGOs and their members will be produced; it will include dissemination in publications by AirClim’s and other NGOs, and by participation in relevant policy meetings. Target organisations include decision-making bodies and NGO-networks such as IPCC, IMO, the European Environmental Bureau EEB, Climate Action Network CAN, etc.

Links to all WPs for the communication of the main findings to the general public and university students. WP5 will specifically collaborate with WP9 TA outreach and with WP3 on the engaging with policymakers.

WP6 Defining Grand Challenges in aquatic mesocosm research

Lead: WCL


Work package 6 will provide a conceptual roadmap for facilitating cutting-edge solution-oriented research tackling grand challenges in AQUACOSM-plus JRA and TA (WP 8 & 9).

The AQUACOSM network provides access to the most advanced mesocosm facilities across Europe, and spans from alpine lakes over lowland waters to coastal and open ocean systems. These sites hence cover virtually all aquatic habitats and ecoregions found in Europe (Fig.3.3), and allow for analysing effects and mitigation measures of virtually all aquatic habitats and problems connected to them. On top of that, several of the partner sites in AQUACOSM-plus are involved in monitoring programs, which are part of other H2020 research infrastructure (IR) programs (e.g. JERICO, LTER, ICOS, DANUBIUS, AnaEE: Table 1.1). 

Long-term data of their sites allows formulating specific research questions in the context of site-specific ongoing environmental change including climate change, pollution and other disturbances on the ecosystem.

The principal aim of WP6 is to foster leading-edge research on the RIs present in AQUACOSM-plus and beyond in terms of addressing the most pressing scientific questions e.g. in the context of climate change, biodiversity loss, emerging pollutants and other disturbances on aquatic ecosystems, but also exploring the possibilities for of nature-based solutions in the field. WP6 will achieve this goal by bringing together experimentalists, modellers, and representatives from other relevant RIs and by involving stakeholders of key sites for facilitating to apply cutting-edge methods and theories to the most pressing environmental problems related to the ecology of surface waters.


D6.1 Catalogue of grand challenges, also published on project tracker (M08)

D6.2 Manuscript for Opinion paper (M12)

D6.3 Manuscript for Concept paper AquaSUMMIT 1 (M12)

D6.4 Meta-analysis manuscript (M24)

D6.5 Manuscript for Empirical paper AquaSUMMIT 2 (M36)

Partners: Lead WCL, Co-lead GEOMAR, Participants METU, CSIC, HCMR, FVB-IGB, all partners

Duration: Month 1-7

A symposium on mesocosm-based aquatic research will be organised early in the project (M6). This Symposium will identify how grand challenges in aquatic ecology (see overview below) can best be addressed using mesocosm infrastructures, and will involve participants from all project partners. The agenda for the symposium will be prepared at the Kick-Off meeting in M1 April 2020, Hungary).

WP6.1 also aims at stimulating RI-RI collaboration of AQUACOSM-plus sites with other RIs. To this end, representatives from other RIs that are part of AQUACOSM-plus sites (e.g. JERICO, LTER, ICOS DANUBIUS, see Table 1.1), together with stakeholders, will be involved in WP6.1. Relevant future scenarios and emerging challenges will be discussed and research needs deduced. The symposium will be used to develop and design experimental actions tackling grand challenges, both through TA provided by existing facilities (WP 9 & WP8.4) as well as through co-developed pilot experimental actions by newly established as well as existing AQUACOSM-plus facilities (WP 8.1-8.3). This includes employing mobile mesocosm infrastructures developed in WP7 at a DANUBIUS site in Romania (WP8.1). The output from the symposium will be disseminated to WP8 and WP9 by direct involvement of all AQUACOSM-plus facility providers in the symposium (see D8.5 in WP8). To disseminate the results of the symposium to the wider research community and TA users, a catalogue of research questions and strategy for experimental research will be made available online (mesocosm.eu; project tracker in WP5), that will specifically suggest themes for coordinated experiments among the facilities offering TA - this will feed into WP8.5 and WP9, as described there. By organising targeted workshops at international meetings early in the project (Feb/Mar 2021; ASLO & EGU; organised in WP5) as well as by publishing two high profile opinion papers, we will further channelise the output and join forces for tackling grand challenges in aquatic ecology.

Overview of grand challenges to be addressed on the Symposium

Environmental threats

Impacts of Global-Change related pressures on ecosystem processes

  • Aridification, secondary Salinization (S-Europe); De-salinization (Baltic Sea)
  • Harmful algal blooms (both freshwater & coastal)
  • Atmospheric deposition

Aspects of ecosystem stability

Assessing the response of communities to disturbances in terms of stability & resilience

  • Multiple dimensions of stability
  • Non-linear responses and thresholds (tipping ponds; regime shifts)
  • Compensatory dynamics; Impacts of changing means and variance in environmental drivers

Nature-based solutions

Analyzing the remediation potential behind relevant mitigation measures, and also their possible side-effects

  • Alkalinisation (aka human-induced weathering) to compensate CO2 emissions
  • The bioremediation potential of biomanipulation in reservoirs in order to minimize greenhouse gas emissions
  • Bioremediation potential in marine sites to minimize the effects of major oil spills (PAHs)

Partners: Lead METU/Beklioğlu; co- lead CSIC/Matias, involved: highly reputable young (fem) scientists

Duration: Month 7-42

For enhancing the impact of AQUACOSM-plus as well as AQUACOSM, AquaSUMMITs will generate manuscripts at two writing retreats aiming at publishing high-impact publications. Young and highly reputable scientist together with early career scientists that participated in TA actions and co-designed experiments resulting from the Symposium in tasks 6.1, will be invited to AquaSUMMITs for producing high impact articles. Additionally, early-career and highly reputable scientists from outside the consortium will also be invited to the AquaSUMMITs in order bring different perspectives to the retreat that will promote innovations and “out-of-the-box” solutions to tackle the knowledge and data demand of global grand challenges. The first retreat will focus on developing conceptual frameworks to address each of the target grand challenges and is scheduled to take place early in the project, in conjunction with the “Grand challenges” Symposium (6.1; M6). This first retreat is expected to deliver conceptual papers (Deliverables 6.3-6.5) that will set the stage for more data-driven outputs produced in the second retreat (Deliverables 6.4- 6.6). A second, more data driven retreat, making use of experimental data from experiments implemented in WPs 8 and 9 in AQUACOSM and AQUACOSM-plus, will take place in 2022 (M30), in conjunction with the general assembly in Romania (M30). Participants in the second retreat will produce evidence-based publications on grand challenges identified in 6.1 (D6.5) and will benefit from participating in the synthesis- and meta-analysis workshop (Task 6.3).

Partners: Lead UOL, co-lead UU, Participants: all partners

Duration: Month 15-24

Mesocosm experiments are poised to provide essential information on the response of aquatic ecosystems to current and future environmental change. At the same time, such results tend to be context-specific in the sense that the technical structure of the facility constrains treatments, sampling interval and volume, responses measured etc. In order to generalise findings across settings, methods for quantitative synthesis have been developed in the form of meta-analyses and mega-analyses, the former treating single experiments as independent studies, the latter explicitly including the non-random error structure across experiments in a single model. Partner UOL has strong expertise in both aspects and offers a two-stage workshop for AQUACOSM-plus. The first day will consist of a tutorial in research synthesis including a hands-on seminar of meta- and mega-analyses using R. The second day will allow small groups to work on research questions arising from a pre-meeting allocation of topics and identification of data. The focal group of the workshop are younger scientists developing with strong interests in conceptual ecology and data analysis.

WP7 Towards transformative mesocosm research – breaking the spatial and temporal barriers of aquatic ecosystem experimentation

Lead: SYKE


AQUACOSM-plus WP7 builds on the JRA developments in AQUACOSM, by introducing a series of new approaches to reach the next level in tackling prevailing historical restrictions of non-standard, spatially fixed mesocosm facilities (Task 7.1), as well as methodological restrictions in obtaining high-frequency data on aquatic community change (Task 7.2) and greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes (Task 7.3). For the latter, development and testing of benthic mesocosms for use in soft sediments is also carried out. These JRAs create new Technological Readiness Levels needed for effective process studies and modelling, on the temporal and spatial scales required for experimental aquatic research tackling climate change-related Grand Challenges.


D7.1 Report on prototype of affordable sensor system (M12)

D7.2 Report on prototype of self-flushing chamber and GHG sensor system with data logging and communication (M12)

D7.3 Report on Workshop on AI in imaging recognition techniques (M16)

D7.4 Report on light-weight raft systems to carry 12 mesocosms (M20)

D7.5 Report on GHG hands-on Workshop (M30)

D7.6 Test results of benthic mesocosm and raft system combined with developed chambers and sensors (M38)

D7.7 Report on performance of various imaging instruments in identification of planktonic food web compartments (M42)

Partners: Lead LMU, co-lead CNRS-MARBEC, Contributors UH, SYKE, WCL, CNRS-CEREEP

Duration: Month 1-32

Task 7.1 aims to circumvent the bottleneck of local availability of extensive laboratory and human resources by developing a mobile, affordable, light-weight mesocosm platform (Sub-task 7.1.1), and building on the semi-automated sensor and data retrieval developments in AQUACOSM, to development and testing of affordable sensor packages (Sub-task 7.1.2).

Sub-task 7.1.1 Mobilised planktonic mesocosm platforms (Lead LMU, Contributors: CNRS-MARBEC, UH, SYKE, CNRS-CEREEP, UMU)

Mesocosm experiments have been major undertakings, most often based on construction and long-term maintenance of extensive local facilities to set up experiments, as well as on parallel local availability of extensive laboratory facilities and human resources for the measurement campaigns. This limits the capacity to investigate ecological and socio-economical impacts on various systems on regional to international scales. In AQUACOSM, development of standardised field mesocosm designs was initiated with the specific task of verifying an ice-tolerant construction. A low-cost, light-weight, and easily transportable version of a mesocosm platform would allow standardised experimental conditions to be effectively applied over Europe- wide geographical and environmental gradients. It would also enhance collaboration with observational environmental RIs by increased experiment co-location with their fixed observatories.

We will construct two mobile dismountable raft systems (12-20 m2), each supporting up to 12 mesocosms plus potential energy supply and sensor systems. Flexible construction of the rafts (from connectable reinforced plastic modules) allows using mesocosms with diameters between ~1 and 1.5 metres and depths ranging from 2 to 16 metres. Mesocosms will be constructed from 200 μm thickness LDPE tubes, the conical bottom will be heat-sealed and include a suspension attachment for weights up to 10 kg.

Sub-task 7.1.2 Affordable sensor packages (Lead CNRS-MARBEC, Contributors: SYKE, WCL, AU)

We will explore the possibilities and constrains of low-cost sensor systems, similar to those used in Citizen Science projects. There are convincing examples of a successful integration of such sensor systems into large observational research programs. These sensor systems are used to monitor environmental parameters such as water temperature, conductivity, light levels, dissolved oxygen or chlorophyll a.

We will develop low-cost sensor systems by comparing their data with that of Lamp Sensor System as a more sophisticate sensor system, developed in AQUACOSM (WP8). The integration of semi-automatised low-cost sensors into low-cost mesocosm platforms will allow the collection of a few selected, but potentially important, data at high frequency monitoring at multiple sites, and at experimental sites where high-end infrastructure is not necessarily available yet.

Partners: Lead: SYKE, co-lead FVB-IGB, Contributors: NORCE, WCL

Duration: Month 1-48

A pertinent challenge in planktonic community ecology has been the bottleneck of acquiring species-level

information of communities. Because of their high turnover, the dynamics of planktonic communities should be studied using high-resolution experimentation, which is still prevented by the time-consuming analysis of species-level abundance data by traditional methods.

Recent technological advances have led to emergence of automated imaging instruments, with fast-improving resolution and output rates, up to tens of thousands of images per hour. It is becoming possible to produce real-time Big Data of plankton communities. This allows testing of core ecological hypotheses, originally derived from macroscopic realms, in the microbial planktonic food webs: ranging from community ecology to biodiversity research and ecosystem functioning.

AQUACOSM partners have initiated research on several high-frequency imaging techniques, in combination with the required application of advanced machine learning techniques, for phytoplankton and zooplankton species identification. Task 7.2 will harness these break-through developments and apply them for the first time to mesocosm experimentation at a large scale.

The automated imaging instruments (SYKE, FVB-IGB) to be tested in the mesocosm settings, and verified against traditional methods (microscopy, particle counting, flow cytometry), including two of Europe’s first three Imaging FlowCytobot instruments (McLane Labs) for phytoplankton and smaller microzooplankton, Cytosense (CytoBuoy), several FlowCam versions (Fluid Imaging Technologies), Mini Deep Focus Plankton Imager (Bellamare) for in situ imaging of mesozooplankton, LISST Holo2 for holographic detection of zooplankton and aggregates, Amnis® ImageStream®X Mark II Imaging Flow Cytometer (MERC) for combined flow cytometry and microscopy of phytoplankton and bacteria, and LISST 200-X (Sequoia) laser diffraction particle counter. Most importantly, the imaging Big Data provided by these instruments will be analysed by the latest image recognition developments in AI (Artificial Intelligence: computer vision and machine learning), applying advanced Deep Learning techniques (all contributors). The success of species identification between different instrument settings, and between proprietary software and the developed Open Source neural network solutions, will be addressed and reported.

Partners: Lead AU, co- lead UU, Contributors: LMU, CNRS-MARBEC, SYKE, UH, MET

Duration: Month 1-36

Experimental testing of the role of aquatic systems in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and carbon uptake is critical to understand the driving mechanisms of gas fluxes between aquatic systems and the atmosphere. CO2 dynamics vary over short time scales (hourly, diurnally) and CH4 emissions in shallow waters are dominated by bubble release (ebullition), which is episodic in nature and therefore highly discrete in space and time. In order to address this, we will explore the potential for developing near-continuous measurements in mesocosm-scale experiments using low cost, low energy demanding sensors for CO2 (infra-red sensors) and CH4 (a solid state, semi-conductor system). Low-cost solutions to data storage and remote data transfer will be developed in collaboration with 7.1.2.

To develop an autonomous system capable of near continuous measurement of GHGs in mesocosm experiments, we will construct and test chambers capable of self-flushing or venting. The sensors and chambers will be combined in a stand-alone unit capable of measuring GHG fluxes several times over a diurnal cycle, at a cost low enough to allow their routine use in multiple mesocosm experiments. The units will be tested at several locations in combination with other established methods of GHG analysis within the consortium. There will in addition be a joint test/harmonisation workshop (AU, UU, UH and SYKE).

Finally, as aquatic GHG emissions are especially relevant in shallow waters, both fresh, estuarine and marine, it is critical to include benthic processes and sediments in the system. Therefore, task 7.3 will build on the work in 7.1.1 to adapt the raft and mesocosm system for use in shallow waters including sediments, development and testing benthic mesocosms for use in soft sediments.

WP8 Pilot execution of Grand Challenge scenario-testing through bridging scales of experimental and observational RI networks

Lead: LMU


The enhanced mobility for mesocosm experimentation, through technological developments in WP7 and the expanded network of unique mesocosm facilities within AQUACOSM-plus, as well as the development of the first ice and wave resistant pelagic mesocosms from AQUACOSM will be exploited in WP8. Both within the enlarged AQUACOSM-plus consortium (Task 8.1), and piloting co-design of research with European observational RI networks (JERICO-S3, ICOS, LTER, DANUBIUS) in the continental (Task 8.2) and coastal marine domains (Task 8.3). In addition, the performance of the new ice-resistant Aquacosm- mesocosms will be tested by conducting a full-scale over-wintering experiment under Arctic relevant conditions (Task 8.4). Lastly, synergies will be created through the combination of the new international co-design and optimisation of experimental approaches (identified in WP6, Training in WP3, and Project Tracker in WP5) and the Transnational Access (TA) offered. This will be achieved by coordinating cross-facility joint research activities, to ensure effective capacity building and experimental harmonisation and novel high-throughput analytic approaches**, not previously available at all sites (Task 8.5).

All tasks will specifically aim at breaking existing communication barriers within the European environmental RI landscape, paving the way to sustainable and integrated, mission-oriented multi-domain collaboration and co-designed research of RI networks. The network RI-RI collaboration in AQUACOSM-plus will be based on shared partnerships and co-location of observational and AQUACOSM- plus mesocosm facilities. The light-weight mesocosm platforms (WP7.1) will also be mobilised to geographical areas currently represented by observatories of other RI networks, but lacking mesocosm facilities so far. Special emphasis will be put on establishing new and integrating recent aquatic mesocosm facilities in south Eastern European member states, specifically supporting the DANUBIUS-RI/PP initiative (danubius-pp.eu).


D8.1 Report on experimental strategies to test Grand Challenges (M6)

D8.2 Expert contributor module available on TA portal (M6)

D8.3 Report on JRA-TA partnership programme (M30)

D8.4 Report on joint investigations in controlled high-tech and natural low-tech sites for a better understanding of long-term processes (M42)

D8.5 Report on boundary conditions for winter mesocosms (M44)

D8.6 Summary report on success of JRA-strategies in WP8.1&8.3 (M46)

Partners: Lead LMU, co-lead UH, participation ICBCN, WCL

Duration: Month 6-46

Key research challenges identified in WP6 will be tackled by the consortium by strategies employing the light-weight mobile mesocosm units and sensor systems developed in WP 7.1 and 7.3 which will be available for task 8.1 after M 18. Experimental strategies would include a unified experimental design, which would support making predictions on larger spatial scales (D.8.1). Such confrontation of Grand Challenges by experimentation could, for example, include a demonstration of the experimental investigation and identification of tipping points related to observed regime shifts from long term monitoring. Ecologists have long recognised that ecosystems can exist and function in one state within predictable bounds for extended periods of time and then abruptly shift to an alternate state. Large or incremental alterations in climate, land use, biodiversity and biogeochemical cycles represent external and internal drivers that could lead to such ecosystem regime shifts, causing a major change in the system’s structure, function, or dynamics. Recognising the tipping point after the fact and ascribing mechanisms to the change is only one research avenue. Predicting them using concept-based knowledge and empirical data has been a bigger challenge. Mesocosm experimentation is a crucial tool to investigate potential mechanisms behind tipping points leading to regime shifts, thereby adding further necessary knowledge for improved predictions.

We will demonstrate an experimental investigation of such processes using mobile mesocosm systems and sensor systems developed in AQUACOSM plus 7.1 and 7.3 within a DANUBIUS site in Romania. We will analyse potential tipping points in pelagic and benthic–pelagic ecosystem functioning related to heavy rain effects and associated terrestrial runoff (D8.6).

Partners: Lead CSIC, co-lead OK-CER and UÉ, participation WCL

AQUACOSM-plus freshwater facilities sharing geographical proximity with LTER, DANUBIUS and ICOS sites will collaborate on the implementation of a multi-site mesocosm network based on the Iberian Pond Network (IPN, see WP9.17 for details). The IPN represents an affordable low-investment solution for testing aquatic community responses to environmental change across large spatial scales. Specially targeted areas, where direct collaboration may effectively initiate and support local development of new strategically important research infrastructures, will be chosen. CSIC and UE will coordinate site-selection and installation of pilot mesocosm arrays with partners in Hungary. In Hungary, the CER Mesocosms (OK-CER see WP9.2) will be used for short-term (i.e. few months) experiments on climate change scenarios to obtain high-resolution data on temporal dynamics, under controlled conditions. Also, a geographically distributed network of affordable mesocosms will be used for studies following the IPN design (HPN – Hungarian Pond Network) and protocol of long-term (i.e. years) climate change-related studies. High-resolution data from controlled sites and long-term data from more natural sites can contribute to better understanding on increased climate variability, including extreme events, and long-term processes (D8.4). Several expeditions are planned including installation of temperature control and monitoring systems. We will combine joint research activity on these sites with a WP3 summer school/workshop to introduce students and early career researcher to theoretical and practical issues of mesocosm research.

Deliverables: D8.4: Short and long-term climate change experiments [42] Short and long-term experiments

Partners: Lead SYKE, co-lead HCMR, participation CNRS-MARBEC, UH

Duration: Month 24-46

This task will be based on joint partnerships, and thus co-location of facilities in other environmental RI networks, and it will co-develop research actions between experimental AQUACOSM-plus facilities and observational RI networks at coastal marine environments.

The AQUACOSM-plus marine facilities sharing geographical proximity with JERICO-S3, ICOS, LTER and other observational RI sites (see Table 1.1) will develop regional strategies for joint experimental actions.

A specific marine co-development will concentrate on addressing harmonised mesocosm research at the JERICO-S3 (proposal submitted to 20.3.2019 INFRAIA Call) Pilot Supersites (PSS) co-located with AQUACOSM-plus facilities: in the northern Baltic Sea (UH, SYKE; see WP9.22 and 9.10), and in the Western and Eastern Mediterranean basins. Potential mesocosm experimental actions will amplify the JERICO-S3 time series observations by experimentally created scenarios of climate change-related disturbances. Emphasis will be on contributing in improved (regional adaptation) phytoplankton group identification/quantification by in situ sensors, as well as by comparison of PSS data obtained under extreme events, with mesocosm simulations of extreme atmospheric events. Climate change has generated growing interest in extreme events; there is general concern that extremes become more common in ecosystem time series. Extremes are known to have important consequences for ecosystems as abiotic variables in part drive biological variables. Biological extremes resulting from abiotic extremes are hindering to predict future population developments as a set of norms from the past. Such processes can operate within short time scales, thereby mechanistically investigable in mesocosm experiments. Task 8.3 will demonstrate an experimental mesocosm investigation of such an extreme event, namely a heatwave in the Baltic Sea at an existing infrastructure located within a consortium PSS (UH, SYKE; D 8.6)

Partners: Lead UMU, co-lead IGB, participation NORCE

Duration: Month 16-44

One of the major consequences of climate change in temperate and arctic climates is reduced ice cover of aquatic environments, regarding ice thickness and quality as well as winter-period length and the duration of ice coverage. Due to the expected influence of ice coverage and snow on light irradiation and its spectral quality, profound impact on the aquatic ecosystem productivity, vulnerability to parasites (e.g. chytrid infections are likely temperature limited) and biodiversity is hypothesised. In addition, projected increased winter precipitation may enhance spring freshwater discharge and associated amounts of dissolved organic matter to the coastal zone leading to ocean and lake brownification.

This task will conduct the first comparative winter experiments in Arctic like conditions between indoor tanks with ice-capability at Umeå University and ice-capable outdoor mesocosms. This is now possible by using the first ice-resistant mesocosms developed in AQUACOSM to be deployed at predictable sub-Arctic ice conditions in the northern Baltic Sea. Additionally, we will set the boundary conditions (e.g. experimental duration, light irradiance, detection level of sparse plankton winter communities) and statistical power for winter mesocosm studies based on wintertime long-term replicate variance (D8.5). Task 8.4 will also test the relevance of easily accessible Huminfeed (HuminTech GmbH) for large scale enrichment in mesocosms as compared with natural concentrate of DOM.

Briefly, 9 Aquacosms will be moored during winter in the NW Baltic Sea. Nine in-door mesocosm with ice- forming capacity at MF-UMF will be filled with water from the same site. Sensor variables are monitored including light irradiance, temperature, salinity major nutrients, DOC, and abundance of major plankton groups.

Partners: Lead FVB-IGB, co-lead UIB, UU, participation WCL

Duration: Month 1-45

To foster interactive participation of experts from the individual AQUACOSM-plus facilities and external TA users this task will ensure optimal co-design and coordination of mesocosm experiments. A specific aim is to support the TA provision in WP9 and necessary optimisation procedures to experimental actions that tackle Grand Challenges defined in WP 6.1. TA will be based on coordinated experimental approaches suggested by the leading scientific community through activities in WP6. A new interactive web-based “Project Tracker” included in the TA portal will improve near real-time communication for international open planning of TA activities (WP5). Task 8.5 will specifically develop an expert contributor module (D8.2) based on the Project Tracker, in close collaboration with WP6 and the facility providers (WP9), where TA applicants shall be able to reach experts within the consortium for support in the design and execution of the planned mesocosm experiment. The support will include both in-person (presence in the experiment) and remote assistance as needed. The overall aim is to enhance the scientific quality and impact on each experiment through personalised support and guidance. This will lead to rapid knowledge exchange between all partners and TA users, and thus effective increase in competence, standardisation and harmonisation across all AQUACOSM-plus partner facilities. It will also increase the outcome of each mesocosm experiment by including a greater number of advanced capabilities, expertise and know-how across the AQUACOSM-plus facilities. WP8.5 will also collaborate with WP4.4 to promote near real-time data streams, use and reuse of data through a Virtual Access pilot at the TA activities.

For new partners within AQUACOSM-plus a “JRA-TA partnership programme” will be implemented, where each new facility is assigned to a more experienced facility in relation to TA provision (D8.3). Facilities with experience from TA provision from MESOAQUA and/or AQUACOSM, will help new facilities in AQUACOSM-plus in preparing, conducting and performing TA activities. This partnership programme aims at competence building of entire facilities, and is thus different from the training of individuals offered in WP3 (TA training of individuals at Summer schools or WS).To guarantee efficient and harmonised TA activities, meetings may be organised before and after specific experiments to enable close collaboration between all involved TA providers during planning, implementation and follow-up of TA activities.

This will lead to rapid knowledge exchange between all partners and TA users, and thus effective increase in competence, standardisation and harmonisation across all AQUACOSM-plus partner facilities. It will also increase the outcome of each mesocosm experiment by including a greater number of advanced capabilities, expertise and know-how across the AQUACOSM-plus facilities.

WP9 TA: Provision of transnational access to all AQUACOSM-plus facilities 



AQUACOSM-plus WP9 builds on the experience gained from FP7 MESOAQUA and H2020 AQUACOSM to offer wider, simplified and more efficient Transnational Access (TA) to the leading mesocosm research infrastructures in Europe. We will increase the total number of TA to >13,000 person-days by significantly widening the network and scope of services offered through TA in concert with improved cost efficiencies in the TA activities (see Section1). The strategic extension of AQUACOSM-plus partners, (from 21 to ≥30 as defined on page 1) and number of open mesocosm facilities (from 37 to >60), extends access to cover a broader biogeographic range across Europe (Fig.3.3). AQUACOSM-plus will include new partners, such as a recently established facility in Hungary (WP9.2) and network-within-networks, e.g. the IBERIAN PONDS (WP9.x) and the 5 SITES AquaNET facilities (WP9.12), the latter serving as a national test-bed of coordinated activities for future integration of the entire AQUACOSM-plus-community and other RIs in Europe and worldwide. This will facilitate co-designed European, and to some extent even global experiments through mesocosm.eu voluntary associated partnership (Fig.1.1.a,b), combined with open data interpretation and publication, and boost the global extension of coordinated activities by including strategic partners from the virtual mesocosm.eu network. We aim to foster a new generation of direct global cross-disciplinary collaboration, which will be guided by a strategic suite of activities in WP3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9.

TA will be offered to a wider community by broadening the outreach (WP5): 1) though actively including the global mesocosm.eu network; 2) though enhancing the possibilities for participation in practical and conceptual planning processes at WP6 summits; 3) through open access to the “Project Tracker” (WP5.2); 4) through networking via AQUACOSM-plus’ industry-targeted Innovation Forum (ACIF, WP1 and 2). AQUACOSM-plus emphasises TA user needs by 1) offering pre- and post-training to new users to maximise the transfer of knowledge gained during the last years-decades to the next generation fostering capacity building during TA activities (WP3), 2) enhancing TA by further improving infrastructure management and service provision by means of optimised, harmonised and coordinated access procedures in cooperation with WP8 and WP4.4 to promote near real-time data streams, use and reuse of data through a Virtual Access pilot at the TA activities. Specifically, AQUACOSM-plus will offer a new “JRA-TA-partnership programme” (WP8.5). Duplication of effort will be minimised and resource use efficiency increased by designing internationally harmonised experiments targeting the most pertinent Global Grand Challenges (WP6). To further ensure effective open data flow for both JRA and TA activities WP 9 will largely benefit from new developments in WP4, such as quantitative KPIs tailored to TA activities, primary data collection, data visualisation, a metadata catalogue, and an open database. Overall, AQUACOSM-plus will offer a much more integrated TA activity expected to yield a number of new advanced services and thus stronger impact, compared with previous projects.

Lead: FVB-IGB, Co-Lead: UIB, UU; Contributions: All partners

WP9 will be led by Partner 1, FVB-IGB (Berger), assisted by Partner 6, UIB (Tsagaraki), Partner 15, UU (Langenheder), Partner 1, FVB-IGB (Makower), and the Project Coordinator at FVB-IGB (Nejstgaard) with contributions from all partners. Standardised procedures for TA will be followed across all partner facilities. General information on core elements of WP9 shared among all infrastructures is given here. They relate to Outreach to New Users, Review Procedures, Modality of Access, and Support and Services offered. Detailed descriptions and specificities applicable to the individual partner infrastructures are described in Tasks 9.1 to 9.28. The TA application process and administrative procedures before and during TA activities will be coordinated in WP1 and WP8.4 for all mesocosm infrastructures in AQUACOSM-plus. Each facility will manage all other aspects of its own TA activities, for which the facility providers are responsible.

Outreach to new users under AQUACOSM-plus: TA opportunities will be offered to a wider community by broadening the outreach (WP5) to attract a wide range of users, in particular three distinct, but not mutually exclusive groups of users:

  • Researchers or developers from SMEs and other industries keen on developing or testing instruments or interested in other applications
  • Researchers from countries that lack state-of-the-art freshwater, brackish or marine mesocosm facilities
  • Researchers not previously involved in experimental investigations using aquatic mesocosm facilities

In addition to the global mesocosm.eu network, the project aims to reach new users and stakeholders through open access to the “Project Tracker” in WP5.2. The project tracker, will be supported by WP6’s expert summits to tackle Grant Challenges and develop attractive experimental (co-)designs to be simultaneously applied in several facilities. Outreach to new users outside the scientific community, i.e. developers from SMEs and other industries will be improved via the AQUACOSM-plus’ industry-targeted Innovation Forum (ACIF, WP1 and 2). Generally, information about opportunities for TA will be widely disseminated via diverse channels and outlets in WP5, including various social media, scientific and industrial networks, and professional meetings. The AQUACOSM-plus website will serve as a central hub to announce, disseminate and run TA calls for designated experiments and open projects and will host the TA applications by an effective online form. To mitigate potential unbalanced TA-demand among partner facilities, the yearly main call for TA opportunities will be complemented by a second more flexible call launched after the main call, dedicated to providing access to students and early career scientists to planned experiments at partner facilities with TA availability.

Review procedure under AQUACOSM-plus: TA proposals must be electronically submitted using the online portal (WP5.2) and undergo a standardised review-process compliant with EU- regulations. Users will be selected based on the principles of transparency, fairness and impartiality:

  • Incoming TA applications are collected and registered by the AQUACOSM-plus Project Office (WP1) and checked for formal compliance according to the present European Commission Requirements.
  • The Project Office then forwards all formally correct applications to the independent User Selection Panel (USP), which is composed of seven distinguished aquatic scientists with international expertise on all aquatic systems and eco-regions addressed in WP9 (see 3.2.4).
  • The USP evaluates, prioritises and ranks applications for TA according to a set of transparent criteria (see Application Assessment). Most important are scientific merit and attributes of prospective users as defined above. The evaluation process will be accessible online through the TA portal and results will be available to dedicated persons. The USP will convene in person once a year (more often if necessary) to finalise open applications and attend to USP connected business.
  • The WP9 task leaders (WP9.1-9.28), i.e. facility providers will then comment on the feasibility of the TA applications and proposed activities at the specific sites based on the available expertise, collaboration potential and schedules at the respective facility and report back to the TA Project Office.
  • After consensus between facility providers and TA Office, the facility providers will inform the TA applicants, provide grant letters (CC to TA office) and start organising the planned activity.
  • In case of difficulties, final decisions are taken by the USP after consultation with the Steering Committee (SC) and respective WP9 task leaders.

Overall results of approval (or rejection) of TA application will be archived by the Project Office and publicly communicated via the outreach pathways of WP5 (TA portal).

Modality of access under AQUACOSM-plus: Individual users or user groups (henceforth ‘users’) will be given access to the AQUACOSM-plus partner infrastructures, equipment and services according to a standardised protocol (see below). The unit of access offered by all facilities is person-days, although details of access vary among infrastructures, depending on location, typical duration of experiments, required number of person-days, capacities of local staff, integration of AQUACOSM-plus activities into established schedules, degree of user independence and other factors. Unless noted otherwise in the description of Tasks 9.1-9.28, costs are calculated as unit costs in € per user-day according to the methodology laid out by the Commission. Costs incurred during experiments are included, which comprises costs for preparatory work needed before and after the arrival of users at the site, and specific training on-site required to complete a project. An overview of all partner facilities access costs and the total of access provided is summarised in Table 3.2c, whereas travel and subsistence costs are listed in Table 3.4.b.

Support and Services offered under AQUACOSM-plus: The logistic support and scientific services offered to users supported by the Transnational Access programme are described individually for each of the mesocosm facilities (Task 9.1-9.28). Generally, logistic support includes travel costs (roundtrip to facility), accommodation at the site, per-diem (or provision of all meals) as well as technical and administrative support. The scientific services and environment in which users will be embedded varies among locations, but scientifically strong, active and open-minded research groups associated with AQUACOSM-plus facilities typically ensure a stimulating and rewarding research experience during TA activities.

Detailed descriptions and specificities applicable to the individual partner infrastructures are described in Tasks 9.1 to 9.28, below.


D9.1 Delivery of report on quantity (person-days) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of Transnational

Access delivered at all partner facilities (Tasks 9.1-9.28) for M10-21 (M23)

D9.2 Delivery of report on quantity (person-days) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of Transnational Access delivered at all partner facilities (Tasks 9.1-9.28) for M22-45 (Month 47).

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