EU funds AQUACOSM in €9.9 million project; Using research infrastructures to strengthen the network on pelagic marine systems and in mesocosm based science

January 1st, 2017

A Network of Leading European AQUAtic MesoCOSM Facilities Connecting Mountains to Oceans from the Arctic to the Mediterranean (AQUACOSM)

The European Commission funds AQUACOSM in a €9.9 million project under the Integrating and opening research infrastructures of European interest (H2020-INFRAIA-2016-2017) call.

The project will be coordinated by FORSCHUNGSVERBUND (FVB-IGB) and hosts a consortium of 21 participants, representing 12 European and non-European countries.

AQUACOSM will build on an established European Network of Mesocosm Research Infrastructures (MESOAQUA), and will greatly enhance the network on pelagic marine systems. It will unite European and Global mesocosm science in an open network.

Blue Lobster has a significant role in the project and will be responsible for the design and development of both the AQUACOSM and websites. The AQUACOSM website will serve as the central source of information for the project and will form an open virtual network for aquatic mesocosm facilities worldwide. In addition, a suite of web-based GIS and data products and tools will be developed and integrated into the websites. The tools will enable rapid and interactive results for online visualisation of data from the AQUACOSM mesocosm facilities and experiments.

The Blue Lobster team will lead the design and development of two Bespoke Software Solutions:

An Integrated Online Web Application to manage all Transnational Access (TA) information and application activities within the project. The TA portal will serve as a central hub for all TA related information, whilst the online application will handle TA calls, application forms, and the expert review processes.

A Mesocosm Metadata Catalogue using GeoNetwork: an open source application to manage spatially referenced resources. The catalogue will be available through the project website and facilitate standardised and centralised data discovery and sharing.


Experimentation in mesocosms is arguably the single most powerful approach to obtain a mechanistic quantitative understanding of ecosystem-level impacts of stressors in complex systems, especially when embedded in long-term observations, theoretical models, and experiments conducted at other scales. AQUACOSM builds on an established European network of mesocosm research infrastructures (RIs), the FP7 Infra project MESOAQUA (2009-2012), where 167 users successfully conducted 74 projects.

AQUACOSM greatly enhances that network on pelagic marine systems in at least 3 ways:

  1. Expanding the network: to include 10 freshwater (rivers and lakes), 2 brackish and 2 benthic marine facilities, and by involving 2 SMEs and reaching out to more, therefore granting effective transnational access to world-leading mesocosm facilities (>340 users on >11500 days)

  2. Integrating dispersed expertise between freshwater and marine RIs

  3. Uniting aquatic mesocosm science into an open network beyond the core consortium, with industry involved in an ambitious innovation process, to promote ground-breaking developments in mesocosm technology, instrumentation, and data processing.

A new dimension of experimental ecosystem science will be reached by coordinated mesocosm experiments along transects from the Mediterranean to the Arctic and beyond salinity boundaries. These efforts will culminate in a joint research activity (JRA) to assess aquatic ecosystem responses across multiple environmental gradients to a selected climate-related crucial stressor with repercussions for ecosystem services.

Overall, AQUACOSM will fill a global void by forging an integrated freshwater and marine research infrastructure network. Long-term sustainability is sought through assessing governance models based on science priorities and economic innovation opportunities. Linkages to, and synergies with ESFRI RI and other large initiatives are ensured by AQUACOSM partners and advisory board members in those programs.

AQUACOSM (project No 731065) is funded by the European Commission EU H2020-INFRAIA. The information and views of this website lie entirely with the authors. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.