We are happy to send you the second issue of the OT-Med Newsletter. We would like to take this opportunity to inform you about the actions undertaken since the last issue of the Newsletter came out and to indicate a few directions for the close future. Firstly, four post-doctoral fellowships have been attributed (http://www.otmed.fr/spip.php?rubrique66). Secondly, we have selected collaborative projects, scientific events and mobility projects (http://www.otmed.fr/spip.php?article409) after a large call for proposal. All these selections are done by the management board with the help of external referees. We are currently recruiting an engineer in environmental information systems to help the transversal work package 1 in their task of coordinating observation systems and databases. The F. Braudel fellowships cofunded by OT-Med and the Cofund program of European Union under the umbrella of the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme (FMSH, Paris) will be attributed in June 2013 (http://www.otmed.fr/spip.php?article378). We hope to obtain two fellowships at the interface of social and natural sciences.

Prof. Walter Oechel (San Diego State University) has been invited to discuss collaborations in the domain of terrestrial ecology and establish a protocol for student exchanges. Other visits are also planned before the end of the year in different domains: geomorphology and tectonics (Dr Amara Masrouhi, Université de Gabès, Tunisia), sedimentary processes (Pr. Ari Matmon, Hebrew University, Jerusalem), coastal physical oceanography (Pr. Meng Zhou, University of Massachusetts Boston), biology of marine invertebrates (Dr. Prof. Andrey N. Ostrovsky, Department of Palaeontology, University of Vienna, Austria).

Concerning the valorisation sector, a meeting of OT-Med management staff with three "Poles de compétitivité" (risk, water, sea) were organised to detect projects that could be implemented with private companies, and to build a committee of stakeholders. Another meeting was organised with the representatives of local governments, non profit organisations interested in environment (natural parks, Plan Bleu..) in order to define common public orientated projects. We have also participated to science popularization actions like “Souk des Sciences”. This is detailed in the newsletter.

In order to make you more familiar with the actions that we undertake, we will present, in each issue, the work of people involved in OT-Med. It could be some senior researchers, but also postdoctoral fellows or PhD students. This time, it will be Sinan Shi, the engineer in scientific computing and mathematical modelling freshly recruited by OT-Med. He develops the ideas he has about his job and computer modelling in general.

This first year was mainly a year of setting up, but scientific research and international programs are now on the way. For the next year, call for proposals for PhD theses, post-docs, projects, mobility will be continued as planned in the project, but several of these calls will be grouped with the possibility to submit larger projects with functioning and fellowships included. It will save time of the staff, but also of the scientists who are too frequently called on as well for writing projects as for reviewing the submitted projects.

A meeting will be organised 4-6 December 2013, in the Observatoire of Haute Provence, for presentation of the results obtained by our PhD students and postdoctoral fellows and thinking future directions. We hope to have the participation of most of the members of the international committee.

In a near future, we will launch a project on the Marseille city with the help of the information system engineer and various collaborations (including non academic stakeholders), taking the opportunity of the numerous observation systems managed by the Institut Pytheas. Marseille is a city, which concentrates numerous environmental and urban issues, related to global changes, pollution, natural risks and social problems. It has a natural (terrestrial and marine) park close to a large harbour. There are numerous interactions between the city, the hinterland and the sea. We do not want to withdraw into a local problematic, but this city could be considered as a model for further studies in the Mediterranean Basin. Scientific questions which emerge are numerous: the mitigation of an urban heat island at the interface of mountain and sea-shore, the urban and natural biodiversity and its conservation in a context of global changes (climate, human pressure), the historical context of the environmental changes of the city, the risk for the suburb related to forest fires, the interactions between the city and the sea-shore (tourism, pollution), the land use changes and the landscape modifications around the city, the contribution of the region to the carbon budget (ICOS network).

Good reading and evidently, we are open to any suggestions concerning both the contents and the form of our newsletter.

Joël Guiot, Director of OT-Med