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TOPIC : Copernicus evolution - Preparing for the next generation of Copernicus Marine Service ocean models

Topic identifier: LC-SPACE-03-EO-2018
Publication date: 27 October 2017
Focus area: Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future (LC)

Types of action: RIA Research and Innovation action
Opening date:
31 October 2017
Deadline: 06 March 2018 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Industrial Leadership
Work Programme Year: H2020-2018-2020
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

The overarching challenge is to prepare the next generation of the Copernicus Marine Service in line with the evolution of requirements, policies and national expectations and also benefiting from advances in space, IT technologies and modelling and in accordance with the Copernicus institutional context.

The Copernicus Marine Service has now entered in full-scale operations. It delivers in support to European policies, International conventions (i.e. on climate) and also in support to Member States, observations, forecasts and reanalysis of the past of the ocean, at global scale but also on all European regional seas. It delivers a unique, consistent and integrated overview from the open ocean up to the coasts both in terms of physics and biogeochemistry.

At policy level, many directives related to the marine environment call for integrating in a coherent way all EU policies (the Water Framework Directive, Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the Habitats Directive, Maritime spatial Planning, etc...). EU Ministers have welcomed the Communication on International Ocean Governance, adopted by the Commission and the High Representative in November 2016, calling it a "timely and relevant contribution to achieving […] better coordination and cooperation to ensure that oceans are safe, secure, conserved and sustainably used and managed." Ministers stressed the urgent need for the EU and its Member States to step up efforts to protect the oceans and seas.

Hence, requirements from the coastal sector interested in integrated coastal zone management, spatial planning, natural risk mitigation, climate change impact mitigation or habitats and living resources monitoring were addressed. From the several improvement paths identified, a high priority is the evolution of Copernicus Marine Service global and regional systems to better describe ocean phenomenon with high dynamics at fine spatial scales to provide enhanced boundary conditions to coastal models (both physics, biogeochemistry or marine ecosystems) thus strengthening the links with downstream coastal monitoring activities from the public or private sectors.

Mesoscale to sub-mesoscale features such as fronts, meanders, internal waves eddies and filaments, as well as turbulent mixing are of fundamental importance for the exchanges of heat, fresh water, CO2, dissolved oxygen and nutrients between the surface and ocean interior, and in transition areas connecting the open ocean to coastal seas. The representation of tidal physics and wave-current interaction is also needed for a more complete representation of dynamical processes.

Small-scale dynamics is essential to better understand and represent ocean and climate interactions both for physics and biogeochemistry. Development of high-resolution global ocean models would also ultimately benefit to the development of higher resolution climate models needed for more skilful climate predictions.

The need for high-resolution global ocean models is also driven by the need for numerical models to develop a resolution capacity compliant with the spatial (and time) scales from present (Sentinels) and future EO satellites (e.g. wide-swath altimetry, geostationary sensors, surface currents).


Numerical codes shall be prepared to achieve smallest target effective resolution in the kilometric range constrained by high-resolution EO datasets. The following activities are required:

  • Deliver global ocean analyses and forecasts at a kilometric scale with additional process complexity;
  • Production of ocean forecasts and analyses that exploit upcoming HR satellite datasets;
  • Develop advanced numerical schemes with improved accuracy and stability;
  • Exploit the opportunities of new high performance computing (HPC) technology;
  • Allow easy interfacing of the Copernicus service with local coastal models, allowing for two-way data exchange between coastal systems and the Copernicus Marine System;
  • Assess the impact of solving the ocean dynamics at kilometric scales on the role of ocean on climate (e.g. vertical exchange of heat, representation of over flows);
  • Assess the impact of solving the ocean dynamics at kilometric scales on the coupling with biogeochemistry and on the carbon, oxygen and nutrient cycles.
  • Assess the adequacy and quality of satellite-derived ocean data into the coastal models, thus providing an opportunity for validation and integration with local ocean conditions.

A guidance document explaining the ongoing process to gather new user requirements is published together with this work programme[1].

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

This topic contributes to the Horizon 2020 focus area "Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future".

Expected Impact:

Expected outcomes should be to:

  • Provide a significant contribution from the Science community to address the precedent list of unsolved issues related to a higher resolution of the ocean description;
  • Deliver developments based on the NEMO ocean model to easily transition to the Copernicus operational environment as this world-class ocean model already forms the basis of the majority of analysis and forecast products;
  • Prepare the necessary steps for further validation and integration into Copernicus and transition to operations;
  • Identify priorities for next developments both in EO processing, in-situ contribution (additional data sources), assimilation and modelling capacities;
  • Identify required coordination with other Copernicus services related to land, atmosphere or climate if so required;
Cross-cutting Priorities:

Blue Growth


Topic conditions and documents

1. Eligible countries: described in Annex A of the Work Programme.
A number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects. See the information in the Online Manual.


2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in Annex B and Annex C of the Work Programme.


Proposal page limits and layout: please refer to Part B of the proposal template in the submission system below.


3. Evaluation:

  • Evaluation criteria, scoring and thresholds are described in Annex H of the Work Programme.  
  • Submission and evaluation processes are described in the Online Manual.

4. Indicative time for evaluation and grant agreements:

Information on the outcome of evaluation (single-stage call): maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

5. Proposal templates, evaluation forms and model grant agreements (MGA):

Research and Innovation Action:

Specific provisions and funding rates
Standard proposal template
Standard evaluation form
General MGA - Multi-Beneficiary
Annotated Grant Agreement

6. Additional provisions:

Horizon 2020 budget flexibility
Classified information
Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply

Members of consortium are required to conclude a consortium agreement, in principle prior to the signature of the grant agreement.

8. Additional documents:

Copernicus evolution: guidance document for Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018

1. Introduction WP 2018-20
5. Introduction to Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies (LEITs) WP 2018-20
5iii. Space WP 2018-20

General annexes to the Work Programme 2018-2020

Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Regulation of Establishment
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Specific Programme

7. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions.

Where relevant, proposals should also provide information on how the participants will manage the research data generated and/or collected during the project, such as details on what types of data the project will generate, whether and how this data will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved.

Open access to research data
The Open Research Data Pilot has been extended to cover all Horizon 2020 topics for which the submission is opened on 26 July 2016 or later. Projects funded under this topic will therefore by default provide open access to the research data they generate, except if they decide to opt-out under the conditions described in Annex L of the Work Programme. Projects can opt-out at any stage, that is both before and after the grant signature.

Note that the evaluation phase proposals will not be evaluated more favourably because they plan to open or share their data, and will not be penalised for opting out.

Open research data sharing applies to the data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications. Additionally, projects can choose to make other data available open access and need to describe their approach in a Data Management Plan.

Projects need to create a Data Management Plan (DMP), except if they opt-out of making their research data open access. A first version of the DMP must be provided as an early deliverable within six months of the project and should be updated during the project as appropriate. The Commission already provides guidance documents, including a template for DMPs. See the Online Manual.

Eligibility of costs: costs related to data management and data sharing are eligible for reimbursement during the project duration.

The legal requirements for projects participating in this pilot are in the article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement.


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