Special Sessions

The Organizing Committee invites contributions to the following Special Sessions:

Microbial Ecotoxicology using –omics and classical approaches

Conveners: Dr. Anastasia Tsiola; tba

Nowadays, a range of anthropogenic perturbances affects marine and inland-water ecosystems mainly due to the accumulation of pollutants in the water column and sediments. Microbial communities, consisted of viruses up to micro-eukaryotes, are constantly exposed to chemical alterations in the water and sediment characteristics, while they also are capable to tolerate, transform or transfer the pollutants within the trophic webs.

This special session welcomes oral and poster presentations that focus on the broad field of microbial ecotoxicology, i.e. the study of microbial communities under the “stress” of toxic compounds released via human activities. Metals, metal oxides, nanomaterials, micro- and nano- plastics, organic pollutants, hydrocarbons, contaminants of emerging concern, antibiotics, pesticides and other hazardous materials may be the target of the ecotoxicological assay, either as part of a monitoring project or a smaller-scale survey. Both studies in the field (offshore, coastal zone, raptorial zone, lagoons, inland waters, deep and shallow sediments and water-column) and in the laboratory (mono- or poly- culture, micro- or mesocosms, short or long incubation) will be discussed. Ecotoxicity in the level of a single cell, a population or the total community and the responses (e.g. tolerance, adaptation, resilience) studied using –omics technologies ([meta]genomics, [meta]transcriptomics, [meta]proteomics, metabolomics) in combination with classical tools (morphology, abundance, productivity) and further biotechnological applications (e.g. bioremediation) will provide us novel insights into the nature of the changing oceans and the associated consequences in ecosystem sustainability and management.

Science learning outside the classroom: excellence, creativity and recommendations

Conveners: Prof. Phoebe Koundouri; Dr. Tanya Zervoudaki

Since 2010, Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) have been at the forefront of the field of Science in EU Society. The main aspects of RRI are: the joint participation of researchers, industry and civil society in the process of research and innovation, gender equality and the release of the full potential of society, education in Natural Sciences to promote the future needs of society, open access to the results of publicly funded research. Therefore, Responsible Research and Innovation asks for close cooperation between research and society, and one of the first requirements for such a framework is contact between the various stakeholders. The aim is for European citizens to be prepared with the knowledge and skills that come from the process of formal, non-formal and informal learning, to actively participate in an increasingly complex scientific and technological world. With regards to marine sciences, communication and popularization with the wider public is becoming more and more important to raise awareness and understanding among the communities that a healthy ocean is vital for the well-being of generations to come.

Based on the above, as a special session of the Symposium we propose a series of lectures that will:

  • evaluate the current state of non-formal and informal education using examples from marine science and global climate change;
  • identify and present the best practices for learning science outside the classroom through a wide network at European level;
  • identify a step by step procedure for translating scientific questions from teachers & scientists to be used for large audience with the help of scientific mediators;
  • present scientific knowledge as a tool for lifelong learning which is useful and effective for the active participation of citizens;
  • provide recommendations and indicative actions to improve science education outside classrooms, in order to become more responsive to the needs and ambitions of society and reflect its values, assisting to that end, the EU policies.
  • identify how science education can help Europe meet its goals and equip citizens, enterprise and industry in Europe with the skills and competences needed to provide sustainable and competitive solutions to the challenges we face.
  • encourage the need for collaboration between formal, non-formal and informal educational providers, enterprise and civil society should be enhanced to ensure relevant and meaningful engagement of all societal actors with science and increase uptake of science studies and science-based careers to improve employability and competitiveness

Submarine Groundwater Aquifers, a scientific challenge of high socioeconomic impact, technological and scientific advances

Conveners: Dr. Dionysis Patiris; tba

Near- and offshore Submarine Groundwater Aquifers (SGAs) holding considerable amount of fresh or brackish groundwater are regarded as a promising but yet unexplored source of water. For millennia the population of coastal regions uses near shore submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) sources as water resource for drinking, hygiene, agriculture etc. Nowadays, the sustainable use of SGAs emerges as significant contributor in the efforts to mitigate the problem of water scarcity that threatens many Mediterranean coastal regions, islands and countries. During the last decades the scientific community has highlighted the important role of SGD in coastal biogeochemical processes and hydrological cycles, by releasing nutrients, trace elements, gases and pollutants in coastal ecosystems. The session is dedicated to recent technological and scientific advances in exploration, localization, water quality monitoring and quantification of near and offshore SGAs and to the understanding of the socioeconomic impact of SGAs in coastal communities.

Argo floats contribution to the marine research and operational monitoring of the Mediterranean Sea – Evolution, Achievements, and Future Needs

Conveners: Dr. Dimitris Kassis; Dr. Giulio Notarstefano; Dr. Estérine Evrard

This Special Session focuses on the extension of the Argo network in the Mediterranean Sea and the potential of the Argo floats array to provide high quality information on the oceanic variability, the dynamics of the physical state, and the marine ecosystems in its sub-basins. Based on the example of the international Argo programme, which has evolved to an essential component of the global ocean observing system, the Mediterranean Argo network is already providing unprecedented amounts of cost effective and high spatiotemporal resolution data. However, the number of countries participating in the Mediterranean Argo network is small; a fact that underlines the need of establishing a solid base of co-operation activities between scientists and policy makers across the Mediterranean network that will further boost the oceanographic monitoring and research in the area.

Focusing on these aspects, this session aims to promote the Euro-Argo ERIC’s objectives that describe the necessity of international cooperation for the monitoring needs of the European Marginal Seas both under technical, and scientific point of view. Following up the successful 1st Mediterranean and Black Seas Argo workshop, that was held in April 2021 under the framework of Euro-Argo RISE H2020 project, this session aims to present the potential of Argo, highlight its importance for operational oceanography, climate studies, scientific research, and environmental monitoring, and contribute to the development of new collaborations for the enlargement of the Mediterranean Argo community.

During the session, Euro-Argo ERIC executives and experts will present the on-going efforts, achievements, and future targets on the abovementioned fields. Scientists with similar expertise and interest are invited to attend and present their work whilst, in particular scientists from Mediterranean countries outside Euro-Argo ERIC will be supported to present their research studies and activities. The session will include the following topics of interest:

Field activities and synergies: Argo missions in the Mediterranean, the coastal Argo case, co-operation on deployments and recoveries, synergies with other platforms.

BGC Argo, new technologies/sensors: The biogeochemical Argo component at a global and Mediterranean scale, new biogeochemical sensors, biogeochemical data.

Argo and environmental policies: Argo and environmental monitoring, the contribution of Argo to the MSFD and the Green Deal.

Argo and climate studies: Monitoring climatic variability with Argo, the role of Deep Argo, Ocean Heat and Salt content variability.

This session is supported by the Euro-Argo Research Infrastructure Sustainability and Enhancement Project (https://www.euro-argo.eu/EU-Projects/Euro-Argo-RISE-2019-2022), and the Euro-Argo ERIC Office (https://www.euro-argo.eu/About-us/The-Research-Infrastructure/Euro-Argo-ERIC-office).

Anthropogenic Litter and Plastics Pollution

Conveners: Prof. Konstantinos Topouzelis; Dr. Christina Zeri

Special Session on Anthropogenic Litter and Plastics Pollution

Anthropogenic litter and plastics pollution are widely recognized as a global problem of ecological significance, with several adverse effects in the environment. This special session is dedicated to litter and plastics pollution of the aquatic environment covering all related aspects. We invite oral and poster presentations dealing with observations and methods of litter and plastics from macro- to nano- scale; sources and pathways; distribution and transport/accumulation modes; modelling approaches; chemical interactions; impact on biota through ingestion, colonization or entanglement; effects on the natural ecosystem functioning; experimental studies on the optical properties of ocean plastics relevant to earth observation; algorithms for marine litter detection using earth observation platforms; methods and algorithms to infer the potential accumulation areas and the movement of marine litter (e.g. front detection, oceanic current estimates from satellite, altimetry); and multi sensor earth observation approaches (combination of SAR/optical/multi – hyperspectral). Presentations related to scientific initiatives and projects as well as to citizen –science initiatives and mitigation strategies, are also welcome.

Vulnerability of freshwater ecosystems to multiple stressors impacts

Conveners: Dr. Ioannis Karaouzas; Dr. Eleni Kalogianni

Freshwater ecosystems, including streams and rivers, are among the most dynamic, complex and diverse aquatic ecosystems, but also among the most threatened ones. They are vulnerable to natural drought and anthropogenic water stress and the combination of extensive water abstraction, river fragmentation, and climate change has dramatically reduced river runoff. Mediterranean freshwater ecosystems in particular, have a remarkable and a unique native fauna, adapted to natural drought events but are also exposed to point and non-point pollution from industrial and agricultural activities. The combined effects of pollution and water stress may produce cumulative impacts on the biota of freshwater ecosystems as they are subjected to a concomitant habitat shrinkage, water quality deterioration and increased competition for limited resources. In this special session, we invite oral and/or poster presentations dealing with multiple stressor effects and their impacts on freshwater ecosystems and on their biodiversity and functioning.

The big picture matters: Whole ecosystem approach in the field and in experiments

Conveners: Dr. Paraskevi Pitta; Dr. Ioulia Santi; Dr. Anastasia Tsiola; Iordanis Magiopoulos

Aquatic systems are very complex; they contain organisms that vary in terms of taxonomy, size and trophic modes and include viruses, archaea, heterotrophic bacteria and cyanobacteria, flagellated and ciliated protozoa, a wide range of phytoplankton and mixotrophic protists, all exhibiting complex interactions. Although studying single species in lab experiments may provide valuable information on specific characteristics such as dependence on abiotic factors or growth, ingestion rates etc, it is also valuable to study the complexity of natural aquatic systems in terms of multispecies community structure and function in relation to the environment. Such studies may provide information on how aquatic ecosystems respond to natural and/or anthropogenic stressors and may assist to predict the ecosystem response to future scenarios of climate change.

This session welcomes studies from the field or from experiments, studies that comprise several trophic levels of microbial food webs from marine or freshwater, plankton or benthic environments.

Assessing the relationships between lithospheric processes and seafloor topography at divergent margins (Aeolian Arc, Hellenic Arc)

Conveners: Dr. Alessandra Savini; Dr. Paraskevi Nomikou

This Special Session will promote actions devoted to investigate to what extent endogenic processes (tectonics, volcanism, and fluid flow circulation) at submarine divergent margins (Aeolian Arc, Hellenic Arc) affect and interact with exogenic processes, over long- and short-term spatio-temporal scales, with a focus on deep-sea sedimentary processes and best practices in terms of technologies and methodological approaches.

The imprint of deep processes in the resulting landforms and even on patterns of deformation with attendant hazards, has been mostly recognized and documented indeed over large spatio-temporal scales, and a comprehensive understanding regarding to what extent even spatially smaller and temporally shorter endogenous processes affect the submarine landforms is still missing. In addition, still there’s a consistent gap in clarifying processes in terms of magnitude and frequency in their occurrences, which is of great relevance especially for geohazard assessment.

Experts from the abovementioned fields are invited to the session to present new evidence and synthetic approaches to the following topics of interest:

Volcano-tectonic: The lithosphere and endogenic processes over a wide range of spatio-temporal scales

Submarine geomorphology: The lithosphere and its interactions with submarine geomorphic processes

Fluid-flow circulation: The lithosphere and fluid circulation through rocks and sediment in the subseafloor

Habitat mapping: The lithosphere and the distribution of benthic habitat

Seafloor mapping: Ad-hoc technologies and methodological approaches.

This session is supported by the International Lithosphere Program (ILP – https://www.scl-ilp.org ), LITHOMAR project for 2021-2025.

Mediterranean Sea (and Fresh Water) Literacy in the Era of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)

Conveners: Dr Yolanda Koulouri, Argiro Andriopoulou

The United Nations declared 2021-2030 to be a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, to support and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14, concerning the sustainability of the ocean and its resources (Conserve and Sustainably Use the Oceans, Seas and Marine Resources), included in the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development which supports other SDGs. The Decade aims to achieve major scientific and technological progress by generating seven societal outcomes including considerable advances and increase of Fresh Water and Ocean Literacy for sustainability in society, from education and school curricula, to decision-makers and the public at large.

Ocean Literacy (OL) has been defined as “an understanding of the ocean’s influence on you and your influence on the ocean” (Cava et al., 2005), which means that an ocean-literate citizen should understand essential ocean issues, be able to communicate about the ocean in a meaningful way and can make informed and responsible decisions regarding the ocean and its resources. Consequently, OL is not only about knowledge of ocean issues, but it is also about the ability of people to protect, conserve, sustainably use and manage marine resources.

The Mediterranean Sea is characterized as one of the most important global biodiversity hotspots. However, it is also described as being “under siege” due to multiple human pressures on biodiversity, the functioning of marine ecosystems, and their capability for providing essential goods and services to human society. To address these pressures, many actions are needed, aiming, among others, at establishing Ocean Literacy (OL) across the Mediterranean countries and preparing future generations of Mediterranean Sea-literate citizens.

Based on the above, the aim of this special session on Mediterranean Sea and Fresh Water Literacy is to present relevant studies of marine scientists and educators currently taking place in the Mediterranean Sea region as well as keynote presentations concerning OL issues worldwide in the Era of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030.