Marine Data News Issue 36
September 2017
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In this issue of Marine Data News...

Temperature Observations From Seals


The seas around the UK are extremely data-sparse in terms of in-situ ocean profile measurements. This is a problem for the Met Office's North West Shelf ocean forecasting model, as there are almost no profiles available in real time to help constrain the model's 3D structure.

Biologists at Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU, University of St Andrews) have been studying the behaviour of grey and harbour seals (Halichoerus grypus, Phoca vitulina) around the UK shores for many years using tags and tracking devices. SMRU biologists have previously shared the delayed-mode data with the Met Office, allowing its use for validation of historic model outputs, but the data has never been available in real-time where it can be assimilated into the model and used to validate operational predictions.

The Met Office’s Marine Observations has worked with SMRU and the British Oceanographic Data Centre for some time to obtain access to real-time ocean temperature and salinity data from sensors borne by elephant seals. Until now, the main region sampled has been the Southern Ocean and assimilation of the temperature data has been shown to give a significant improvement in the model predictions (Carse et al., 2015).

Grey seal carrying a pressure temperature tag. The long thin antenna is for the Argos PTT, the short one is for GSM (mobile phone). [Photo: Kimberley Bennett]
This summer, as a pilot study, the Met Office funded an extension to an existing SMRU project, supported by the Natural Environment Research Council and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. 'Argos' transmitters have been added to 20 tags, enabling data to be sent from seal to shore in real time. SMRU's usual UK seal tags transmit temperature, pressure (depth) and position data via the GSM network, meaning that data is not available in real time unless the animal is within mobile phone range of shore.

The seals often remain at sea for more than two weeks on foraging trips beyond GSM coverage so their data could not be transmitted, but this is possible using Argos communications which enable the data to be received within 48 hours of being measured as required by the forecast model’s data assimilation schemes.
Seal tracks up to 5th July 2017. [image: SMRU]

Expert animal handlers from SMRU attached tags to grey seals in four different regions around the UK during June. We expect to receive up to 6 temperature profiles per day in near real time from each seal as they forage in the North Sea, Irish Sea and around the edge of the North West shelf. The tags are expected to keep working until early 2018.

This UK seals dataset is filling in some of the observation gaps in the North West Shelf model's domain and is expected to be extremely valuable for the Met Office’s short-range ocean forecasts. The data are now being assimilated into the Met Office’s Global Ocean and the North West Shelf 7-day forecasting systems operationally, and so are having an impact on products sent to various users, including through the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service (CMEMS). The temperature profile data are also shared with National Meteorological Services worldwide, via the WMO’s Global Telecommunications System.

If the temperature profiles are shown to be of benefit to the ocean forecasts, it is hoped that we will continue to work in partnership with SMRU to obtain oceanographic data from UK seals. Other future work could include working with SMRU to further upgrade seal tags to carry conductivity sensors (to measure salinity profiles in addition to temperature).


Carse, F., Martin, M. J., Sellar, A. and Blockley, E. W. (2015), Impact of assimilating temperature and salinity measurements by animal-borne sensors on FOAM ocean model fields. Q.J.R. Meteorol. Soc., 141: 2934–2943. doi:10.1002/qj.2613


The Interreg funded “COMPASS” (Collaborative Oceanography and Monitoring for Protected Areas and SpecieS) project launched this summer, to deliver the first coherent network of monitoring buoys across the regional seas of the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and West Scotland. This collaborative project has been jointly developed by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, the Marine Institute, Inland Fisheries Ireland, Marine Scotland Science and the Scottish Association for Marine Science. 

The project will integrate some of the longest continuously maintained oceanographic monitoring stations in Europe (e.g. Tiree mooring & Western Irish Sea) with new monitoring infrastructure in a network equipped with oceanographic sensors, passive acoustic recorders and advanced fish tracking technology. This exciting and innovative project will enhance the cross-border capacity for effective monitoring and management of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The project partnership connects the regions core marine research institutions and government agencies, who will collaboratively develop three themes;

 1)  Scientifically designed monitoring programmes delivering baseline oceanographic and species data for the management of MPAs and key protected species.

 2) Co-developed data management infrastructures to ensure data quality, accessibility and flow between the regional institutions and international initiatives.

 3)  Interfaced operational models will support assessments of the connectivity of MPAs in the region.

 In order to enhance the cross-border capacity for monitoring and managing Marine Protected Areas, an interoperable data system will be specified for implementation at the key project partner organisations. Web services will be used to create a federated access portal to data created by the project, which will also be made available to MEDIN and other relevant data bodies. These data will include metocean observations from moored buoys; passive acoustic monitoring; model outputs; and glider missions. Improved access to the raw data collected and created by the project will allow for improved assessments for the protection of key species and habitats, grow our understanding of the regional marine systems, and support the blue economy and EU Atlantic Strategy.

This project has been supported by the EU INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB)

A new phase for the EMODnet Seabed Habitats Project

The EMODnet Seabed Habitats project entered a new phase in May when the twelve European partners led by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee met for the kick off meeting in Cambridge to discuss plans for the next two years.
EMODnet Seabed Habitats is part of the wider European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) initiative that brings together over 150 organisations assembling and making available marine data, metadata & products. The EMODnet Seabed Habitats consortium manages and populates one of the 7 EMODnet thematic portals, the Seabed Habitats portal. The portal is designed to be the one-shop-stop for habitat data in Europe providing access, free of charge, to seabed habitat information from all over Europe, such as habitats maps from survey, point records of habitats and the OSPAR Threatened and/or Declining Habitats dataset. In the UK the coverage of habitat maps from survey is one of the best with over 250 maps displayed and downloadable from the portal.
Coverage of EUNIS Habitat maps from survey in UK waters available from the EMODnet Seabed Habitats portal interactive map
The EMODnet Seabed Habitats consortium is also responsible for the creation of a pan-European broad-scale map of physical habitats, known as EUSeaMap, which is classified to both the EUNIS classification and the new MSFD Benthic Broad Habitat Types (as defined in the Commission Decision 17 May 2017 (link is external)). The consortium has recently published a technical report describing the method behind the broad-scale maps and their confidence assessment.
The EMODnet Seabed Habitats interactive map displaying the MSDF Benthic Broad Habitat Types map
During Phase 3 (2017 - 2020), the portal is being developed, together with the other EMODnet sub-portals, towards an operational service with full coverage of all European sea-basins, a wider selection of datasets and higher resolution data products.

 A novelty for this phase is the publication on the portal of a more extensive pan-European collection of habitat point data and modelled habitat maps of single habitats (for example kelp distribution models). Sharing your data via EMODnet has many benefits. If you have habitat data that can be shared on the portal, find out more about how you can contribute your data.
UN-GGIM 7th Assembly in New York

The United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) held its 7th Session in New York on 2-4 August with over 400 delegates and observers attending. UN-GGIM overwhelmingly endorsed the creation of a Global Working Group on Marine Geospatial Information in order to better meet three of its 2030 Sustainable Development Goals; SDG6 - Clean Water and Sanitation, SDG9 -Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure and SDG16 - Life Below Water.

[Image: John Pepper, Oceanwise]

The proposal was tabled by the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Coastal Surveys (OCS) supported by the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO). In its report to the UN Secretariat, NOAA addressed substantive issues on the marine environment needing attention to strengthen global geospatial information management in the marine space. The outcome will assist Member States to develop national policy, strategic priorities, decision making as well as measure and monitor global development outcomes in the world's oceans and seas.


The Marine Working Group will  focus, for example, on the development of a Global Geodetic Reference Frame, and Fundamental Data themes such as elevation (water depth) which will enable coherent land-sea data interoperability and a single  'skin of the earth'. The Working Group will engage with subject matter experts including the IHO and the UN-GGIM Private Sector Network, of which OceanWise is a member, to achieve its goals.
Oceanology International - A call for papers! 
This new one-day Ocean Information & Communications Technology Conference, is part of the wider Oceanology International 2018 Exhibition & Conference, 13-15 March in London.
Technologists, scientists and users of ocean data are invited to submit abstracts for presentation on the connected or interoperable technologies supporting the transmission of data to and from the marine environment, the infrastructure, tools and techniques required for the management and analysis of data.
Content will be shaped by co-chairs: Nick Lambert - Maritime Domain Expert at the Satellite Applications Catapult; Dr Clare Postlethwaite - Coordinator of the Marine Environmental Data and Information Network (MEDIN) & Dr Helen Wells - Business Group Leader of Meteorology and Science at the Met Office.
Submit an abstract for presentation by September 15th, to gain exposure and share your expertise with OI’s 7,500  international marine science and ocean technology professionals.
Other OI18 technical tracks accepting submissions include:
- Ocean Observation & Sensors
- Unmanned Vehicles & Vessels
- Delivering Information & Data Needs for Coastal Engineering
- Our end user sector sessions on: Offshore Aquaculture, Marine Renewables and Oil & Gas
Visit the OI website for full list of 11 tracks and submittal guidelines:  
The three day, free to attend, Oceanology International conference programme and world class exhibition will help organisations meet buyers from the key market regions and sectors, while helping you improve your strategies for measuring, developing, protecting and operating the world's oceans.

MEDIN Helpdesk

Metadata (information about data) is vital to allow users to find and re-use data. In order to allow access to metadata online, the metadata must be in a computer readable format. MEDIN understands that there are many people in the marine community who would prefer to avoid metadata and circumvent the technical issues associated with creating machine-readable metadata and would rather spend their time using and re-using data to solve problems. To help those with an aversion to metadata, MEDIN established a helpdesk to provide advice and support for anyone creating their own metadata.

The remit of the MEDIN helpdesk has subsequently expanded and it now provides additional services such as acting as a central point of contact for users wanting to archive data in MEDIN Data Archive Centres. Members of the UK marine community with data to archive can complete the Data Deposit Form and return it to the MEDIN helpdesk.

The MEDIN helpdesk

    • Help the marine community create metadata
    • Advise users on using MEDIN’s metadata creation tools
    • Solve users’ technical metadata problems
    • Advise on MEDIN data guidelines
    • Central contact for those wanting to archive data at a MEDIN Data Archive Centre


The MEDIN helpdesk can be contacted

By phone: 01752 426237

Or by email:

Depositing Data with MEDIN

MEDIN provides secure, long-term storage of and access to marine data via its network of accredited Data Archive Centres (DACs). Marine data encompasses a wide range of data types and usages and MEDIN is committed to providing as comprehensive a coverage as possible. Currently, MEDIN DACs cover the following types of data: bathymetry, oceanography, geology and geophysics, species and habitats, fisheries, historic environment and meteorology.

The network of MEDIN DACs has taken steps to establish a more coordinated approach to archiving complex, multidisciplinary datasets, with data starting to flow from one DAC to another where required. Based on this experience, MEDIN has implemented a generic approach, comprising a central enquiry point, and generic online and downloadable guidance for data submission to the DAC network.

To submit data to one Data Archive Centre (DAC), complete the Data Deposit Form  and return it to the relevant DAC. 

For multidisciplinary data to be archived at multiple DAC's, complete the Data Deposit Form and return it to the MEDIN helpdesk.
Please send all bathymetric data directly to the UK Hydrographic Office.


Available for Download

EMODnet Stakeholder Conference & Sea-basin Workshops Report is now available for download here
The six Sea-basin Checkpoints showcased the results of their work to date to evaluate whether the marine data currently available at the level of the sea basins is fit for purpose.

This was assessed through a series of surrogate user challenges or stress-tests. The headline findings, presented at the conference and in the report, are underpinned by comprehensive assessments and should be considered in the context of the full and detailed Data Adequacy Reports.


Good Practice Guide for sharing Industry Data

EMODnet partners have recently published a  ‘good practice guide’ to promote the sharing and re-use of marine data by business. The aim of these guidelines are to formulate solutions to overcome the barriers to increased use and provision of marine data by and from industry.

EMODnet has collaborated with Smartbay, Seascape and other organisations to discuss the challenges data-sharing initiatives face and recommends a range of steps to take such as: involving industry at an early stage, communicating effectively and creatively with the target audience  and ensuring all user interfaces are developed with the user in mind.
Follow this link to read more.

The Crown Estate's Marine Antiquities Scheme

During the first year of the Marine Antiquities Scheme, more than 100 archaeological and historical marine finds have been submitted. Historical finds are being recorded to protect and improve our knowledge of English and Welsh underwater heritage.

To read the full article, click here.


Marine & Coastal Civil Engineering exhibition

The Marine & Coastal Civil Engineering Expo (M&CCE Expo) is the UK’s largest exhibition and conference dedicated to showcasing the latest equipment and solutions for marine, coastal and other challenging civil engineering projects with unique landscape features. It takes place on the 27th & 28th of September at ExCeL, and tickets are free from the M&CCE Expo website.

The show features over 200 specialist suppliers, 100 hours of CPD-accredited seminars, interactive debates, live demonstrations, one-to-one advice from industry experts, unparalleled networking opportunities, and much more.

Guests can also filter between the neighbouring Flood Expo 2017 and the Contamination Expo Series 2017 next door.

To book your FREE ticket and take advantage of everything the M&CCE Expo has to offer, register on the M&CCE Expo website.

If you're interested in exhibiting at this year's event, contact Gary Hall on +44 (0) 0117 929 6087 or email

MEDIN Workshops

Free one day workshop on the use of the MEDIN Data Guidelines and MEDIN Discovery Metadata Standard

Upcoming workshops:

15 November 2017 - The Lyell Centre, BGS Edinburgh
16 November 2017 - The Lyell Centre, BGS Edinburgh

For full information on the workshops, and to register, click here.
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