The Way Forward in Developing and Integrating Ferrybox Technologies


Co-operation between scientists and the shipping industry offers great potential over the next decade for the expansion of marine observations. Work with so called "Ferry-boxes" has made large advances in the last ten years focusing on shelf seas. We expect this work to expand globally and link into other operations more focused on the open sea and sub surface measurements. This may be through the more organised alliances currently being considered by SCOR-OceanScope (Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research-Working Group) ( It would be timely to consider bringing a global pilot project into being as part of Coastal GOOS (Global Ocean Observing System). The term "Ferry-box" signifies (1) the use of a ferry (or other commercial ships) for data collection, (2) boxes of autonomous sensing equipment installed on the ship, and (3) the ability of the data to provide boundary conditions for numerical models in a delimited or boxed region. The EU (European) project FerryBox (2002-2005) demonstrated that it is possible to provide surface ocean data from commercial ships in a highly cost effective manner over a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. The concept is now in use globally, particularly in Europe, Australia, Japan, Korea and the USA. The focus of Ferry-box activity has been on improving the understanding of biogeochemical and biological processes in shelf seas. The Ferry-box concept has considerable potential for expansion to include the study of inputs from the world's major riverine discharges and more generally to provide operational observations over coastal zones, shelf seas and the open ocean. This potential for expansion should be strongly encouraged. Immediate requirements are for improvements in the reliability and robustness of existing systems, particularly for measuring nutrients, pCO2 and pH as well as extension to already trialled equipment such as Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCP) and flow cytometers. In Europe, the output from Ferry-box systems is now seen as an important part of a pan European observational system for integration into data networks (e.g. EMODNET - European Marine Observation and Data Network) for use in marine management. Practically, this integration is beginning to evolve through initiatives such as the EU Framework 7 projects MyOcean (2009-2012) and EMECO (European Marine Ecosystem Observatory), which will link to national systems such as COSYNA (Coastal Observation System for Northern and Arctic Seas). The use of Ferry-boxes within these observational systems and networks will enhance the provision of much needed data to enable for example more reliable assessments of the ocean's ability to sequester CO2, and the OSPAR (Oslo/Paris convention (for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic) Common Procedure looking at eutrophication.
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