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CALYPSO Series of Projects
Projects concept & coordination Prof. Aldo Drago
Head, Physical Oceanography Research Group
Department of Geosciences, Faculty of Science, University of Malta
CALYPSO South addresses the challenges of safer marine transportation, protection
of human lives at sea, and safeguarding of marine and coastal resources from
irreversible damages. It is a commitment to put technological advancement and
scientific endeavour at the service of humanitarian responses, reducing risks in
sea faring, and protecting the marine environment.
CALYPSO South follows the trail of the previous CALYPSO and CALYPSO Follow On
initiatives, with the overall objectives of extending the CALYPSO HF radar network
coverage to the western part of the Malta-Sicily Channel and the southern approaches
to the Maltese archipelago, developing new monitoring and forecasting tools, and
delivering tailored operational downstream services to assist national responsible
entities in their maritime security, rescue and emergency response commitments.
The expected changes comprise intelligent ICT support to responsible entities to
limit intervention times and narrow down search areas.
Main outputs consist of weather stations for integrated port safety applications,
additional HF radar stations to improve the coverage, quality and availability of
data for targeted downstream services.
Beneficiary responsible entities include the Armed Forces of Malta, Transport Malta,
Civil Protection Departments (of both Malta and Sicily), Italian Coast Guard, and
Marina Militare Italiana. The resultant improved efficiency, range and reliability
of their operations will enable superior security and safety at sea.
In CALYPSO SOUTH a synergistic approach between Maltese and Sicilian partners
optimizes the transnational cooperation. A cross-border approach is required by
the inherent and borderless characteristics of the topic. Indeed, the observed
patterns of variability of sea currents and wind suggest that a hazard triggered
in a site could threaten the counterpart site; moreover security at sea largely
involves trans-boundary waters.
The project is a further building block towards the phased creation of permanent
structures encompassing a comprehensive Marine Electronic Highway in the area.
CALYPSO FO Outline
CALYPSO FO was a 6-month intensive project which built on the achievements of the
previous, successful CALYPSO project. It delivered a more robust HF radar monitoring
system of sea surface currents in the Malta-Sicily Channel with the installation
of an additional radar on the Sicilian side.
The partnership comprised one Maltese partner, the Physical Oceanography Research
Group from the University of Malta, and four Sicilian partners: University of Palermo
(Polo Territoriale Universitario della Provincia di Trapani), L'Istituto per l'Ambiente
Marino Costiero del Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (IAMC-CNR), University of
Catania (CUTGANA) and ARPA SICILIA (Agenzia Regionale per la Protezione dell’Ambiente).
Coast guards, civil protection organisations and local environmental protection
agencies in both Malta and Sicily stand to benefit from this new technology, as
do companies managing oil extraction platforms and tourist organisations reliant
on unspoilt coastlines and safer maritime transportation. The CALYPSO data is
shedding new insights on the dynamics of the sea in this part of the Mediterranean,
leading to research efforts also related to improved forecasting of the marine
environment, protection from oil spills, search and rescue, and fisheries.
CALYPSO was a 2-year project partly financed by the EU under the Operational Programme
Italia-Malta 2007-2013, and co-ordinated by Prof. Aldo Drago from the Physical
Oceanography Unit (now the Physical Oceanography Research Group) of the University
of Malta. It brought together 3 other partners from Malta – namely Transport Malta,
Civil Protection Department and Armed Forces of Malta – and 4 partners from Sicily –
ARPA Sicilia, IAMC-CNR Capo Granitola, Università degli Studi di Palermo (UNIPA)
and Università di Catania (CUTGANA). The consortium consisted of research entities
and also public entities with responsibilities for civil and environmental
protection, surveillance, security and response to hazards.
The main project deliverable was the setting up of a permanent and fully operational
HF radar observing system, capable of recording (in real-time with hourly updates)
surface currents in the Malta-Sicily Channel. The system consists of HF radar
installations on the northern Malta and southern Sicilian shores at selected sites
and combines stations to elaborate and publish data to users.
Collected data, combined to numerical models, are intended to primarily support
applications to optimise intervention in case of oil spill response as well as
endow tools for search and rescue, security, safer navigation, improved metro-marine
forecasts, monitoring of sea conditions in critical areas such as proximity to
ports, and better management of the marine space between Malta and Sicily.
Partners shared experiences and built on existing practices and undertook new joint
initiatives targeting key problem issues that put at risk the coastal and marine
resources especially from oil pollution at sea. The project further envisaged the
participation of public authorities to enable the full exploitation of the system,
improve exchange of information and prepare a common base for joint interventions
in the case of accidents and emergencies.
The project also served for capacity building in the monitoring of the coastal seas
and adjoining resources.
The routine acquisition of multi-disciplinary, spatially widespread, long-term data
sets of the ocean and coastal seas has triggered an unprecedented leap in the economic
value of ocean data and information, and has additionally target multiple applications
The project put Malta and Sicily at the forefront of such initiatives in the
Mediterranean and has served as a stepping stone to add on to the system in the
future to have a coverage of the full marine space around the Maltese Islands and
the Sicilian perimeter including the coastal areas.