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HELCOM revamps its metadata catalogue, improving the search of over 1000 Baltic Sea maps

Screenshot of the revamped HELCOM Metadata Catalogue

HELCOM has recently launched its revamped HELCOM Metadata Catalogue, a tool that provides context and background to the datasets in the HELCOM Map and Data Service, which contains Baltic-specific geospatial data ranging from status assessments to shipping density maps, and totalling up to more than 1,000 individual maps.

“With the new catalogue, our users can easily browse or search metadata records, such as information on data collection, lineage, attribute descriptions, date published, format, INSIPRE theme and so on, to quickly acquire context on the dataset and establish if it is relevant for their needs,” said Matthew Richard, the HELCOM coordinator of the Baltic Data Flows project.

The updated resource now has an easy-to-use web interface to search geospatial data across multiple catalogues. The search provides full-text search as well as faceted search such as on keywords, resource types, organizations or scale. Users can easily refine the search and quickly get to the records of interest. 

“The HELCOM Metadata Catalogue is now INSPIRE compatible in terms of metadata standards on HELCOM datasets,” said Richard. “This is important to ensure compliance under the EU INSPIRE directive that aims to facilitate the harmonisation, sharing, and reuse of spatial datasets with multiple users and decision-makers across Europe.”

The Metadata Catalogue is built on the latest stable GeoNetwork version 3.12, which is designed to manage spatially referenced resources that provides powerful metadata editing and search functions. 

The HELCOM GeoNetwork implementation has been configured to be INSPIRE compatible in terms of metadata on datasets and contains a tool to validate metadata records against the INSPIRE validator. The INSPIRE validator and thesauri were used during development to ensure all metadata records are INSPIRE compliant. The metadata catalogue has also been configured for data harvesting to the ‘’, and other relevant metadata harvesting initiatives.

The catalogue was updated as part of the Baltic Data Flows project, which seeks to enhance the sharing and harmonisation of data on the marine environment originating from existing sea monitoring programmes, and to move towards service-based data sharing. The project is being led by HELCOM and co-financed by the Connecting Europe Facility of the European Union.

Baltic Sea Climate Change Fact Sheet: New publication shows latest scientific knowledge on climate change in the Baltic Sea

To provide a better understanding of the effects of climate change in the Baltic Sea, Baltic Earth and HELCOM have recently published the first Baltic Sea Climate Change Fact Sheet. The publication compiles the latest available science in the region on what has now become a global emergency.

“The Baltic Sea Climate Change Fact Sheet provides a summary for policy makers of the latest scientific knowledge on how climate change is currently affecting the Baltic Sea and about what we can expect to happen in the future,” said Prof. Markus Meier from the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde and Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, and chair of the Baltic Earth Science Steering Group, who coordinated the publication as leading authority on climate change in the Baltic Sea. 

According to the fact sheet, in the Baltic Sea, water temperature and sea level will rise, and sea ice cover will decrease – in turn affecting ecosystems and marine species, as well as maritime activities such as shipping, fisheries and aquaculture. 

“Water temperatures of the Baltic Sea have been increasing during the past 100 years and are projected to further increase during the 21st century,” said Prof. Meier, adding that the current projections suggest a largely ice-free Baltic Sea during normal winters by the end of the century.

Jointly developed by Baltic Earth and HELCOM, the Fact Sheet contains information about 34 parameters ranging from air and water temperature to marine and coastal ecosystem services, grouped into six different categories: energy cycle, water cycle, carbon and nutrient cycles, sea level and wind, biota and ecosystems, human activities, and services. 

“With the fact sheets, we want to make sure that decision-makers are informed about the latest scientific knowledge on climate change and its impacts on the marine environment and maritime activities of the Baltic Sea,” said Jannica Haldin who is overseeing climate change related work at HELCOM.

A complete yet concise and easy to read publication, the fact sheet is meant to help policy makers to include climate change considerations in their work and decisions. More broadly, it also seeks to inform the public about the effects of climate change in the Baltic Sea. 

The fact sheet is a summary of the regional counterpart, the Baltic Earth Assessment Reports, of the world wide reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, empowering decision makers to carry out timely, ambitious and coordinated climate action.

About 100 experts from the entire Baltic Sea region were involved in the making of the fact sheet, which was developed by the Joint Climate Change expert network (EN CLIME) run by Baltic Earth and HELCOM. The Baltic Sea Climate Change Fact Sheet is expected to be updated every seven years.