Characterisation and forecast for pollutants of microbiological origin in an aquatic environment on the Nord-Pas-de-Calais Picar

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The flow of water and transport in the eastern area of the Channel is a result of the interaction between the tide, atmospheric forcing, fluvial inputs and variations in sea level of an origin other than tidal. The strength of the currents and their variable nature condition the drift and the dispersal of pollutants in the aquatic environment and would seem to be of utmost importance as far as the quality of seafood products is concerned.


The usage of a high spatial resolution coastal traffic model, in conjunction with a system of observation of the currents (high-frequency radars (HF) and very high frequency (VHF)), represent a real breakthrough in the field of current surveillance and the transport of pollutants in the marine environment.


Our interest will, at the same time, focus on the detection of sea currents in the eastern area of the Channel with the help of  HF and VHF radars and for circulation and transport modelling in order to provide assistance to  public and coastal management authorities in the decision-making process in the event of microbiological contamination of coastal waters, especially in the matter of  the management of shellfish production and picking zones.


The main part of the work will be centred on the implementation and validation of  Ifremer's regional hydrodynamic model (MARS-3D), with an integrated transport model, in order to accurately reproduce current fields in the sector under study. These fields will then be used to simulate the drift and dispersal of microbiological material in such a way as to be able to:

- define vulnerable or highly sensitive zones and environmental conditions (hydrodynamic, meteorological?) favourable to contamination of microbiological origin,

- provide development and contamination scenarios,

- better understand past episodes of contamination.


A system made up of three elements: observations, modelling of sea currents and pollutant transport forecast, will be implemented, validated and used until it becomes operative. This system will be made available to regional users within the context of a strategy to develop tools to assist in the management of shellfish activities and shellfish picking


The research project which will be undertaken will be part of:

- one of the «large regional research networks»: environmental sciences, risk analysis and management,


- an «emerging technology»: aquatic and shellfish resources,


- and will contribute to the setting up of an ELICO ? Ifremer Boulogne-sur-Mer research group.




The contaminant transport forecast model for the coastal environment of the Nord Pas-de-Calais Picardie, developed within the framework of this study, will provide information on probable episodes of coastal water contamination in shellfish production areas through these scenarios developed during mathematical simulations. This will allow coastal managers to take measures to warn and prevent, necessary in order to limit economic losses due to contamination.


Perfected and validated in the region of the Nord Pas-de-Calais Picardie, this system could be used to study the transport of contaminants in other regions of coastal France. The approach which is adopted could be generalised to suit other types of contaminants  (radioactive elements or other biological compartments (fish larvae , planctonic cells within the framework of massive proliferations, macro-algae).

In a wider sense, the implementation and the use of the surveillance system /current and transport forecast in the Channel will benefit national and international trade by providing information likely to increase navigational safety and efficiency or by helping to make decisions during lifesaving operations at sea and in locating drifting objects.



This project, approved by the  AQUIMER Pole of Competitiveness on 23 May 2007, in association with the ELICO laboratory (Ecosystèmes Littoraux et Côtiers) at the Université du Littoral Côte d'Opale in Wimereux, the Environement Resources laboratory at IFREMER in Boulogne-sur-Mer and the Agence de l'Eau Artois-Picardie.




16 rue du Commandant Charcot
62200 Boulogne-sur-Mer F

Tel : 00 333 21 10 78 98

Fax : +33 3 21 30 33 22



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