European Sea-Level Service

Tide coming in at a beach in North Eastern England
Tide coming in at a beach in North Eastern England ©

What is the ESEAS?

The European Sea-Level Service (ESEAS) is an international collaboration of organisations in 18 countries. These countries are operating more than 170 tide gauges along European coasts or providing sea level related information originating from other sources such as satellite altimetry, GPS and absolute gravity measurements at tide gauges.

What are the aims of the ESEAS?

  • To provide quality-assured sea level and sea level related information for European waters to a broad range of scientific and non-scientific users.
  • Coordinate, and where necessary initiate, sea level and related observations in European waters.
  • To set standards for the operation of gauges, for the quality control of data, and also for the products and information supplied to the user.

What is the ESEAS-RI?

The ESEAS-RI (Research Infrastructure) project was established by the ESEAS to support the research infrastructure of the ESEAS and facilitate full scientific exploitation of European sea level observations. This project is supported by the European Commission.

The primary scientific objective of the ESEAS-RI project is to study sea level variations at inter-annual to century time scales as well as to assess potential future changes in mean sea level.

There are five work packages

  1. Quality control of sea level observations. Provide access to, and quality control European tide gauge data.
  2. Absolute sea level variations. The main objective is to correct relative sea level observations for vertical land movement, determined from continuous GPS measurements.
  3. Decadal to inter-decadal sea level variations. Provide a model of relative sea level variations over the last 100 years, with temporal resolution of 10 years.
  4. Improving the sea level observing system. The main objective is to enhance long-term research. This will be achieved through upgrading selected tide gauges in scientifically relevant locations to present standard and augmenting specific tide gauges with continuous GPS.
  5. Overall project management.

What is BODC’s role?

BODC is involved in work package 1 of the ESEAS-RI and we are working on

  • Quality control. A common set of procedures should be adopted for the quality control of tide gauge data. Work package 1 aims to standardise methods for quality control of sea level data. This will result in data sets of sea level that have been acquired and processed to agreed standards and may be combined into a single pan-European data set.
  • Data archaeology. Improving tide gauge records from certain areas like the Eastern part of the Baltic Sea and the Adriatic by carrying out 'data archaeology' and digitising older analogue records. A questionnaire was sent out to all countries operating ESEAS observing sites to build up a catalogue of charts that needed rescuing.
  • Data delivery. BODC is involved in the design of user-friendly interfaces to databases to facilitate research into the improvement of observation and analysis methods.