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Metadata Report for BODC Series Reference Number 16063

Metadata Summary

Data Description

Data Category Currents -subsurface Eulerian
Instrument Type
Aanderaa RCM 4/5 Recording Current Meter  current meters
Instrument Mounting subsurface mooring
Originating Country United Kingdom
Originator -
Originating Organization Institute of Oceanographic Sciences Bidston Laboratory (now National Oceanography Centre, Liverpool)
Processing Status banked
Online delivery of data Download available - Ocean Data View (ODV) format
Project(s) -

Data Identifiers

Originator's Identifier 567/8
BODC Series Reference 16063

Time Co-ordinates(UT)

Start Time (yyyy-mm-dd hh:mm) 1977-10-17 18:53
End Time (yyyy-mm-dd hh:mm) 1977-11-25 15:53
Nominal Cycle Interval 900.0 seconds

Spatial Co-ordinates

Latitude 53.76330 N ( 53° 45.8' N )
Longitude 4.11830 W ( 4° 7.1' W )
Positional Uncertainty 0.1 to 0.5 n.miles
Minimum Sensor or Sampling Depth 20.0 m
Maximum Sensor or Sampling Depth 20.0 m
Minimum Sensor or Sampling Height 22.0 m
Maximum Sensor or Sampling Height 22.0 m
Sea Floor Depth 42.0 m
Sea Floor Depth Source -
Sensor or Sampling Distribution Fixed common depth - All sensors are grouped effectively at the same depth which is effectively fixed for the duration of the series
Sensor or Sampling Depth Datum Sea floor reference - Depth measured as a height above sea floor but converted into a depth relative to the sea surface according to the same datum as used for sea floor depth (applicable to instrument depths not bathymetric depths)
Sea Floor Depth Datum Chart reference - Depth extracted from available chart


BODC CODERankUnitsTitle
AADYAA011DaysDate (time from 00:00 01/01/1760 to 00:00 UT on day)
AAFDZZ011DaysTime (time between 00:00 UT and timestamp)
LCDAEL011Degrees TrueDirection (towards) of water current (Eulerian measurement) in the water body by in-situ current meter and correction to true North
LCSAEL011Centimetres per secondSpeed of water current (Eulerian measurement) in the water body by in-situ current meter
PPSAPR011MetresDepth below surface of the water body by semi-fixed in-situ pressure sensor and conversion to depth using unspecified algorithm
TEMPPR011Degrees CelsiusTemperature of the water body

Definition of Rank

  • Rank 1 is a one-dimensional parameter
  • Rank 2 is a two-dimensional parameter
  • Rank 0 is a one-dimensional parameter describing the second dimension of a two-dimensional parameter (e.g. bin depths for moored ADCP data)

Problem Reports

No Problem Report Found in the Database

Data Quality Report

I.O.S. (Bidston) data validation procedures revealed no obvious faults hence I.O.S. (Bidston) state good record.

Data Quality Report

Data Originator comments that there is a 3m increase in depth on 7 November shown on all pressure records. There is no corresponding spike in the current velocity data records.

Data Access Policy

Open Data supplied by Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)

You must always use the following attribution statement to acknowledge the source of the information: "Contains data supplied by Natural Environment Research Council."

Narrative Documents

Aanderaa Recording Current Meter Model 4/5

Manufacturer's specifications: Meter (recording unit: height 51cm, diameter 12.8cm, vane size 37x100cm; overall: length 137cm, height 75cm) is designed for depths down to 2000m (6000m RCM model 5). It incorporates a spindle which is shackled into the mooring line. The meter is attached to the spindle through a gimbal mounting which permits a maximum 27° deviation of the spindle from the vertical, the meter still remaining horizontal.

Meter comprises :-

  1. Savonius rotor magnetically coupled to an electronic counter - the number of revolutions during the sampling interval giving the average current speed over the interval - starting speed 2cm/s (users find 1.5 to 3cm/s), range 2.5 to 250cm/s, accuracy greater of 1cm/s or 2 per cent.

  2. Vane, which aligns instrument with current flow, has a balance weight ensuring static balance and tail fins to ensure dynamic balance in flows up to 250cm/s.

  3. Magnetic compass (needle is clamped to potentiometer ring at instant of sampling only) - direction recorded with 0.35° resolution, 5° accuracy (1.5° claimed by MAFF, Lowestoft) for speeds 5 to 100cm/s, 7.5° accuracy for remaining speeds within 2.5 to 200cm/s range, maximum compass tilt (i.e. maximum deviation of the meter from the horizontal at which the meter still registers correctly) is 12° in both pitch and roll axes.

  4. Quartz clock, accuracy better than 2sec/day within temperature range 0 to 20°C.

  5. Thermistor (temperature sensor), standard range -2.46 to 21.48°C (max on high range 36.04°C), accuracy 0.15°C, resolution 0.1 per cent of range, 63 per cent response time 12sec.

  6. Inductive cell conductivity sensor (optional), range 0 to 70mmho/cm standard resolution 0.1 per cent of range.

  7. Bourdon tube pressure sensor (optional) driving a potentiometer - range 0 to 100, 200, 500, 1000 or (RCM4 to 3000psi), (RCM5 to 5000, or 8000psi), lowest calibrated pressure 14.24psi, accuracy 1 per cent of range, resolution 0.1 per cent of range.

  8. Self balancing potentiometer which converts the output from each sensor into a 10 bit binary number for storage on magnetic tape.

  9. Associated electronics.

Sample duration equals nominal interval between data cycles pre-chosen as 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 60 or 180 minutes. Sample recording order: meter reference number, temperature, (conductivity, pressure if installed), current direction, speed.

Manufacturer's calibration formulae:

Meters (manufactured prior to October 1974) with analogue measurement of speed, i.e. the Savonius rotor drives a potentiometer via a magnetically coupled follower and gearbox (6000 : 1 gear ratio):

speed = 1.5 + 246 * (M/T) cm/s (1)

meters with digital measurement of speed i.e. utilizing an electronic reed switch to count the total number of rotor revolutions during the sampling interval:

speed = 1.5 + 42 * B * (M/T) cm/s (2)

all meters:
direction = 1.5 + 0.349N ° magnetic (3)

B is the number of rotor revolutions per count, M (bits) binary is the count over the sampling interval T (sec) and N (bits) binary is the direction reading.

Data collecting laboratories may calibrate their own meters and so not use the manufacturer's calibration equations.

BODC Current Meter Screening

BODC screen both the series header qualifying information and the parameter values in the data cycles themselves.

Header information is inspected for:

  • Irregularities such as unfeasible values
  • Inconsistencies between related information. For example:
    • Depths of meter and sea bed.
    • Times for mooring deployment and for start/end of data series.
    • Length of record or number of data cycles, the cycle interval, the clock error and the period over which accrued.
    • Parameters stated as measured and the parameters actually present in the data cycles.
  • Originator's comments on meter/mooring performance and data quality.

Documents are written by BODC highlighting irregularities which cannot be resolved.

Data cycles are inspected using time series plots of all parameters. Currents are additionally inspected using vector scatter plots and time series plots of North and East velocity components. These presentations undergo intrinsic and extrinsic screening to detect infeasible values within the data cycles themselves and inconsistencies as seen when comparing characteristics of adjacent data sets displaced with respect to depth, position or time. Values suspected of being of non- oceanographic origin may be tagged with the BODC flag denoting suspect value.

The following types of irregularity, each relying on visual detection in the time series plot, are amongst those which may be flagged as suspect:

  • Spurious data at the start or end of the record.
  • Obvious spikes occurring in periods free from meteorological disturbance.
  • A sequence of constant values in consecutive data cycles.

If a large percentage of the data is affected by irregularities, deemed abnormal, then instead of flagging the individual suspect values, a caution may be documented. Likewise documents will highlight irregularities seen in the current vector scatter plots such as incongruous centre holes, evidence of mooring 'knock-down', abnormal asymmetry in tidally dominated records or gaps as when a range of speeds or directions go unregistered due to meter malfunction.

The term 'knock-down' refers to the situation when the 'drag' exerted on a mooring at high current speeds may cause instruments to tilt beyond the angle at which they are intended to operate. At this point the efficiency of the current sensors to accurately record the flow is reduced.

Inconsistencies between the characteristics of the data set and those of its neighbours are sought, and where necessary, documented. This covers inconsistencies in the following:

  • Maximum and minimum values of parameters (spikes excluded).
  • The orientation and symmetry of the current vector scatter plot.
  • The direction of rotation of the current vectors.
  • The approximate amplitude and periodicity of the tidal currents.
  • The occurrence of meteorological events and, finally, for series for which no time check was possible, the phase.

This intrinsic and extrinsic screening of the parameter values seeks to confirm the qualifying information and the source laboratory's comments on the series. In screening and collating information, every care is taken to ensure that errors of BODC making are not introduced.

Data Processing Notes

Magnetic variation assumed 9° W.

Clock gained 2 seconds over 53 days 18 hours 06 minutes 58 seconds; no correction made.

IOS Bidston CMD Calibration, Processing and Validation Procedures


All meters were calibrated before their launch and after their recovery. The thermistors were calibrated over the range -2°C to 20°C in a water bath. Thermistors calibrated before April 1973 were calibrated in an environmental chamber. Prior to August 1973 a straight line was fitted to the results of each calibration. Between August 1973 and December 1977 a cubic polynomial was fitted to the calibration results. Post-1977 calibrations have a cubic polynomial fitted, calibrating for offset and slope only. The compasses were calibrated every 10 degrees from 0° to 360° and every degree through the dead space. The calibrations were performed outside the laboratory with the meters in a special jig. The results were used to create a table which contained the direction to the nearest degree corresponding to each meter reading.

The pressure sensors were calibrated over the range 0 to 13.5 bars above atmospheric pressure using a dead weight tester and a straight line was fitted to the results.

The rotors were not calibrated but the manufacturer's formula was used since experience has shown this to be sufficiently accurate. The meters were balanced in a tank of water to ensure that the meter would be level in the sea.

Data Processing and Validation

Pre-1978 data on magnetic tapes from the instruments were translated onto punched paper tape which was input to the Institute computer. Since Jan 1978 the data have undergone CAMAC translation on to magnetic tape. Errors in the data were discovered by noting either discontinuities in the records or consecutive readings with the same value, the most common errors being:

  1. A large change in direction between adjacent readings at times of reasonable speed (i.e. greater than 25cm/s).
  2. The rotor count going backwards (for early meters only when fitted with potentiometer rotor counter). Most meters are now fitted with electronic rotor counters.

Rotor count errors were corrected and the meter calibrations were then used to calculate the temperature, pressure and the north (true) and east components of velocity. Because the meter integrates the rotor count but records instantaneous directions some further averaging was necessary to derive a simultaneous value of speed and direction. Consider three adjacent readings of rotor count and direction at times t1, t2 and t3. The value for speed and direction at time t2 was derived by associating the speed given by the rotor count at t3 minus that at t1 with the instantaneous measurement of direction at time t2.

After the components of velocity had been calculated errors of type a), which were more common than those of type b), were corrected using a cubic spline routine on each velocity component (pre-1978 data). From Jan 1978 directions have been edited before the components were calculated. Timing errors were determined by comparing the number of samples recorded with the difference between the times of starting and stopping the meter. Since Jan 1978 most meters have been fitted with an elapsed time counter to aid identification of missing scans. The meters were started and stopped on board ship and had pre- and post-cruise checks carried out on them in the laboratory.

The results were displayed in five graphs. The diagrams were:

  1. A plot of the temperature, pressure and north and east components of velocity against time. The whole data series obtained is used as the input for this graph.
  2. Histograms of the speed and direction. Plots of the percentage of the data which lie within a certain interval of speed or direction.
  3. A scatter diagram of the north component of velocity against the east component. This diagram is particularly useful in revealing malfunctions in the meters compass or in the rig itself.
  4. Two progressive vector diagrams, one using the same data as (1), the other using the data filtered by applying a running average of 24 hours 50 minutes (i.e. 2 tidal cycles) to remove most of the tidal signal and hence show the residual movement more clearly.


  1. The data processing details apply regardless of the type of meter used.
  2. For IOS Bidston current meter data, the format of the originator's reference when quoted by BODC will be Station name and/or number / meter number / immersion number.

IOS Bidston CMD Standard Procedures Summary


The manufacturer's calibration formula was used for speed. Calibrations for direction, temperature and pressure were carried out at IOS Bidston before and after use.

Mooring System

U-shaped mooring, i.e. pellet float to pellet line to sub- surface buoy to meter mooring line to anchor weight to ground line to anchor weight to marker buoy wire to surface marker buoy. This is a standard shelf sea rig, which reduces the effects of surface waves on the meter. The mooring is deployed in the order given and recovered in reverse order. Normally lengths of main wires are: surface buoy line 1.5D and ground line 3D, where D is the depth of water. The sub-surface buoy is normally 5m above the top meter. Current meters are attached to a taut line, Plessey meters via an A-frame clamped onto the line and Aanderaa meters by a spindle which is spliced into the mooring wire. Some spindles have been designed at IOS Bidston.

Data Sampling/Processing

Speed is integrated over the sampling interval. Direction, temperature and, where measured, pressure are taken as spot measurements. Direction is corrected for magnetic variation. Pressure is not corrected for atmospheric variations. and is converted to metres of water assuming a sigma-t of 25.

Parameter values i.e. speed, direction etc. are given at times incremented by the nominal sampling interval. Sea floor depths are calculated from wire length and pressure record, if available, otherwise they are taken directly from Admiralty Charts and are expressed below Chart Datum. The site is positioned by Decca main chain which gives a relative accuracy of 0.1 nautical miles over most of the areas investigated.

Project Information

No Project Information held for the Series

Data Activity or Cruise Information

Data Activity

Start Date (yyyy-mm-dd) 1977-10-17
End Date (yyyy-mm-dd) 1977-11-25
Organization Undertaking ActivityInstitute of Oceanographic Sciences Bidston Laboratory (now National Oceanography Centre, Liverpool)
Country of OrganizationUnited Kingdom
Originator's Data Activity IdentifierR137,SD
Platform Categorysubsurface mooring

Mooring Information

5 meters were deployed on the mooring.

The data from the upper middle and lower middle meters are not included as they were measuring inclination (every 30 seconds) rather than current velocity. In addition the meter anchor was a ballast frame which housed two pressure recorders and an acoustic release.

Related Data Activity activities are detailed in Appendix 1

Fixed Station Information

No Fixed Station Information held for the Series

BODC Quality Control Flags

The following single character qualifying flags may be associated with one or more individual parameters with a data cycle:

Flag Description
Blank Unqualified
< Below detection limit
> In excess of quoted value
A Taxonomic flag for affinis (aff.)
B Beginning of CTD Down/Up Cast
C Taxonomic flag for confer (cf.)
D Thermometric depth
E End of CTD Down/Up Cast
G Non-taxonomic biological characteristic uncertainty
H Extrapolated value
I Taxonomic flag for single species (sp.)
K Improbable value - unknown quality control source
L Improbable value - originator's quality control
M Improbable value - BODC quality control
N Null value
O Improbable value - user quality control
P Trace/calm
Q Indeterminate
R Replacement value
S Estimated value
T Interpolated value
U Uncalibrated
W Control value
X Excessive difference

SeaDataNet Quality Control Flags

The following single character qualifying flags may be associated with one or more individual parameters with a data cycle:

Flag Description
0 no quality control
1 good value
2 probably good value
3 probably bad value
4 bad value
5 changed value
6 value below detection
7 value in excess
8 interpolated value
9 missing value
A value phenomenon uncertain
B nominal value
Q value below limit of quantification

Appendix 1: R137,SD

Related series for this Data Activity are presented in the table below. Further information can be found by following the appropriate links.

If you are interested in these series, please be aware we offer a multiple file download service. Should your credentials be insufficient for automatic download, the service also offers a referral to our Enquiries Officer who may be able to negotiate access.

Series IdentifierData CategoryStart date/timeStart positionCruise
16051Currents -subsurface Eulerian1977-10-17 18:53:0053.7633 N, 4.1183 WNot applicable
16087Currents -subsurface Eulerian1977-10-17 18:53:0053.7633 N, 4.1183 WNot applicable
33945Offshore sea floor pressure series1977-10-17 19:14:0853.7633 N, 4.1166 WNot applicable