Tackling the pollution and safety of the Baltic Sea with Copernicus data

The Baltic Sea region is home to more than 85 million people, of whom 15 million live on the coast, and is one of the most intensively used seas on the planet. Whether it is shipping, fishing, energy cables and pipelines, or tourism and recreation, all these activities have an impact on the unique Baltic Sea region.

With the funding of EU’s Copernicus Programme and together with EUMETSAT, Copernicus Marine Environment Service and Estonian Environment Agency we set out to tackle the challenges of the Baltic Sea with the opportunities the Copernicus marine data offers. On Nov 22-24th the Copernicus #OceanHack brought together marine data & remote sensing experts, designers, developers, data scientists, business visionaries and experts in marine fields from all over the Baltics and further to Tallinn, Estonia.

“Estonia is the best place to hold an environmental hackathon. The Baltic Sea is a unique ecosystem that with it’s numerous human population and busy vessel traffic is unfortunately also one of the most vulnerable seas,” says Director General of the Estonian Environment Agency, Taimar Ala. “The mission of the Estonian Environment Agency is to collect data and make it available for users. The fact is that so far a large amount of data hasn’t been interesting to anyone. Thus it is important to bring together people, who will make data tell stories about the environmental condition and help raise awareness of the whole society.”

This 48 hours showed us that the state of the Baltic Sea and climate change are settling more strongly in people’s minds and actions as tracking, tackling and raising awareness of sea pollution was the hottest topic of the OceanHack. Starting from understanding how the rivers surrounding the Baltic Sea contribute to the pollution, to educating the next generations on how to keep track of the state of our sea and why it is important.

10 teams with members from 14 nations built prototypes of solutions using the Copernicus marine data. This 48 hours was as unpredictable as the sea and we had it all - pivots, changing team members and fight against the short time. In the end, all the teams mastered surfing the waves of the OceanHack to show their working prototypes on Sunday. “Many of the presented solutions would benefit greatly to the condition of our Baltic Sea if they were realized. The teams were professional and participants used the data available skillfully, “ comments jury member Kaupo Heinma, Deputy Secretar General of Estonian Ministry of Environment.

From the many pollution focused projects the overall winner of the hackathon turned out to be a solution aimed at increasing the safety for people going on waterbody ice. As the winter in Estonia is fast approaching, their goal is to make the application that gives you information about ice thickness in the combination of satellite data and fishermen’s measurements, ready to use when the ice season starts. We have grounds to believe that this might just happen as this is a very relatable topic for many Estonians, including Kaupo Heinma from Estonian Ministry of Environment: “As a Sunday fisherman I believe that many other besides myself are ready to contribute to the better monitoring of the ice condition with their measurements.”

IceWise team is currently talking to TalTech, CGI and Kemit to understand the reach and target groups of their projects for collaboration. "We didn't enter the hackathon with the sole goal to win, but we rather felt that we have a cool idea and it would be really great to make it happen in reality. Talking with interest groups before and during the OceanHack gave us the understanding that the information on ice thickness interests many and this kind of application is much anticipated. At the moment we can definitely say that the data scientists in our team are working with Sentinel-1 data for developing ice products and we believe that soon the users will have a better option to track ice data online and forward their measurements and notes, " explains the winning team lead Kristi Uuderberg what they've been up to since the hackathon.

This event came to life thanks to our organizing partners, volunteers team and mentors. Huge thank you to all the mentors who supported the teams! Our host and mentor's head for the whole weekend - Joao Rei from Garage48. Maarika Truu from Garage48 and head of  Startup Estonia. Jaanus Sakkis from Garage48. Kai Rosin from Estonian Environment Agency. The  EUMETSAT mentor's team - Neil Fletcher, Ben Loveday, Mark Higgins, Joana Miguens. Mercator Ocean International mentor's team - Fabrice Messal, David Bazin, Cedric Giordan. Sascha Heising from Cesah. Andres Luhamaa from PlanetOS. Martin Jüssi from CGI Estonia. Priidik Lagemaa from TalTech MSI. Viktor Lillemäe from Zelos.

We always hope that the teams continue their work after the hackathon has finished. Wishing all the success to all the teams. You are all winners and YOU ROCK!
CONGRATULATIONS to the Copernicus #OceanHack winners - here they are!



Application for people who like to go on waterbody ice safely. Key parameter is ice thickness. It is a combination of satellite data and citizen science.

4000€ prize money, Astropreneurs mentoring program,

Free access to WEkEO data platform for 1 year

Team: Anna Roomet - UI design; Sander Rikka - data science; Age Arikas - data science; Martin Laan - developer; Karl Kruuse - developer; Kristi Uudeberg - team lead.

8 bytes

Make Copernicus Sea data available to everybody (students and teachers) in an interactive way.

2000€ prize money, Astropreneurs mentoring program, Free access to 

WEkEO data platform for 1 year,Training at EUMETSAT

Team: Field experts: Julie, Antoine, Noah, Théodore, Colin

Data analysts and developers: Pascal, Ali, Laurent

Marketing and linguistic advice: Claudia.


Sending virtual messages in a bottle

2000€ prize money, Astropreneurs mentoring program

Team: Ieva Ake (Chief Field Research), Anna B (CMO), Anton W (Chief Art Director), Andres Buzzio (CTO)

Technological Achievement special prize


Visualising, how garbage, oil and ships drift in the baltic sea. We use currents, wind and waves data to calculate the drift of the items.

Our plan is to provide this information to governmental institutions to help them be more efficient when cleaning up after shipping accidents in the Baltic sea.

Tickets to Latitude59,

Astropreneurs mentoring program

Rain Saarmäe - dev, Ahmar Siddiqui - dev, Kristo Karp - team lead, Maksym Viushkin - designer, Tatsuki Ishikawa - Data Scientist, Hiromasa Saito - Data Scientist.

Favourite of the Audience
Marine Plastics

Boat sharing platform with intention to emphasize plastic collection from sea, crowdsourcing for science purposes, whoever is applicable to get to the sea wherever without complex and expensive boat renting, lack of knowledge how to approach local fishermens to get to the sea. We create an app, which is also giving extra income for local fishermen to get more use of their everyday activities - unfortunately there is less fish in the sea and they need extra income.

Tickets to sTARTUp Day 2020

Team: Aurimas and Audrius mobile developer; Wanderson UI/UX designer;

Meeli (scientinst, business developer, pitcher)

Astropreneurs mentoring program special prize

IceWise, Flask, DPlast

Project Celeste

A developer's guide to Copernicus services driven by examples. 

Team: Ilya Bolkhovsky (oceanographer, developer, product manager), Aleksei Saenko (developer)


Scientific and user submitted data correlation.

Team: Jānis Gaiķēns - Developer, Artūrs Tabačņiks - Visionary, Andris Lācis - Developer, Jodee Lim - Designer, Jānis Cimbulis - Data Scientist

See the weekend through our photo album. 

Rewatch the final demos and pitches et EUMETSAT Facebook.

See you at the next Garage48 space hackathon!


About the author

kadri tiisvelt

Kadri is the COO of Garage48 with years of experience as a hackathon organizer and community builder. She loves to create and bring together supportive environments for starting entrepreneurs who wish to make their ideas into valuable services and products. 🌸

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