Petroleum companies have complete information on their own offshore installations and authorities responsible for licensing them know what is in their own waters. But until recently, there has been no complete inventory of installations for any of Europe’s sea basins.
The development of EMODnet standard classifications for the various categories of seabed substrate allowed a digital map layer covering Russian, Finnish and Estonian waters to contribute towards the Gulf of Finland assessment published in 2016. This was one of the most important outcomes of the Gulf of Finland Year arranged by the three countries in 2014.
The digital topographic map layers produced by EMODnet do not only show the depth of water, they also indicate where surveys are sparse and confidence in data is low. Extending this analysis for more distant waters requires collaboration with countries outside the EU who have similar programmes.
Changes in coastal sea level caused by the combined effect of surface winds and air pressure have the potential to cause widespread coastal flooding, damage to infrastructure and loss of life.
The low-lying lands bordering the North Sea are particularly vulnerable as was seen most notably in the catastrophic events of 1953. It is expected that climate change will increase the frequency and severity of such events.