Thursday, 17 December 2009

New GEBCO bathymetric grids released

Announcing new releases

  • A new release of the GEBCO_08 Grid is now available to download — it includes version 2.23 of the International Bathymetric Chart of the Arctic Ocean (IBCAO).
  • A 'Source Identifier' Grid to accompany the GEBCO_08 Grid is also available. This describes the GEBCO_08 Grid — identifying which grid cells are based on bathymetric soundings or grids and which contain predicted depth values.

The GEBCO_08 Grid overlain by the 'Source Identifier' Grid ©

The General Bathymetric Chart of the Ocean (GEBCO) community aims to provide the most authoritative, publicly-available bathymetry for the world's oceans. BODC maintain and distribute gridded bathymetric data sets on behalf of the GEBCO community. These are
  • The GEBCO One Minute Grid — a global one arc-minute grid, largely based on the most recent set of bathymetric contours contained within the GEBCO Digital Atlas. Released in 2003 and updated in 2008.
  • The GEBCO_08 Grid — a 30 arc-second interval global terrain model, largely generated by combining quality-controlled ship depth soundings with predicted depths between the sounding points guided by satellite-derived gravity data. Released in January 2009.
You may opt to download data for a user-defined area or the complete global file(s).

Friday, 9 October 2009

'Online shopping' for data

In line with our goal to provide direct access and online delivery to all data holdings, BODC announces a major enhancement to our data request service.

The new release of the 'All data series' facility now provides online delivery for data (~ 60,000 series) held in the National Oceanographic Database (NODB). This encompasses physical, geophysical, chemical and biological measurements.

'Shopping' for data ©

The enhancements enable

  • 'anonymous' searching — search prior to registration or log in.
  • 'online shopping' — add data to a basket and check out your request.
  • extra choice in data file formats.
  • secure access control — authentication and authorisation.
  • auto-delivery of approximately 40,000 data series to academic users, with around 12,500 accessible to everyone.
  • auto-delivery of restricted data series to users with the correct credentials.
  • user request tracking and an auto-download facility.

This opens the way to the secure delivery of BODC's data holdings via various external data portals. A demonstration of the new functionality is available for you to view.

We are committed to improving our data services and your experience of our web site. Work is continuing to bring this functionality to our other data facilities and to enable online access to additional data.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Introducing single log in

As part of our continuing commitment to improve our data services and your experience on our web site, we have upgraded our data applications to introduce a single log in.

A single log in the sand! ©

How does this work?

Once you have logged in you will be free to navigate around the BODC web site, entering all data delivery areas without the need to log in again. This can be achieved by either

  1. Using the link provided on the top right-hand side of our web pages
  2. Using the link presented at each of the data delivery applications

Some restricted areas require that you have additional permissions; should you encounter one of these you will be informed whether your account satisfies the entrance requirements.

After a period of inactivity, to keep your account secure, your session will time out and access will be closed. You can also opt to close your session at any time, using the log out link presented at the top right-hand side of our web pages.

This completes a major step towards our aim of making all of our data holdings accessible online.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Iceland to Scotland: crossing the Nordic Seas gateway

Two BODC data scientists (Mark Hebden and Julia Calderwood) participated on both legs of the RRS Discovery 340 cruise in the North East Atlantic Ocean.

Mark compiling quality metadata ©

On the first leg, between Iceland and Scotland, they joined colleagues from the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) and the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOCS) to monitor the Atlantic waters flowing north towards the Arctic Ocean. This work is performed annually under the Extended Ellett Line project; an ocean monitoring initiative that dates back to 1975.

The second leg of the cruise, around Western Scotland, examined how stratification and turbulent mixing are influenced by shelf topography, and the consequences for pelagic and benthic biogeochemical processes. This study was performed by scientists at the Scottish Association for Marine Science, with Oceans 2025 funding.

Mark and Julia were onboard RRS Discovery to assist with the sampling programmes, and to compile quality metadata records.

For more information about life onboard this research cruise, see the RRS Discovery 340 cruise blog.

Monday, 13 July 2009

A new look for!

The Marine Environmental Data and Information Network (MEDIN) web site ( has been relaunched with a new look and added features.
The new look MEDIN ( web site ©

What is MEDIN

MEDIN is a partnership of UK organisations, both public and private sector, committed to improving access to marine data. It sits alongside its sibling working group the Underwater Sound Forum (USF) and both groups report directly to the Marine Science Coordination Committee (MSCC).

MEDIN are establishing a network of marine data archive centres (DACs) to provide secure long-term storage for marine data. This network will provide the capability to upload and retrieve data. The OceanNET web site provides details on how, and to whom, data should be submitted.

For ease of discovery and use of data, standards are essential and MEDIN has an agreed process, involving key stakeholders, to approve standards for use by MEDIN partners. The OceanNET web site provides access to these agreed standards, along with MEDIN meeting details, articles and a range of publications for download or hardcopy request.

Users can subscribe to MEDIN’s e-newsletter, Marine Data News, as well as downloading Adobe PDF documents of past issues.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

BODC upgrades network infrastructure

The British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) has recently upgraded its network infrastructure to cope with the demand on services. This investment will allow us to maintain our high standards in web data delivery, cater for the 30% year on year increase of registered web users and help us achieve our aim of making all of our data holdings accessible via the web.

Our new load balancer with associated cabling ©

Our recent network upgrade provides

  • dual fibre-based Gigabit connections to the internet for maximum resilience and redundancy for our web sites and services
  • load balancing between our web servers with Gigabit connections to the internet and back office application servers, giving a tenfold increase in available bandwidth
  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL/https) connections to protect your personal data as it traverses the web
  • protection from Denial of Service (DoS) attacks

Our Information Technology (IT) infrastructure (servers and networks) are maintained by our local IT support group (POL Computing). In turn, POL Computing are supported by NERC's IT Solutions & Services (iTSS) who provide specialised expertise.

We will continue to work closely with these groups to maintain and develop the IT infrastructure we depend on as part of our commitment to improving access to our data holdings and web services.

Monday, 11 May 2009

GDA Software Interface version 2.12 released

Version 2.12 of GEBCO Digital Atlas (GDA) software interface has been released. This supersedes previous versions and is available for download by existing GDA users, along with instructions on how to install and use the software.

The GDA is a reference source for the bathymetry of the world's oceans. It contains a global set of digital bathymetric contours, coastlines and gridded bathymetric data sets. It is accompanied by a software interface, which allows the user to display, query and export data from the various GDA data sets.

Displaying bathymetry data through the GDA software interface. ©

Version 2.12 of the software interface includes the following additional features

  • view and access data from both GEBCO gridded bathymetric data sets, the GEBCO One Minute Grid and GEBCO_08 Grid
  • export the gridded data in an ASCII format suitable for conversion to an ESRI raster file using ESRI data conversion software

The GDA is currently distributed on CDROM and does not include the GEBCO_08 Grid. An updated DVD product is planned for release shortly to include both gridded data sets.

Friday, 24 April 2009

BODC celebrates 40 years

This month marks BODC's 40th birthday. Our history began in April 1969 when the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) created the British Oceanographic Data Service (BODS), located at the National Institute of Oceanography, Wormley, Surrey.

Over last the 40 years we have witnessed many changes; these include our name, location and organisational structure, the evolving nature of data collected by the science of oceanography and the technology we depend on.

However, our fundamental role as a national facility for preserving and distributing marine data has remained constant.

BODC celebrates 40 years. ©

The changes - a brief timeline
  • April 1969 — The British Oceanographic Data Service (BODS) created — primarily to handle hydrographic data.
  • 1975 — BODS transfers to Bidston Observatory, Wirral as part of the newly formed Institute of Oceanographic Sciences. The National Oceanographic DataBank (NODB) is developed, a batch-based COnference on DAta SYstems Languages (CODASYL) system running on a Honeywell computer, located at their offices in Acton, London. Our Parameter Dictionary is born.
  • 1976 — BODS is the focus of a high-level review of offshore industry requirements. As a result, BODS becomes the data banking section of the Marine Information and Advisory Service (MIAS). MIAS-DBS is funded by NERC and the Department of Energy and Industry. Its primary activity is to manage data collected by the UK Offshore Operators Association's (UKOOA) network of weather ships, oil rigs and large-scale data buoys.
  • 1977 — A Honeywell 66/20 mainframe computer is installed at Bidston Observatory.
  • 1979 — MIAS becomes involved in international initiatives designed to standardise data curation.
  • 1980 — The Honeywell computer is upgraded to become a model 66 type 60B, with 512KB of memory, 1.3MB of disk storage and six magnetic tape drives.
  • 1982 — The in-house transfer system is developed; data inventories are accessible via Fortran programs and data are quality assured using paper or microfiche plots.
  • 1985 — We spend £5000, the equivalent of six months' Data Scientist salary at that time, to purchase our first personal computer.
  • 1987 — The arrival of the IBM 4381 computer (costing £400,000 — with 7.5GB of disk storage) and the Oracle Relational Database Management System (RDBMS). We begin to develop in-house visualisation software on two Silicon Graphics workstations (costing £40,000 apiece) to aid quality assurance. Data are still archived onto magnetic tapes.
  • April 1989 — the MIAS-DBS is restructured and renamed BODC.
  • 1989 — An 'end to end' approach, working alongside marine scientists during the lifetime of projects to ensure good data management practices, is developed during the first NERC Community Research Project, the North Sea Project. The NODB samples schema is designed to store discrete samples, such as biological and chemical data from water bottle rosette systems. Our involvement in international project data management begins. An extra 5GB of disk storage is purchased for the IBM 4281 computer.
  • 1990 — Work begins at BODC to develop and maintain the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) Digital Atlas on behalf of the GEBCO community. Our Parameter Dictionary has expanded to contain around 5,000 parameters.
  • 1992 — BODC adopt a UNIX system and data are archived in a Mass Store, a hierarchical storage system. BODC make data available to the marine community via its first CDROM product.
  • 1993 — We undertake quality assurance responsibilities for UK Tide Gauge Network (DATARING) data.
  • 1995 — Our first web presence.
  • 1996 — During the year BODC service 1,035 customer requests for data and information.
  • 2000 — The BODC web site is launched, providing online data catalogues and inventories of our data holdings. The additional functionality helps increase the number of annual requests to 4,644.
  • 2002 — BODC develops formal partnerships with NERC’s marine research centres to encourage good data management practices.
  • 2003 — Our Parameter Dictionary expands rapidly to almost 19,000 parameters.
  • 2004 — We move to our current location, the Joseph Proudman Building, located on the University of Liverpool campus.
  • 2005 — Our current web site is launched, providing expanded functionality.
  • 2006 — The BODC Parameter Dictionary becomes available online through the NERC DataGrid Vocabulary server. Our online data request facilities are updated to include GIS map search facilities.
  • 2007 — We complete an extensive modernisation of our visualisation and data handling software, enabling improved efficiency and portability, thereby enabling use by external users.
  • 2008 — As part our role serving the national and international marine community we host and maintain twelve data portals and web sites.
  • 2009 — Continual improvements to our web applications and functionality means that we now service ~100,000 requests for data and information per year. The next step is to provide an online 'shopping' facility allowing users to select data for auto-delivery from our entire data holdings.
Our continuing commitment

We are looking forward to meeting the challenging needs of marine data management in the future as data are precious; they are fundamental to the understanding of the processes that control our natural environment.

The data we hold helps provide answers to local questions or planet-wide issues, such as the prediction of the impact of global warming - something that not only affects us, but will also affect the quality of life of our children and grandchildren. The better we can predict these events, the better we can protect ourselves in the future.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

GEBCO Grid display software v2.11 released

Version 2.11 of the GEBCO Grid display software is now available to download, free of charge under licence, for use with the GEBCO gridded bathymetric data sets. This release supersedes version 2.0, published in February 2009, and includes the following enhancements.
  • An option to export data from the GEBCO gridded bathymetric data sets in an ASCII form suitable for conversion (using ESRI data conversion software) to a raster file for use with ESRI ArcGIS products.
  • The ability to work with a read-only version of the source data file — this has proved useful in some cases where the software is used over a network.
  • A bug that caused the export of the GEBCO One Minute Grid to fail if the southernmost latitude of the selected area equalled 90°S has now been fixed.

Displaying South Atlantic bathymetry within the software. ©

The GEBCO Grid display software provides the means for displaying and accessing the data in simple ASCII formats as well as netCDF from
  • the GEBCO One Minute Grid — a global one arc-minute grid
  • the GEBCO_08 Grid — a global 30 arc-second grid

It has been developed by BODC to run on a PC running Microsoft Windows 95 or later and is controlled by a series of drop-down menus and toolbar buttons. Please note that the software is designed for use with the complete, global data files.

Find out more about the software and how to access it under licence.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

GEBCO Grid display software

The GEBCO Grid display software is available to download, free of charge under license, for use with the GEBCO gridded bathymetric data sets. It provides the means for displaying and accessing the data from

  • the GEBCO One Minute Grid — a global one arc-minute grid
  • the GEBCO_08 Grid — a global 30 arc-second grid

Viewing GEBCO_08 using the GEBCO Grid display software.Viewing GEBCO_08 using the GEBCO Grid display software. ©

It has been developed by the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) to run on a PC running Microsoft Windows 95 or later and is controlled by a series of drop-down menus and toolbar buttons. Please note that the software is designed for use with the complete, global data files available for download from BODC.

Features of the GEBCO Grid display software include

  • Display GEBCO's gridded bathymetric data sets on your PC screen, colour coded for depth/elevation.
  • Export data in an ASCII format or netCDF.
  • Choice of five map projections for display — Equidistant Cylindrical, Mercator, Miller Cylindrical, Lambert Cylindrical Equal-Area and Polar Stereographic.
  • Import your own file(s) of data points to display in the map area.
  • Select your geographic area of interest either by chart number, by latitude and longitude limits, or by an on-screen zoom box.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Exploring the ocean floor with Google Earth

If you could peer beneath the ocean waves and glimpse the seafloor far below, you would see deep basins, vast mountains chains and long trenches. This is known as bathymetry.

Understanding bathymetry helps us understand the rest of the planet as this landscape helps steer ocean currents that in turn affect climate change. It also influences hazards facing coastal communities, such as approaching tsunamis.

The GEBCO_08 Grid and Google Earth ©

The General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) community has been working for many years to provide the most authoritative, publicly-available bathymetric data sets for the world’s oceans. The recently released GEBCO 30 arc-second bathymetric grid (GEBCO_08) has been used as a basis for the 3D model of the oceans within Google Earth 5.0, to allow us to view the underwater landscape.

The GEBCO_08 bathymetric grid has been developed using a combination of ship track soundings and satellite-derived gravity data.

The GEBCO_08 Grid and the GEBCO One Minute Grid are both available to download from the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC).

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

GEOTRACES International Data Assembly Centre

The British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) announces the launch of the GEOTRACES International Data Assembly Centre (GIDAC) web site. This will provide access to

* information on past and future GEOTRACES cruises
* general information regarding data
* information about the GEOTRACES programme

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

GEOTRACES is an international programme that aims to improve our understanding of biogeochemical cycles and large-scale distribution of trace elements and their isotopes in the marine environment. The global field programme will run for at least a decade and will involve cruises, run by a variety of nations, in all ocean basins.

Although still in its infancy, the GEOTRACES programme's aim is to compile a global dataset for all key GEOTRACES parameters. This dataset will eventually be available to the wider science community in accordance with the GEOTRACES data policy.

Edward Mawji has been appointed the BODC 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 data that will be collected during cruises.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

GEBCO_08 bathymetric grid released

BODC maintain and make available global bathymetric data sets on behalf of the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) community.

GEBCO have released a new global bathymetric grid with 30 arc-second spacing — the GEBCO_08 Grid. This is now available for download alongside the GEBCO One Minute Grid. You may opt to download complete netCDF grid file(s) or a user defined area.

The GEBCO_08 Grid - a global bathymetric grid with 30 arc-second spacing. ©

More about the GEBCO_08 Grid

The GEBCO_08 Grid was generated by combining quality-controlled ship depth soundings with interpolation between sounding points guided by satellite derived gravity data. It is a continuous terrain model for ocean and land with the land data largely derived from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM30) data set.

Although every effort has been made to reduce the number of errors in the data set, we expect that some grid artifacts will be found. It is currently a development product which will undergo periodic update. Should users identify grid artifacts we would be grateful for feedback.