In response to the joint European Commission and European Space Agency initiative to establish by 2008 a system for Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES), the Marine Environment and Security for the European Area (MERSEA) Strand-1 Project was executed to assess and demonstrate the capacity of present monitoring and forecasting systems. The study area covered the North Atlantic, with its northwest European shelf seas, and the Mediterranean. By integrating of existing satellite observations with data from in situ measurement networks and ocean models, daily mean products and forecasts from four core data assimilation systems (~1 0 km resolution) were compared and distributed through an Open-source Project for a Network Data Access Protoco (OPeNDAP) server from1 June 2003 to 31 May 2004.Moreover, downscaling to high-resolution (1–5 km) models was used for specific applications to harmful algal bloom, eutrophication, and oil spill monitoring in the Baltic, North Sea, Irish Sea, Iberian coastal shelf seas, and the Aegean Sea. The lessons learned from this project are reported here.

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Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, and Geophysical Institute, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway

Institute Francais de Recherche pour I'Exploitation de la Mer, Brest, France

Southampton Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom

Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Athens, Greece

Met Office, Exeter, United Kingdom

Instituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Bologne, Italy

MERCATOR OCEAN, Toulouse, France