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    Climate research by the sea and in it

    Located on Antikythera, a small, almost uninhabited island between Crete and the Peloponnese, the Observatory will carry out atmospheric and climate data collection as a research station with laboratories and lodging for visiting and resident scientists and technicians.

    First signature
    EUR 57,500,000
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    € 57,500,000
    Greece : € 57,500,000
    Services : € 57,500,000
    Signature date(s)
    8/07/2020 : € 16,500,000
    8/07/2020 : € 41,000,000

    Summary sheet

    Release date
    5 February 2020
    Signed | 08/07/2020
    Project name
    Promoter - financial intermediary
    Proposed EIB finance (Approximate amount)
    Total cost (Approximate amount)
    EUR 58 million
    EUR 78 million
    • Services - Professional, scientific and technical activities

    The project concerns investments that will improve our understanding of the sources and impact of climate change and is expected to identify ways to mitigate and adapt to it, including economically, which is a priority on the European political and research agenda.

    The new vessel will complement vessels of other countries in terms of coverage of the East Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea and the Red Sea, which are quickly reachable from Greece. The geophysical observatory PANGEA will provide harmonized, reliable, and documented open access observational data of climate, energy and geophysical parameters. The project has two components: a) the marine component concerns the replacement of the existing oceanographic vessel R/V AEGAEO by a new, ocean-going, multi-purpose, state-of-the-art equipped research vessel b) the atmospheric component refers to the establishment of the Panhellenic Geographical Observatory of Antikythera (PANGEA), a national research infrastructure for climate change.

    Environmental aspects

    The project covers research facilities of a kind that are not specifically mentioned in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive 2014/52/EU amending the Directive 2011/92/EU, though the project is covered by Annex II of the Directive in relation to urban development. The EIB ank's services will verify during appraisal whether an EIA is required by the competent authority. In addition, the proposed location for the new atmospheric research infrastructure is the island of Antikythera and is located within two Natura 2000 sites. One site is a Special Conservation Area (SAC) and the other is a Special Protection Area (SPA) for birds species. The Bank's services will verify during the appraisal the project's compliance with the Habitats and Birds Directive (92/43/EEC and 2009/147/EC) and the obtaining of other relevant environmental authorisations for both project components as required. The project will contain new construction of public buildings; therefore, compliance with directive 2010/32/EU on the energy performance in buildings will be verified during the appraisal.

    The Promoter will have to ensure that contracts for the implementation of the project will be tendered in accordance with the relevant applicable EU procurement legislation, Directive 2014/24/EU, as well as Directive 89/665/EEC as interpreted by the Court of Justice of the EU, with publication of tender notices in the EU Official Journal, as and where required.


    Before financing approval by the Board of Directors, and before loan signature, projects are under appraisal and negotiation. The information and data provided on this page are therefore indicative.
    They are provided for transparency purposes only and cannot be considered to represent official EIB policy (see also the Explanatory notes).


    Publication Date
    27 May 2020
    Document language
    Main Topic
    Document Number
    Document Focus
    Environmental Information
    Project Number
    Publicly available
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    Inside the project

    How and Why

    Tackling the brain drain


    • Fill the void for a fully equipped atmospheric and geophysical research station in southern Europe that can produce accurate data for climate models
    • Bridge the financing gap for scientific projects in Greece
    • Help tackle the brain drain that has deprived Greece of highly trained scientists


    • The geophysical and atmospheric observatory will provide harmonized, reliable, and open-access data on climate, energy and geophysical parameters
    • Both projects help scientists observe and predict climate change globally, including monitoring seismic activity
    • Innovative construction of the research vessel: at 70 metres in length and 16 metres wide, it will be equipped with sizeable multi-purpose laboratories and spacious open decks.
    • Data collection on sea temperature and salinity, sampling sea floor sediments
    • Monitoring of the sea pollution on the surface, water column and the seabed, including the health of coastal and open sea habitats and their ecosystems
    • Explore the deepest parts of the Mediterranean, including active underwater volcanoes, that could be the source of biotechnological discoveries and innovations


    Vital data to predict natural disasters

    • Help Greek civil protection authorities forecast and possibly avoid severe effects of natural disasters
    • Strengthen the preservation of biodiversity by observing how the ecosystem is changing: for example, by studying invasive species that arrive from tropical waters and are now thriving due to the rise in the temperature of the seawater
    • Support pan-European and international collaboration: The data and the facilities will be accessible to foreign scientific missions, to conduct experiments or other projects
    • Promote societal benefits, related to reversing the population decline of Antikythera and improving coastal shipping in this border area
    The observatory is a big leap forward in measuring atmospheric parameters and building climate models for the south-eastern Mediterranean.
    Prof. Manolis Plionis

    President, National Observatory of Athens

    The observatory will be ecologically built to protect the environment.


    Modern observatory, ancient location

    The new oceanographic research vessel will be 70 metres long and 16 metres wide.

    It’s more than fitting that the tiny Greek island of Antikythera, off the west tip of Crete, will be host to the new atmospheric and geophysical research centre — the island has a connection to Greece’s ancient scientists.

    Until now, this island has been best known for being where the  “Antikythera mechanism” was discovered on an ancient shipwreck. This sophisticated, geared device, more than 2 100 years old, was an analogue computer, capable of calculating the movement of the planets and stars as well as coming eclipses and the dates of the next Olympic Games.

    But more than that, Antikythera has been selected as the location of a state-of-the-art atmospheric and geophysical research station because it satisfies a number of scientific criteria:

    • its remote location and very few permanent residents mean that human intervention and air pollution are minimal
    • it is at a key crossroads of air currents carrying desert dust from the Sahara, air pollution from major urban areas, and volcanic ash from Mount Etna
    • its atmospheric conditions enable reliable and representative measurement of atmospheric aerosols and natural background levels of greenhouse gases.

    The observatory will be sustainably built and will provide its own energy via solar panels to protect the environment, but also so as not to hamper the sensitivity of its equipment.

    This research station also fills a void in the Mediterranean region, which despite being one of the areas most affected by climate change, has the least scientific infrastructure to produce data.

    Hellenic Centre for Marine Research
    We have not financed something like this in Europe. This is cutting edge infrastructure on these areas and it is fulfilling to see that the investment can also have an impact socially, by keeping researchers in Greece.
    Anthony Friedman

    Engineer, European Investment Bank

    Right now we don’t know about the biodiversity of the deep-sea ecosystem.
    Tanya Zervoudaki

    Researcher, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research

    The new oceanographic research vessel for the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, built to be fuel efficient, will be capable of carrying out missions in the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, the Red Sea, and potentially even in the Atlantic Ocean.

    It will carry a remotely operated vehicle that can observe, measure, and sample at great depths, as well as state of the art multibeam echosounders that can provide valuable information on sea floor morphology, and numerous high-tech scientific instruments in support of cutting-edge shallow and deep-sea research.

    Tanya Zervoudaki, a researcher with the HCMR, says the new boat will give the centre and other scientists critical tools for research.

    The larger size of the vessel means it will be more stable for delicate lab processes like DNA extraction, Zervoudaki says. But just as important is its capacity to make new discoveries. “Right now we don’t know about the biodiversity of the deep-sea ecosystem,” she says. “Maybe we can find new species, or even enzymes or bacteria that could help human health or with adaptation for other organisms.”

    Financing for scientific projects is scarce, especially in the period of austerity in Greece since the financial crisis.




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