Thursday, 13 November 2008

GEBCO One Minute Grid version 2.0 released

The British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) maintains and updates the GEBCO One Minute Grid on behalf of the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) community. The One Minute Grid provides global bathymetry data on a one-arc-minute grid and is part of the GEBCO Digital Atlas.

Version 2.0 (released November 2008) is now available for download. You may opt to download the complete netCDF grid file or a user defined area. It includes updates for

  • The Arctic Ocean from version 2.23 of the International Bathymetric Chart of the Arctic Ocean (IBCAO)
  • Shallow water areas around India, the Korean Peninsula and South Africa
Further information is available in the version 2.0 documentation

Shallow water areas around the Korean Peninsula. ©

Later in 2008, GEBCO will be releasing a 30 arc-second interval global bathymetric grid. It has been generated by combining quality-controlled ship depth soundings with interpolation between sounding points guided by satellite-derived gravity data. It is a global terrain model for ocean and land with land data taken from the NASA Space Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM30) data set.

This data set will also be made available through the grid download application.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

BODC participates in the HUMBOLDT project

The British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) is participating in the HUMBOLDT project, which will help provide a framework for geo data harmonisation and service integration across Europe.

The objective is to build and test tools to allow organisations to exchange data and information more easily, with the aim of enabling an improved response to disaster management.

More information is available from the BODC HUMBOLDT project pages.

HUMBOLDT and Europe ©

What is BODC's role?

One of the key tasks within the HUMBOLDT project is to test the architecture and tools created. To achieve this objective various scenarios will be developed and applied under realistic conditions, for example: an oil spill in international waters.

BODC's involvement is in adapting an existing operational oil spill model. This is being carried out in collaboration with the National Centre for Ocean Forecasting and will use live feeds of ocean currents and weather provided by the Met Office.

The model will be used to test the software components developed by the HUMBOLDT team in other work packages, focusing on interoperability between oil spill models, thus allowing data and information to be exchanged easily in the event of an international incident.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Rothera Time Series (RaTS) data is now available from the BODC

Through our partnership with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the Rothera Oceanographic and Biological Time Series (RaTS) data set is now accessible via the British Oceanographic Data Centre's (BODC) online series request facility.

Currently, over ten years of CTD data are presented. In a few months, moored current meter data will also be made available.

Figure 1 - Rothera Time Series off western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula in the Marguerite Bay.
Figure 2 - A close up of the sampling sites in Marguerite Bay, Antarctica. ©

More about RaTS

The RaTS programme is funded by NERC. It involves the long-term monitoring of a nearshore marine environment in the Antarctic. Its aims are to

  • aid interpretation of the local ecology
  • test a series of hypotheses concerning interactions between surface and deep waters and the environmental forcing of the nearshore environment

Sampling began in January 1997, at a site (Site 1) approximately 4 km from the coast of the BAS station at Rothera. Weather and ice permitting, an upper open hydrographic cast and discrete water sample (at a depth of 15 m) are collected every fifth day during summer and every seventh day during winter.

If Site 1 is inaccessible then the secondary station, Site 2, is occupied; if neither are accessible then a water sample is collected near the wharf at Rothera (Site 3) but no hydrography cast is taken.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Argo float data products

BODC present an animation of the Forecasting Ocean Assimilation Model (FOAM) ¼° Antarctic output images for potential temperature, salinity and velocity.

Argo float data are assimilated into the FOAM model at the Met Office and provide a significant positive impact. Experiments have shown that the addition of these data reduce error by almost 30%, enabling more accurate forecasts.

Potential temperature from FOAM
Potential temperature from FOAM ©

Data supply chain

  • On surfacing, a float transmits the data collected via satellites to a receiving station.
  • Data are downloaded, quality controlled, encoded and delivered on a daily basis to the Global Telecommunications System (GTS), thus enabling them to be included in various meteorological and oceanographic models.
  • Data are assimilated in to the Forecasting Ocean Assimilation Model (FOAM) at the Met Office.
  • FOAM ¼° Antarctic model output images of potential temperature, salinity and velocity are supplied by the Met Office to BODC at monthly intervals.
  • An animation of the FOAM ¼° Antarctic model output images is presented.

Argo data

Argo, a worldwide programme involving over 30 countries, was established in 2000 to provide regular measurements from previously data-sparse areas throughout ice-free deep-ocean areas to improve our understanding of ocean systems. A global network of over 3000 active profiling floats was achieved in November 2007.

These specialised floats are able to descend and ascend through the water column by changing their buoyancy. As the float rises to the sea surface, it collects temperature, salinity and pressure measurements. The data are vital for monitoring ocean temperature - a key factor in climate change.

BODC act as the data centre for UK floats in the Argo programme, regardless of their location. We also act as the Regional Centre for the Southern Ocean in collaboration with the Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Seals aid climate modelling

Oceanographic data collected by seals as part of the ‘Marine Mammals Exploring the Oceans – Pole to Pole’ (MEOP) project are now quickly made available to climate modellers.

State of the art instrumentation (CTD tags) developed by the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) are attached to over 150 individual seals worldwide. These instruments record the temperature and salinity profile of the water column as the seals dive. On surfacing, the data are transmitted via satellites to SMRU.

A seal with a CTD tag attached ©

Through our liaison partnership, the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) have been working with SMRU to make these data available via the Global Telecommunications System (GTS). We are responsible for downloading, encoding and delivering data to the GTS on a daily basis. This allows the near real-time data collected by the seals to be incorporated into various meteorological and oceanographic models.

More about MEOP

MEOP, an international project, started in July 2007 as part of the fourth International Polar Year (IPY). It involves tagging deep-diving seal species to provide data on their location and behaviour, and information relating to the waters they inhabit.

The project's aims are two-fold
  • to gain a better understanding of the behaviour of seals
  • to collect unique and valuable oceanographic data from logistically difficult Polar areas
It builds on the previous projects, Southern Elephant Seals as Oceanographic Samplers (SEaOS) and the South Atlantic Variability Experiment (SAVEX) which sought to gain a better understanding of how elephant seals interact with their physical environment.

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Friday, 18 July 2008

UK Directory of Marine Observing Systems (UKDMOS) launched

The UK Directory of the Marine Observing Systems (UKDMOS), is a unique searchable database of information relating to UK marine monitoring activities. It provides a new internet-based tool for searching monitoring programmes. This will result in
  • interested parties gaining a better understanding of marine monitoring carried out in the UK.
  • a means to identify where sampling can be better coordinated between organisations, leading to a more efficient use of resources.
  • the means to assess if current monitoring is sufficient to meet the UK Marine Monitoring and Assessment Strategy (UKMMAS) contributory objectives

UKDMOS - a searchable database of information relating to UK marine monitoring activities ©

Monitoring activities may be searched for via Geographic Information System (GIS) maps and/or by organisation, parameter groups, frequency, start dates and other fields by use of the drop down menus within the search. The results are presented on maps along with further details, related links and contact information.

UKDMOS is available for the wider marine community and is expected that entries will be completed by October 2008.

Who is involved?

The technology used has relied heavily on the outputs from the EU funded SeaDataNet project. Database content submission is funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Scottish Government.

The Marine Environmental Data and Information Network (MEDIN) will be responsible for maintaining the entries. All content will be reviewed annually, or as required, through liaison with the person responsible for each monitoring programme. Members of the Marine Assessment and Reporting Group (MARG) will also be required to notify MEDIN of any new monitoring programmes within their organisation.

In the longer term it is hoped that a database content management system, currently being developed by the SeaDataNet project, will be available to allow organisations to update their entries directly.

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Thursday, 17 July 2008

GEOTRACES International Data Assembly Centre (GIDAC)

The British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) has been chosen to host the GEOTRACES International Data Assembly Centre, which is funded by the US National Science Foundation and the UK Natural Environment Research Council.

Understanding biogeochemical cycling of important trace elements and isotopes in the oceans
Understanding biogeochemical cycling of important trace elements and isotopes in the oceans ©

As part of this commitment, BODC will receive data from national oceanographic data offices and compile datasets for all GEOTRACES key parameters.

Edward Mawji has been appointed the BODC's coordinator. He will be working closely with the GEOTRACES scientists to establish common metadata and format protocols and will also be responsible for the quality control and secure archiving of the data that will be collected during cruises.

GEOTRACES is an international programme focused on understanding biogeochemical cycling of important trace elements and isotopes in the oceans. It is anticipated that the programme will run for approximately ten years and involve in excess of twenty research cruises, run by a variety of nations.

For more information go to the GEOTRACES web site or the BODC GEOTRACES announcement.

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Tuesday, 10 June 2008

BODC data management partnerships

To encourage a coordinated approach to marine data management, BODC has forged partnerships with six of the Natural Environment Research Council's centres. More information can be found under ‘Partners’, a new section introduced to our web site.

BODC Partnerships
BODC has forged partnerships with six centres ©

The six centres are the
  • British Antarctic Survey (BAS)
  • National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOCS)
  • Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML)
  • Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory (POL)
  • Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS)
  • Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU)
Each centre has a BODC staff member who acts as their Laboratory Liaison Officer (LLO). The LLOs make regular visits to ensure that data collected can be identified. This allows them to be managed properly and curated for long-term use by the public, which is a prerequisite to all NERC funded research.

The current NERC funded Oceans 2025 research programme involves all of NERC's marine centres and national facilities, and draws together the strengths of the individual organisations. Its aim is to improve understanding of ocean behaviour, response to climate change and subsequent impacts on society through cross-disciplinary partnership research.

These partnerships have become increasingly important under the Oceans 2025 framework. They also help NERC and its research centres to meet their legal obligations under the Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations.

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Monday, 2 June 2008

New web site for the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) launched

The General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) announces the launch of its new web site, designed and implemented by BODC.

General Bathymetric Chart of the Ocean web site ©

The web site provides information about GEBCO, including

More about GEBCO

GEBCO consists of an international group of experts who develop and make available a range of bathymetric data sets and data products. Their aim is to provide the most authoritative publicly-available bathymetry of the world's oceans.

The GEBCO chart series has its origins at the turn of the 20th Century with its initiation by Prince Albert I of Monaco in 1903. Today, GEBCO produces a range of digital data sets and products. These include

GEBCO operates under the auspices of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO.


Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Enabling mash-up data

BODC announces improved functionality for two of our data delivery facilities; they now include the ability to download a Keyhole Markup Language (KML) file of search results.

St. George's Pier, Menai Strait placemarks displayed on Google Earth©

KML files may be used with freely-available geospatial applications. These allow simultaneous display of diverse data from different sources to provide an integrated experience — known as mash-up data. This can reveal new information and knowledge that would otherwise be hidden.

The inclusion of a document server URL within our KML files allow you to view the full metadata report, making this an ideal data browsing tool. With speculation that Google may soon be announcing a visualisation of the world under the sea ('Google diving into 3D mapping of oceans'), the possibilities are even more exciting.

Where can I access KML files?

A download of your search and/or data request is now available via our 'All data series' and 'Current meter series' online request facilities.

All data series

The NODB index provides access to all data within our National Oceanographic Database (NODB). It includes physical, geophysical, chemical and biological measurements from the sea, land and air. Parameter categories include, for example

  • Acoustics
  • Bathymetry and topography
  • Currents — horizontal and vertical velocity, Lagrangian currents and water transport rates
  • Meteorology — radiosonde, met. stations and data buoys
  • Optical properties — pigments, turbidity, irradiance
  • Sea level
  • Water column temperature and salinity
  • Water column chemistry — nutrients, carbons, oxygen
  • Waves — statistics and spectra

Currently, the NODB index includes 51108 data series from 126 different organisations.

Current meter data series

The current meter index provides access to all current data within the NODB. It includes entries for

  • Moored Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCP)
  • Other moored current meters
  • Shipborne ADCP
  • Lowered ADCP

Currently, the current meter index includes 6269 data series from 63 different organisations.


Sunday, 9 March 2008

UK Severe Storm - download near real-time sea level data from BODC

Forecasters at the UK Met Office have issued severe weather warnings for much of the UK from Sunday to Tuesday. Winds of 70 m.p.h. are expected across southern and western parts of the British Isles with perhaps up to 80 m.p.h. in exposed areas as severe weather brings the risk of high waves and flooding.

The Environment Agency has issued a severe flood warning for the whole of the Devon and Cornwall coast amid storm warnings for south and west Britain.

Near real-time sea level data from the UK Tide Gauge Network is available for download from the British Oceanographic Data Centre(BODC).

Stormy pier
High waves and flooding forecast ©

The UK National Tide Gauge Network of 45 tide gauges was set up as a result of severe flooding along the east coast of England in 1953 and is now owned and funded by the Environment Agency.

The Tide Gauge Network forms part of the National Tidal & Sea Level Facility (NTSLF). NTSLF is hosted by the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory (POL) and BODC is responsible for the management of the tide gauge data and their access via the web.

The NTSLF was established in 2002 to reflect the importance of national sea level monitoring to the public and government, as well as to the academic community. Quality controlled processed data are available for download — free of charge.


Friday, 7 March 2008

International Inventory of Moored Current Meters

The British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) announces the launch of the improved international inventory of moored current meters. This online search facility has undergone a major redevelopment resulting in increased user functionality.

Its entries have been sourced from more than 20 international organisations & committees responsible for data dissemination and provides contact information should you wish to access the data.

The distribution of entries within the international inventory of moored current meters
The distribution of entries within the international inventory of moored current meters ©

Each search provides the means to download a comma-separated file of metadata. For entries supplied by BODC, the application provides a direct link to our online data request facility, which eliminates the need for the user to repeat their search to request our data holdings.

BODC maintain the inventory as part of our responsibilities as the UK's National Oceanographic Data Centre within the framework of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC). Currently, the inventory comprises over 32,000 records relating to current meter deployments by more than 140 organisations. Not all deployments will have returned data and usage restrictions may vary.

Search capabilities

You may opt to use a simple or advanced query form. Both forms allow you to build a query from a number of categories, each of which is initially set to a broad default value that you can make narrower. The results of your search are presented in tables and on a interactive map.

The simple search allows you to search by

  • geographic area
  • deployment date
  • originator's country and organisation

The advanced search provides additional options, namely

  • deployment duration
  • instrument
  • parameters measured
  • water depth
  • instrument depth

You may also opt to include/exclude those entries with known data restrictions and deployments where it is known that the instrument malfunctioned.

BODC also maintains the UK inventory of moored current meter data.


Tuesday, 4 March 2008

CARBON-OPS web site launched

The British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) announces the launch of a web site for the CARBON-OPS project — an operational air-sea carbon flux observation capability for the UK.

The web site provides access to ship-based measurements of pCO2 and ancillary surface underway and meteorological data in near real-time. The data are received daily via satellite from five UK research vessels.

CARBON-OPS knowledge transfer 'supply chain'
Knowledge transfer 'supply chain' ©

Spatial display of cruise tracks (and measurements) and plots of data are available online. Project participants may also access a near real-time data download facility. Delayed mode (fully quality controlled) data and output from computer models will also be made available in the future.

More about CARBON-OPS

CARBON-OPS is a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded Knowledge Transfer initiative (2007-2009), which aims to demonstrate a 'supply chain' for automated measurement of the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) in the surface of the ocean, through data processing and archiving, to supplying end-users for research and policy development.

Carbon monitoring is required by Governments and scientists to support global climate change predictions and to provide indicators of CO2 and related variables, such as pH, for the marine environment.

The data collected by CARBON-OPS will be used by the UK Met Office and other end-users for testing predictions from operational ocean models. The models will then be used to assist the UK Government with climate and environmental policy decisions by providing indicator products related to changes in ocean CO2 uptake, ocean acidity, and related impacts on global climate and marine ecosystems.

It will also supplement UK data collection efforts by Voluntary Observing Ships (VOS) in the frame of European projects such as CARBOOCEAN.


Friday, 29 February 2008

Oceanology International 2008

BODC will be participating in the forthcoming Oceanology International event (Oi08). This takes place from 11-13 March 2008 at ExCeL London, the international exhibition and conference centre in London’s Docklands.

BODC stand at Oceanology International 2006
BODC stand at OI 2006 ©

Oceanology International is the world’s largest meeting place for the marine science and ocean technology community. Exhibits will include the latest innovations from a huge selection of marine technology suppliers, and the event will also include a conference, visiting vessels and live demonstrations.

BODC will have its own stand (number 1006), in the "UK Marine Research" grouping. We will focus on

  • Data discovery
  • Real-time data display
  • Data delivery via the web

Come and visit us and get a free lollipop!

Download a floorplan of the stands at Oi08 Download a floorplan of the stands at Oi08 (1066 KB)


BODC maintains Investors in People (IIP) standard

BODC first achieved the Investors in People (IIP) standard in March 2002 and we are delighted to announce that we have just passed a post recognition review.

BODC - Investor in People
BODC is an "Investor in People" ©

IIP is a national quality standard which defines a level of good practice for improving an organisation's performance through its people.

Our staff are our most important asset and we are dedicated to ensuring that they have the right knowledge, skills and motivation to work efficiently.

The IIP assessor reported that BODC's key strengths include

  • Continued organisational planning — including consultation and input from employees
  • Effective management support at all levels across the organisation
  • Planned training and development activities
  • Equal opportunities to contribute ideas
  • Good communication activities
  • A good team environment with staff feeling valued and appreciated for their efforts

There were a number of development points and an internal team has been formed to take these forward. IIP is a continuous process and we are likely to be reviewed again in 2011.


Wednesday, 13 February 2008

NERC Data Discovery Service - easy access to environmental data

The NERC Data Discovery Service, a new data portal, provides easy access to environmental data.

Earth has no boundaries between environmental data ©

Data are fundamental to the understanding of the processes that control our natural environment. They help provide answers to both local questions (such as the likelihood of coastal flooding) and planetary wide issues (such as the prediction of the impact of global warming). The better we can predict these events, the better we can protect ourselves into the future.

The data collected by Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) provide a unique and irreplaceable record. Measurements have been gathered over decades and historical records provide a valuable resource to support research, survey and monitoring activities. These are used by academia, government, the public sector, and industry. NERC’s network of data centres are responsible for long-term curation of data and providing access to their holdings.

Accessing NERC data

The NERC Data Discovery Service allows users to find data resources held within the NERC DataGrid (NDG) catalogue. The catalogue makes it easier to find data as it connects records held in managed archives. It is populated with 'discovery' metadata (information about data sets), harvested on a regular basis from the NERC Data Centres and other providers, both UK and worldwide.

It includes entries for

  • Marine sciences
  • Atmospheric sciences
  • Earth sciences
  • Earth observation sciences
  • Polar sciences
  • Terrestrial and freshwater sciences
  • Hydrology

You may search for entries by entering terms as free text and/or restricting temporal and spatial coverage. The Service employs the NDG vocabulary server to provide a semantic search. This allows you to opt to maximise your returns by selecting an alternative, related search term.

This is the first step toward an integrated data delivery system. Future enhancements may eventually enable users to compare and manipulate data from all sources.


Wednesday, 6 February 2008

RAPID-WATCH data management at the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC)

NERC is to provide continued support for the research programme that provides a detection system for climate changes in the Atlantic Ocean. A new programme, RAPID-WATCH, will build on the work of the Rapid Climate Change (RAPID) project, so that observations in the Atlantic will continue until 2014. This will result in a valuable ten year data set of direct measurements.

Schematic of the North Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation ©

BODC and the British Atmospheric Data Centre (BADC) have provided data management services during the lifetime of the RAPID programme. This will continue under RAPID-WATCH.

The aims of RAPID were to investigate and understand the causes of rapid climate change, with a main (but not exclusive) focus on the role of the Atlantic Ocean thermohaline circulation. A principle objective was the development of a monitoring system that would continuously observe the strength and structure of the Atlantic Ocean's Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC).

Early results from the RAPID MOC monitoring array have demonstrated that continuous monitoring can accurately measure the changes in the MOC on time scales of days to years. RAPID-WATCH aims to deliver a decade-long time series of the strength and structure of the MOC. These observations, together with other research and data will be used to discover and understand changes in the Atlantic MOC. This will allow an improved assessment of the risk of rapid climate change.

What is MOC?

There is a northward transport of heat throughout the Atlantic Ocean reaching a maximum around 24.5°N. This heat transport is a balance of the northward flux of a warm Gulf Stream and a southward flux of cooler thermocline and cold North Atlantic deep water. This is known as the Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC).

Warming by the MOC means that northwest Europe enjoys a mild climate for its latitude. However, climate models and paleoclimate records have indicated that an abrupt rearrangement of the Atlantic Circulation may cause a 5-10 °C cooling of European climate.


  • Rapid Climate Change (RAPID) data management at BODC
  • Rapid Climate Change Meridional Overturning Circulation (RAPID-MOC) real-time data.