Within the framework of the EU-funded “Copernicus Assisted Environmental Monitoring Across the Black Sea Basin – PONTOS” project, the Joint Open Workshop “Satellite Applications: From the Black Sea to the North Aegean Sea” was held on March 11, 2022 in Thessaloniki, Greece. The event was organized by the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH) with the overall aim to inform the Public and the Authorities of Central Macedonia about PONTOS contribution in Environmental Remote Monitoring and the benefits from the data provided.
The Workshop brought together a total of 47 participants who represented regional and local public authorities, sectorial agencies, civil society, universities, students, enterprises, press, and Project partners. The event was focused on topics related to PONTOS Objectives, to Satellite Earth Observation and Environmental Monitoring, to PONTOS activities in Greece, to Environmental Projects implemented in Thessaloniki and to PONTOS Platform.
The Joint Open Workshop “Satellite Applications: From the Black Sea to the North Aegean Sea” started with welcoming remarks by Dr Ioannis Manakos, Principal Researcher of the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH). Dr Manakos welcomed the participants as the organizer of the event, and presented the Agenda of the day.
The participants of the Workshop’s Greetings Session were representing the Regional Public Authorities and Local Public Authorities of Central Macedonia. The Deputy Mayor for the Environment from the Municipality of Thessaloniki, Mr Erotokritos Theotokatos, the Head of the GIS Departments of the Municipality of Thessaloniki, Mr Simos Misirloglou and Mr Ioannis Tsolakidis, Rural and Surveying Engineer from the Natural Environment and Climate Change Agency- Kerkini Branch Office, welcomed the audience and underlined the significance of PONTOS services in the area. Moreover, the Vice Governor of Development and Environment at the Region of Central Macedonia, Ms Kostas Gioutikas, sent an Open Message by highlighting that “the contribution of the project is considered as extremely essential for solutions that can be offered in order to achieve the goal for a green and sustainable region”. The session continued with the virtual participation of Ms Ana Leganel, Project Officer from the Joint Technical Secretariat of the Black Sea Basin Joint Operational Programme 2014-2022, who presented the main objectives and the future funding opportunities in the framework of the Black Sea Programme.
Overview of PONTOS Project
A comprehensive overview of the project was presented by Ms. Aghavni Harutyunyan, Project Manager from the American University of Armenia (AUA). Ms. Harutyunyan highlighted that “the overall objective of the project is to make information and knowledge available to scientists, policy makers, citizens and other relevant stakeholders and to provide a full picture of the state and temporal evolution of Black Sea region environment”. She then underlined that PONTOS aims to transfer technology among the Black Sea nations, to develop the knowledge infrastructure of online services, to encourage the use of the Copernicus program for environmental monitoring and to engage local and regional actors at multiple levels.
PONTOS activities in Greece
PONTOS activities in the pilot area of Greece, which expands from Nestos River, its Delta and the coastal zone close to the Delta, were presented by the Professor of Democritus University of Thrace (DUTH), Georgios Sylaios. Prof. Sylaios started by clarifying that coastal erosion has been greatly affected, especially after 1996, when the river dam was constructed. He mentioned that the main problems of Nestos Agro-ecosystem are the degradation of coastal wetlands and lagoons, the massive fish deaths, and the declining fishery production. He also underlined that, “PONTOS mission is to address these challenges through the continuous and systematic monitoring of the area with the use of satellite images and Copernicus programme, to encourage satellite monitoring of the coastal erosion and of eutrophication episodes, and to inform and/ or train stakeholders.”
The Press Conference
A Press Conference was held during the Joint Open Workshop in Thessaloniki aiming to communicate PONTOS message with the local Media. Journalist from the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA) interviewed Aghavni Harutyunyan from the American University of Armenia (AUA) Acopian Center for the Environment, Ioannis Manakos from the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH), Georgios Sylaios from the Democritus University of Thrace (DUTH) and Irakli Matcharashvili Green Alternative (GRAL). The partners answered the questions and presented an overview of PONTOS. The press conference generated 27 publications about the project by local and national Media.
Black Sea Basin Joint Operational Programme (BSB JOP) – Regions of Central Macedonia and East Macedonia and Thrace
Ms Koralia Branioti (CERTH) presented the objectives and the future priorities of the Black Sea Basin Joint Operational Progamme with a focus on the regions of Central Macedonia, East Macedonia and Thrace. Ms Branioti mentioned the projects that are implemented in the framework of the Programme, and especially those that are focused on environmental issues. Then she presented the Open Message, which was sent by Mr Dimitris Liatsis, Officer of the Managing Authority of European Territorial Cooperation Programmes of Thessaloniki. Mr Liatsis underlined that “according to the draft document, the priorities of the next Black Sea Basin Programme will be: 1. Smart and Blue Region through innovative technological developments in support of the blue economy and research on integrated coastal, and 2. Clean and Green Region through the climate change adaptation, risk prevention and disaster resistance, and through the protection of the Natural Environment, conservation of Biodiversity and Green Infrastructures”.
Environmental Projects implemented in Thessaloniki
The Workshop offered a session on the environmental projects that are implemented in Thessaloniki aiming to allow discussion on the activities that take place in the area and to actively encourage networking. The session included six (6) presentations of projects that focus on environmental monitoring and remote sensing: Ms Matina Katsiapi, Ηydrobiologist from EYATH S.A. presented the Project WQeMS by highlighting that “the remote sensing tools provide unique information for the monitoring and for the management of water resources”; Ms Machi Simeonidou, Managing Director of Agroapps PC emphasized on the importance of remote sensing in sustainable agriculture practices by presenting the projects DIANA, BEACON and ENVISION; Ms Panagiota Syropoulou, Senior Project Manager & Air Quality Expert from DRAXIS Environmental S.A. presented the projects CALLISTO, EXHAUSTION, EIFFEL by focusing on the use of Copernicus data in the environmental monitoring; Prof Georgios Sylaios (DUTH) presented the overview of the project ODYSSEA; Mr Konstantinos Vlachos (CERTH) presented aqua3S project about oil spill detection in inland waters; Mr Alexandros Zamihos (CERTH) introduced the project SnapEarth with his presentation titled as “EarthPress- enabling Artificial Intelligence for real- time generation of News Articles related to disasters based on EO data”.
Live Demo and Tutorial of PONTOS Platform
In this session the PONTOS platform was presented and a step by step tutorial of use was presented for the participants. Ms Maria Banti (CERTH) presented the PONTOS Data Cube, Mr Eleftherios Katsikis (CERTH) the PONTOS Web Application and Dr Nikolaos Kokkos (DUTH) presented the WEBGIS component of the platform.
The Workshop ended with a short discussion between the working team and the participants. Most of the attendees expressed their gratitude for the opportunities offered and asked for updates, when possible.