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The Project Support Team of the University of Malta has been set up in order to facilitate the process of participating in externally funded projects. It has been appointed to assist members of staff in the project proposal stage and during the project implementation, in particular to provide assistance relating to administrative and financial procedures. The team mainly provides assistance on the technical, legal, financial and HR aspects of a project. More information can be obtained from here.

Ongoing Projects 


 SDC – SeaDataCloud: Further Developing the Pan-European Infrastructure for Marine and Ocean Data Management

Start/End Date: 1st November 2016 - 31st October 2020

Coordinator: Prof. Aldo Drago

SeaDataCloud aims to build on the achievements of its predecessor, SeaDataNet II, which saw the development of a pan-European infrastructure for managing, indexing and providing access to marine-related data products from various observational activities in the European coastal marine waters, regional seas and global oceans.

One of the main objectives of SeaDataCloud is to make the existing data infrastructure more robust by using current technologies, such as cloud computing and high performance computing technology. Furthermore, standardisation of data will be implemented by enforcing data management standards, such as ISO and W3C, on the data included in the services offered. This will ensure improved services to users, as well as interoperability with other data sources.

The Physical Oceanography Research Group is involved in three work packages of this project. This endeavour will further enhance the experience of the Group in oceanographic data management, and will further support the national role for sourcing, archiving and providing wider access to local quality-controlled marine data sets. The project will serve to enhance the base of local metadata and data by seeking out data providers and facilitating their inclusion under the Sea Data Cloud framework.


JERICO-NEXT – Towards a Joint European Research Infrastructure Network for Coastal Observation

Start/End Date: 1st January 2015 – 31st August 2019

Coordinator: Prof. Aldo Drago


JERICO-NEXT is a Horizon 2020 project. The overall aim of this project is to improve the cooperation between coastal observatories in Europe, thereby providing better information services to the research community and society in general. 

The Physical Oceanography Research Group is leading two project activities. The major task concerns the coordination of a high profile User Panel intended to create a 2-way channel of communication with groups of operational oceanography data users. These user groups include public, policy, research, education and operational communities, including industry. This channel will serve to understand the requirements of each group and, hence, to devise better communication strategies. 

The other task is aimed at enhancing European human capacity building in operational marine sciences. To this end, two summer schools are planned, one about “Operational tools for biogeochemical and ecological measurements” and one about “Virtual environmental coastal observatory: from virtual access to knowledge creation”. Furthermore, a tertiary level online course on operational oceanography will be developed to aid the further introduction of the subject in undergraduate programmes of universities worldwide.


AMAre – Actions for Marine Protected Areas

Start/End Date: 1st November 2016 – 31st October 2019

Coordinator: Prof. Aldo Drago

AMAREMalta is taking hold of the presidency of the Council of the European Union at a time when environmental, economic and societal issues concerning the oceans are reaching a mature stage on the policy agenda in Europe.  This process was triggered in 2007 by the “Blue Book” for an Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) advocating a holistic approach to maritime issues across different policy areas. Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) comprising the harmonization of human activities in marine areas subsequently came into action as a powerful means to manage the intensive use of maritime space with minimal cumulative impacts and user conflicts. The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) set the tangible goals to achieve Good Environmental Status for all EU marine waters by 2020. This has culminated to the active current engagement of the European Commission to improve international governance of the oceans and seas, and to promote sustainable Blue Growth. 

This is the setting within which the MED Programme 2015 project AMAre (Actions for Marine Protected Areas) has been conceived to aid Mediterranean countries in this process by specifically developing shared methodologies and geospatial tools for multiple stressors assessment, coordinated environmental monitoring, multi criteria analyses and stakeholders' engagements in the management of marine protected areas. Concrete pilot actions and coordinated strategies in selected Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), including the North East MPA in Malta, are placed to solve hot spots of conflicts affecting marine biodiversity and the services it provides. Transnational cooperation and regulations, development of coordinated best practices to deal with present and future drivers of changes in biodiversity and ecosystem services, coordinated monitoring, data access to share information and concrete stakeholder and users’ involvement are the expected results.

The approach goes beyond existing practice across the basin, where, despite the presence of excellent examples of effective MPAs, the transition from single isolated MPAs to networks sharing a holistic vision of managing human uses is still far to be achieved. MPA managers, public institutions, and key stakeholders working within the MPAs will benefit from the results of the project. The ultimate aim is to share strategies and recommendations at transnational level across the whole Mediterranean.

The first major outcome of this 3-year project is the setting up of a web GIS geodatabase shared at a transnational level and providing an exhaustive and integrated data platform in four key MPAs. This MPA geodata portal will store and manage data for monitoring, biodiversity, environmental data, data related to human activities, regulations and uses that potentially impact the environmental components. The spatial database will provide a tool for managing and networking the protected areas, homogenizing and standardizing the data relevant to the monitoring of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

AMAre includes twelve high profile partners from five Mediterranean countries – Italy, France, Greece, Malta and Spain and is led by the National Inter-University Consortium for Marine Sciences (CoNISMa, Italy). Besides the participation in all the other project activities, the Physical Oceanography Research Group is responsible for coordinating Work Package 4. The objective of this work package is to use guidelines, methodologies and indicators for the assessment and management of present and future multiple stressors (e.g. marine litter). It also aims to launch pilot activities in selected MPAs included in the project. Malta will host a Technical Committee meeting in October 2017.




Start/End Date: 21st March 2018 – 31st August 2020

Coordinator: Prof. Aldo Drago


CALYPSO SOUTH, an INTERREG Italia-Malta project, follows the trail of the previous CALYPSO and CALYPSO FOLLOW ON initiatives, by proposing an extended HF radar system covering the stretch of sea south west to the Maltese Islands, and with companion installations on the side of Linosa and Lampedusa islands. The main effort will be dedicated to support search and rescue operations by the Armed Forces of Malta and the Italian Coastguard in an area that has been in recent years a hot spot for the massive exodus of migrants and refugees attempting to make their way into European waters, often with tragic consequences.

The project is also expected to aid port operations through the installation of automated wind monitoring stations and higher resolution HF radar data acquisition in the proximity of key harbours.  

In essence the project is dedicated to making marine transportation safer and to protect human lives at sea. It is a commitment to put technological advancement and scientific endeavour at the service of humanitarian responses and reducing risks in sea faring.



EMODNet Data Ingestion – European Marine Observation and Data Network

Start/End Date: 19th May 2016 – 18th May 2019

Coordinator: Prof. Aldo Drago


EMODnet Data Ingestion is a Horizon 2020 project, which aims to develop a central ingestion portal, into which various external data providers can submit their marine-related data packages. The data is submitted through an ISO19115 based submission form, thereby ensuring that the data provided by different entities is harmonised. This is then allocated to the appropriate data centre depending on the nature and nationality of the data. The data centre evaluates the contents and determines whether the data can be used to populate the databases which feed the EMODnet thematic portals.
The Physical Oceanography Research Group is acting as the national data cerntre for Malta, and its role is mainly to facilitate machine-to-machine transfers of marine data from Malta to the relevant repositories. Hence the Group provides the link between local data providers and the EMODnet platform. Furthermore, the PO-Res. Grp is itself a data provider since it is directly engaged in routine data observations through its various operational and delayed mode monitoring activities.



Start/End Date: April – June 2017

Coordinator: Prof. Aldo Drago


The prolific engagements of the Physical Oceanography Research Group in marine observations is further maturing with deployment of dedicated equipment to measure and deliver data in real time. This is the essence of operational oceanography whereby data is streamed directly to users for direct applications and support to their everyday activities. 

GLIDER South is lucrative initiative that the Group is undertaking this year in collaboration with CNRS-INSU (the National Institute for Earth Sciences and Astronomy within the French National Center for Scientific Research). This a project proposed and led by Prof. Aldo Drago within the H2020 JERICO NEXT Trans National Access activities. Underwater remotely manned gliders will be deployed close to Malta and along transects to the south, providing very pristine datasets. Gliders are torpedo-like autonomous vehicles which dive into the sea making adaptive measurements of the water column with a payload of interdisciplinary sensors and communicating data in real time via satellite as they surface intermittently during their data acquisition expeditions. 

This will further put the University of Malta on the map as a key contributor in operational oceanography and physical oceanographic research in the Central Mediterranean area. 


 Past Projects

CALYPSO-FO – CALYPSO HF Radar Monitoring System and Response against Marine Spills in the Malta Channel Follow On

Start/End Date: 14th May 2015 – 31st December 2015

Coordinator: Prof. Aldo Drago 

CALYPSO-FOCALYPSO Follow On built on the success of CALYPSO, which led to the installation of a network of three HF radars to monitor the sea surface currents in the Malta Channel. The main aims of CALYPSO Follow On were to install a fourth HF radar in Ragusa, and to make meteo-marine data accessible to the public. 

The Physical Oceanography Research Group was responsible for the development of a smartphone app, KAPTAN, which allows users to view the sea surface currents mapped by the radars. Users can also view other parameters, such as sea surface temperature (observed and forecast), wave parameters (forecast) and atmospheric conditions (forecast), providing an aid to mariners for safer navigation in the stretch of sea between Malta and Sicily.

SeaDataNet II - a Pan-European Infrastructure for Ocean and Marine Data Management

Start/End Date: 1st October 2011 – 30th September 2015

Coordinator: Prof. Aldo Drago 


The objective of this project was to upgrade the SeaDataNet infrastructure into an operationally robust and state-of-the-art, Pan-European infrastructure for providing up-to-date and high-quality access to ocean and marine metadata, data and data products originating from data acquisition activities by various coastal states. This was achieved by setting, adopting and promoting common data management standards, and by realising technical and semantic interoperability with other relevant data management systems and initiatives on behalf of science, environmental management, policy making and economy.

The PO-Res.Grp was responsible for the archival and management of oceanographic data relating to the Maltese Islands. In this project, the Research Group formed part of this European virtual ocean data system, and will continue to maintain the local oceanographic databases, and update their structure to make them compatible with the central databases. These local databases can be currently accessed online through the Malta Blue Pages.


BIODIVALUE - Bio diversity and sustainable development in the strait of Sicily

Start/End Date: 24th July 2012 – 24th April 2015 

Coordinator: Prof. Alan Deidun & Prof. Martin Muscat

BIodivalueThe aim of this project was to create operational tools to support local and European administrators and operators of maritime traffic whose mission is to limit the harmful effects of pollution generated by shipping and fishing in the Strait of Sicily. These tools include a system for measuring biophysical risk of loss of biodiversity in the Strait of Sicily. The outputs of these tools can be used to measure the economic impact of the harmful effects of pollution on coastal communities, thereby helping port authorities and other competent bodies to take measures to offset the effect of pollution coming from shipping. 


Mediterranean Decision Support System for Marine Safety (MEDESS-4MS)

Start/End Date:  31st January 2012 - 31st January 2015

Coordinator: Prof. Aldo Drago 


Mediterranean Decision Support System for Marine Safety (MEDESS-4MS) isdedicated to the strengthening of maritime safety by mitigating the risks and impacts associated to oil spills. MEDESS-4MS capitalizes on existing pan-European frameworks and embraces recent advances and important developments  in oceanography in the Mediterranean area. MEDESS-4MS aims to deliver an integrated operational multi model oil spill system in the Mediterranean by gathering and analyzing met-ocean data as well as data related to ship traffic, ship operations and sensitivity mapping. This data will be provided to well established oil spill monitoring and forecasting systems, thus, providing an invaluable tool regarding the early detection and efficient control of the oil spill at early stages.

Therefore, MEDESS-4MS aims to offer a comprehensive and integrated multi-model approach regarding our response to oil spills at sea; an approach that takes into account all three important aspects related to marine pollution, that is, Prevention, Detection and Control. The beneficiary countries of MEDESS-4MS are Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Montenegro and Spain.

Project website can be found here.


MED-JELLYRISK - Integrated monitoring of jellyfish outbreaks under anthropogenic and climatic impacts in the Mediterranean Sea (coastal zones): trophic and socio-economic risks

Start/End Date: 1st January 2013 – 31st December 2015 

Coordinator: Prof. Alan Deidun & Dr. Adriana Vella

MedJellyRiskMED-JELLYRISK was the first Cross-Border Cooperation project assessing the socio-economic impacts of jellyfish blooms and the implementation of mitigation countermeasures. MED-JELLYRISK addressed an integrated coastal management approach into 10 Marine Coastal Zones in the western and central Mediterranean Sea basins faced with increased jellyfish proliferations. 

The University of Malta led the implementation of monitoring and mitigation activities in Malta. The Physical Oceanography Research Group focussed on local oceanographic research and citizen science surveys, while the Department of Biology focussed on the local biological field research and local documentary production.

The University of Malta also participated in the Project management and in all the WPs with contributions on scientific, educational and dissemination activities. It also assisted the project coordinator and other partners in the development of the WPs.


MYOCEAN-FO – Pre-Operational Marine Service Continuity in Transition towards Copernicus

Start/End Date: 1st October 2014 – 31st May 2015

Coordinator: Prof. Aldo Drago

MyOceanMyOcean was a European Network to monitor, analyse and forecast the Oceans. Its main objective was the implementation of the GMES (Global Monitoring for the Environment & Security) Marine Core Service, which resulted in the deployment of the first concerted and integrated pan-European capacity for Ocean Monitoring and Forecasting.

By virtue of its track record in operational oceanography, and its involvement in European research networks, the Physical Oceanography Research Group was engaged as the Maltese partner in MyOcean.  Its main role in the project was to act as a local broker to promote the application of the MyOcean Marine Core Service (MCS) to the benefit of Maltese users, as well as to make use and transform marine regional scale data into added value products and services at the local scale.

The PO-Res.Grp was directly involved in the project implementation in relation to Calibration/Validation and Quality evaluation of Mediterranean Monitoring and Forecasting Systems, as well as in the assessment of MyOcean products and services to provide/update requirements for Maltese local users in the main areas of benefit identified by the MCS.

More information about the MyOcean project can be found here.


PANACEA – Promozione delle Aree Naturali Attraverso i Centri di Educazione Ambientale

Start/End Date: 26th April 2011 - 14th October 2013 

Coordinator: Prof. Alan Deidun

panaceaThe main objective of the PANACEA project was to promote the sound scientific management of biodiversity assets within Sicilian and Maltese MPAs by drawing on codes of best practice developed within selected MPAs and through the institution of environmental educational centres.

These centres can be considered as portals of edutainment, in which visitors (students, divers, tourists, locals) are regaled with a didactic experience through a kaleidoscopic overview of the MPA’s living resources through a number of ad hoc tools, including documentaries, interactive tools, permanent exhibitions and models, ecological laboratories, etc. More details are available here


PERSEUS – Policy Oriented Marine Environmental Research in the Southern European Seas

Start/End Date: 1st January 2012 – 31st December 2015 

Coordinator: Prof. Aldo Drago

PerseusThis project assessed the dual impact of human activity and natural pressures on the Mediterranean and Black Seas. PERSEUS merged natural and socio-economic sciences to predict the long-term effects of these pressures on marine ecosystems. Within its research framework, the project developed tools to evaluate environmental status based on existing and upgraded monitoring and modelling capabilities. These incorporated integrated methods to make a better use of indicators (satellite, model, observations and trophic state). 

PERSEUS contributed towards providing scientific rationale for a basin-wide promotion of the principles and objectives put forward in the MSFD. It also fostered international scientific cooperation by in situ experiments, capacity building and formation of networks. In an attempt to reach the GES for 2020, development of scenarios for environmental status in the decadal scale took place. These included design scenarios, projection of anthropogenic and natural pressures, modelling ecosystem response and extracting indicators and assess the effectiveness of scenarios contributing to the GES. 

An important aim of this project was the development of a framework which incorporates future implementation of adaptive policies and management schemes that analyse the vulnerable sectors and regions, identify hard and soft adaptation options and assessment of criteria and cost effectiveness. More details are available here.


Spot the Jellyfish 

Coordinator: Prof. Aldo Drago and Prof. Alan Deidun

The IOIKIDS Spot the Jellyfish initiative aims to increase awareness, especially amongst the younger generations, about the local diversity of jellyfish species, through a hands-on exercise involving the reporting of sightings of jellyfish that often swarm close to our shores and beaches. This initiative enjoys the support of Maltese tourism authorities (MTA) and a number of local and regional ENGO's. A user-friendly interface ( is available to enable the submission of jellyfish reports by members of the public and the visualisation, in real-time, of the geo-referenced jellyfish sighting reports. Two jellyfish species (Porpita porpita and Aequorea sp.) were recorded for the first time in Maltese waters as part of the initiative.


This activity forms part of the IOI-KIDS project which originates from an initiative of Prof. Aldo Drago to help children, youth, community groups, and teachers across the world share ideas, projects, and experiences about the sea. IOI-KIDS was developed with the support of the International Ocean Institute (IOI) through its Women and Youth Programme. The website features appealing visual content on the marine environment through interactive educational games and resources, informative articles, quizzes, and video features, including contributions from young authors, teachers, and individuals. 

Last Updated: 23 April 2018

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