Pan-European infrastructure for ocean & marine data management


9 September 2015

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The SeaDataNet II project is actively operating and further developing a pan-European infrastructure for managing, indexing and providing access to ocean and marine data sets and data products, acquired from research cruises and other observational activities in European marine waters and global oceans. It is undertaken by the National Oceanographic Data Centres (NODCs), and marine information services of major research institutes, from 35 coastal states bordering the European seas, and also includes experts in IT, data publishing, and modelling, as well as international organisations, namely IOC, ICES, and EU-JRC in its network. During many years, SeaDataNet is working closely together with other European RTD projects and initiatives such as EMODnet (European Marine Observation and Data Network – initiated by EU DG MARE in 2009) in the capacity of providing standards, services, data centres and infrastructure for managing marine and oceanographic data, and of providing experience and expertise for joint development of new standards and services. Technical innovations in standards and services enrich the basis of SeaDataNet and are implemented in its infrastructure, where possible. The SeaDataNet infrastructure provides harmonised discovery services and access to ocean and marine environmental data sets managed in distributed data centres, not only for partners in the SeaDataNet II project, but for many more data centres. The cooperation of SeaDataNet partners at national scale with other institutes in their countries and at European scale result in a steady  increase in the number of connected data centres and in the volume of data that is made discoverable and accessable through the SeaDataNet infrastructure.
SeaDataNet maintains several catalogue services: European Directory of Marine Organizations (EDMO), European Directory of Marine Environmental Data (EDMED), European Directory of Marine Environmental Research Projects (EDMERP), Cruise Summary Reports (CSR), and European Directory of Observing Systems (EDIOS). These catalogues allow users to improve their knowledge and to get insight into data activities in the marine domain and about organizations, active in any way in marine data acquisition through monitoring and research. These  catalogues are accessible through the SeaDataNet portal with user-friendly interfaces.
A major service is the SeaDataNet CDI Data Discovery and Access service. At present it connects and gives access to marine data sets from more than 100 data centres from 34 countries, riparian to European seas, and nearly 1.8 million data sets for physical oceanography, chemistry, geology, geophysics, bathymetry and biology, originating from more than 550 organisations
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Locations of data centres connected to the SeaDataNet CDI service
The following image gives a good illustration of the ongoing population of each of these catalogue services.
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Population of SeaDataNet catalogue services since September 2011. These statistics for the catalogue services can be followed at:
All the data sets are collected in research projects and monitoring programmes and after a process of quality control and formatting, archived in the local databases of the data centres that are connected to the SeaDataNet CDI Data Discovery and Access service. The CDI metadata is based upon the ISO 19115 – 19139 standards and completed by the data centres using common SeaDataNet tools and SeaDataNet controlled vocabularies, where possible. The metadata are kept up-to-date in a central catalogue with user-friendly interfaces. The service also includes a shopping basket mechanism including a transaction tracking service for users to request access to identified data sets, to monitor processing of requests, and to download data sets in standard  formats. This way the SeaDataNet portal provides a 'single stop shop' for all kinds of users to discover and request access to ocean and marine data sets acquired by European organisations for the European seas and global oceans.
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Snapshot from one of the SeaDataNet CDI User Interfaces
This Newsletter is presenting a number of the tools for data management as developed by SeaDataNet, and a selection of achievements in SeaDataNet II. The Newsletter also gives information on how the collaboration with EMODnet has resulted in some special products and services. The EU SeaDataNet II project will contractually end this year; however the infrastructure and services will continue on an operational basis, being the engine also for many other portals, such as a number of EMODnet thematic portals. Standards and services are always in development and therefore new opportunities for a successor SeaDataNet III project are being explored in order to ensure further innovations and uptake of new standards and services in the infrastructure. These innovations will then also benefit EMODnet and other EU projects that make use of the SeaDataNet infrastructure and its standards and services. The SeaDataNet II project will have its final plenary meeting in September 2015, and following the meeting, we will prepare and publish another Newsletter giving a full overview of SeaDataNet II achievements.
We hope you enjoy the newsletter and will be triggered to visit the SeaDataNet portal at for a try out of its services and to follow its evolution. Our goal is also to reach other people so, please, forward it to anyone you know may be interested.

Leda Pecci - chief editor, Michéle Fichaut - Coordinator and Dick M.A. Schaap - Technical Coordinator  

Standards are instrumental

SeaDataNet has developed and maintains a set of common standards for the marine domain, collaborating with European and international experts within the framework of IOC-IODE,  ICES, and ODIP, adopting and adapting ISO and OGC standards, and achieving INSPIRE compliance. These comprise:

  • Adoption of the ISO 19115 – 19139 standard for describing metadata on data sets (CDI = Common Data Index) and research cruises (CSR = Cruise Summary Reports). These standards consist of marine metadata profiles, schema’s, and schematron rules, which have been fully documented and can be retrieved from the SeaDataNet portal.
  • Controlled vocabularies for the marine domain (> 160.000 terms and > 60 lists), with international governance, user interfaces and web services. Use of common vocabularies in all metadatabases and data formats is an important prerequisite towards consistency and interoperability. The SeaDataNet vocabularies have been developed and are maintained by NERC-BODC. The present version 2.0 (NVS2.0) follows the SKOS specification for encoding data dictionaries and taxonomies served. See the SeaDataNet portal for more information and access to the services
  • Standard data exchange formats. As part of the SeaDataNet services, data sets are accessible via download services. Delivery of data to users requires common data transport formats, which interact with other SeaDataNet standards such as the Vocabularies and SeaDataNet Quality Flag Scale and with SeaDataNet analysis & presentation tools (ODV and DIVA). The following data transport formats have been defined:
    • SeaDataNet ODV4 ASCII for profiles, time series and trajectories,
    • SeaDataNet NetCDF with CF compliance for profiles, time series and trajectories,
    • SeaDataNet MedAtlas as optional extra format,
    • NetCDF with CF compliance for 3D observation data such as ADCP.
    See the SeaDataNet portal for more information and documentation.
  • Maintenance and dissemination of standard QA-QC procedures, together with IODE and ICES. See the portal for guidelines.

Standard tools

SeaDataNet has developed and maintains a set of tools to be used by each data centre and freely available from the SeaDataNet portal. It includes documentation and common software tools for metadata and data, statistical analysis and grid interpolation and a versatile software package for data analysis, QA-QC and presentation. As a selection, the following software upgrades have been released and are current: 

  • Mikado is a tool, developed by IFREMER,  to prepare and generate XML metadata entries for CDI, CSR, EDMED, EDMERP and EDIOS. It is compliant with latest SeaDataNet Schemas and NVS 2.0 vocabularies. Latest version: V3.3.4 (December 2014);
  • The Med2MedSDN software, developed by IFREMER, reformats MEDATLAS file(s) without the SeaDataNet extensions to MEDATLAS file()s with SeaDataNet extensions (format called SeaDataNet MEDATLAS). Users can convert one MEDATLAS file or one directory with one to n MEDATLAS files. Latest version: V1.2.3 (June 2014);
  • NEMO enables conversion from any type of ASCII format to the SeaDataNet ODV and Medatlas ASCII formats as well as now to the SeaDataNet NetCDF (CF) format for timeseries, profiles and trajectories observations. NEMO, developed by IFREMER, makes use of the Common Vocabularies and EDMO directory. The latter are each time synchronised by online connections to the respective Web Services on user demand. Latest version: V1.6.1 (July 2015);
  • Data centres can connect to the CDI Data Discovery and Access service to support automatic processing of data set requests, for as far as possible. Therefore a data centre has to install locally a java component ‘Download Manager (DM)', that handles all communication between the data centre system and the CDI RSM service and that takes care that requested files are made ready for downloading by users (if OK) via their personal download pages at the data centre. The DM software is maintained by IFREMER with input from MARIS and now also made fit for delivering SeaDataNet NetCDF formats next to ODV ASCII data files for profiles, timeseries and trajectories. Latest version: V1.4.6 (July 2015);
  • Ocean Data View (ODV) is a software package for the interactive exploration, analysis and visualization of oceanographic and other geo-referenced profile, time-series, trajectory or sequence data. ODV, developed by AWI, can display original data points or gridded fields based on the original data. ODV has two fast weighted-averaging gridding algorithms as well as the advanced DIVA gridding software built-in. Gridded fields can be color-shaded and/or contoured. The ODV data format allows dense storage and very fast data access. Large data collections with millions of stations can easily be maintained and explored on  inexpensive desktop and notebook computers. ODV also supports the netCDF format. Latest ODV4 Version: V4.7.3 (July 2015);
  • DIVA software tool (Data-Interpolating Variational Analysis), developed by the University of Liege, allows to spatially interpolate (or analyse) observations on a regular grid in an optimal way. The analysis is performed on a finite element grid allowing for a spatial variable resolution and a good representation of the coastline and isobaths. As some areas covered in the European seas have complex coastlines, the finite-element grid of DIVA will be able to adequately resolve those. Latest version: V4.6.10 (June 2015).
New format converters have been delivered in order to be able to convert existing formats to the new SeaDataNet NetCDF format: 

  • The MedSDN2CFPOINT software, developed by IFREMER, reformats MEDATLAS SeaDataNet files of vertical profiles, time series or trajectories to NetCDF SeaDataNet files. Latest version: V1.0.9 (July 2015);
  • The OdvSDN2CFPOINT software, developed by IFREMER, reformats ODV SeaDataNet files of vertical profiles, time series or trajectories to NetCDF SeaDataNet files. Latest version: V1.0.7 (July 2015);

All these tools can be downloaded together with user manuals and further documentation, where available, without any restriction from the SeaDataNet portal.

Some new features and developments

As part of the SeaDataNet II project many developments were undertaken for innovating the infrastructure and for improving the operational performance and robustness of the services. A selection of these is described here, while a more complete overview will be given in the next SeaDataNet Newsletter.
CDI user interfaces upgraded:
The user interface of the CDI service  - quick and extended search - have been upgraded by MARIS to comply with the upgraded CDI metadata format and schema as well as with the upgraded vocabularies service (NVS 2.0). Also a number of extra query functions have been incorporated such as searching by sea regions, by duration (relevant for time series), by data access restrictions, and by hierarchical relations between Disciplines, Parameter Groups, and Discovery Parameters, facilitating drilling down and including multiple terms in queries. Moreover the results list has been extended with an option to display the time duration of selected data sets. Queries can be stored as bookmark and shared as URLs with colleagues. And fulfilling a wish of many users, the maximum number of records per shopping basket has been enlarged from 500 to 10,000 records per transaction; this had impact on both the shopping dialogue and the transaction register service (Request Status Manager (RSM)). Of course, users can still submit as many shopping baskets as they want. 

Potential duplicates check:
Duplicates data sometimes occur and represent a problem for data management, for example different data providers may submit the same data sets, because data were collected in the same oceanographic campaign. Also it can happen that CDI entries are produced for duplicate data sets by the same data center, possibly due to small differences in metadata. Therefore, to ensure integrity of the CDI Data Discovery and Access service and to improve the overall quality of data deliveries by SeaDataNet infrastructure, a global potential duplicate check has been done on the central CDI database. This was done in the framework of a cooperation between SeaDataNet and the MYOCEAN project for preparing a European T&S climatology. A procedure and algorithm have been formulated and applied using ODV software. This has identified a range of potential duplicates, for which their providers have been informed. Consequently actions to solve the issues have been undertaken. In many cases, potential duplicates were not real duplicates, e.g. in case of repeated measurements at the same time and location, but at different waterdepths. In other cases, CDI entries had to be de-activated. 

In order to avoid in the future further duplicates in new entries to the CDI service, the duplicate detection algorithm has been integrated into the CDI validation and import procedures as operated by MARIS as central CDI manager. Every new CDI submission is validated this way for potential duplicates and reports are forwarded back to data providers for checking and possible correction before giving green light for moving new and updated CDI entries from the import service to the production service.

Network monitoring
One of the objectives of the SeaDataNet II project has been to turn the SeaDataNet infrastructure into an operationally robust and state-of-the-art infrastructure; therefore setting up Network Monitoring has been an important step. It deals with keeping the network and the services that the network provides up and running smoothly. It includes monitoring the network to spot problems as soon as possible, ideally before users are affected. Therefore a network monitoring system was developed by HCMR in order to monitor the SeaDataNet components. It is based on Nagios (TM) software. The system constantly checks the network state detecting for slow speed of connectivity or failure components. The monitoring system, automatically, notifies to the network administrator in case of issues. Furthermore there is a portal dedicated to network monitoring. It gives to the responsibles of local data centers an excellent instrument to improve the knowledge of quality of the services provided. To correct their services / servers malfunctions local administrators need more than a notification email; they need to have access to log files to get more detailed information about the source of the problem. Therefore a user friendly SeaDataNet Monitoring Portal has been developed that is addressed to local administrators who are responsible to maintain their services up and running. The portal gives an online web interface that provides the capability to registered users:
  • to search and access a variety of detailed information about their own servers and services status and logs 
  • to view all SeaDataNet's services status of operation (availability) 
  • to record and show the history of their servers/services status of operation 
  • to calculate an availability indicator for each of their services that reports as percentage their uptime. 
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Availability report for one service at the SeaDataNet Monitoring portal
The SeaDataNet components that are monitored are divided into two groups of services: 
  • The Core services, which are centrally-based provided services. 
  • The Local services, which are services that are provided by the partners' infrastructures. Such service is "Download Manager" (DM). 
This way, currently more than 100 services are being monitored. The monitoring results are also used in regular reports to oversee the overall performance of the SeaDataNet infrastructure and to analyse ‘weak links’. 

Implementation of data citation and persistent identifiers for data products
The potential value of data has been recognized worldwide and is a key topic of discussion for data, in general, and it is called “data curation”. The term defines policies and methods to guarantee, now and in the future, the use of data. One fundamental goal of the data curation is to ensure data preservation on long-term. The digital preservation involves the attribution to the digital resources of permanent identifiers, which is very important for sharing and to allow the reuse for any other purposes of the data. There are different ways to assign a persistent identifier to data. One of the more widespread methods is the Digital Object Identifier, henceforth abbreviated as DOI. The DOI system is an ISO standard, managed by Registration Agencies. A DOI name is a unique alphanumeric string, unchangeable, in the following format: doi:prefix/suffix that permits locating digital resources on the Internet. 

SeaDataNet has been collecting and making good quality and interoperable data, since 2006, supporting scientific outcomes. All papers or books have to cite their sources including data. Data citation should complete publications, encourage producers to provide their data and protect their intellectual rights. In order to allow effective data citation in SeaDataNet the process of assigning persistent identifiers is ongoing for data products. A part of the data assets’ infrastructure constitutes basic products as aggregated sets of observational data, model data and images. The regional centres (Mediterranean, Black Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, North seas, Baltic and Arctic) develop statistical products as, for example, monthly and seasonal-averaged and interpolated data. A DOI provides a persistent link between the resource and its location on the Internet. In SeaDataNet an online catalogue based upon the Sextant service will provide access to the maps related to the data products and will contain the DOI for citation.  

To locate and search for a DOI name is made possible by using the following website: and typing the name into the “doi” text box. The user will be redirected, by the browser, to the web page of the indicated resource. In our case it will resolve to the corresponding online page in the SeaDataNet catalogue.

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DOI name resolution at web address

Strategy and cooperation

SeaDataNet and its partners cooperate with many other EU projects and EU initiatives in order to expand its infrastructure with more data centres and more data sets, and to develop further its standards and services.  
The European Commission states in its communication to the European Parliament and the Council entitled “MARINE KNOWLEDGE 2020 - marine data and observation for smart and sustainable growth” that the creation of marine knowledge begins with observation of the seas and oceans. An impact assessment estimates that the collection of marine data by public institutions in EU Member States costs more than €1 billion annually, with a further €0.4 billion for marine-related satellite data. A related public consultation concluded that users continue to find it hard to discover what data already exist. This can be due to restrictions on access, use and re-use or the pricing policy of some providers. Moreover, fragmented standards, formats and nomenclature, lack of information on precision and accuracy, and insufficient temporal or spatial resolution are further barriers. 

SeaDataNet provides an operational infrastructure and is also further developing its services and products to meet the challenges of the Marine Knowledge communication, and also the EU INSPIRE and Marine Strategy Framework Directives. In 2008 the EU initiated the development of an overarching European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet). It must facilitate long-term and sustainable access to the high-quality data necessary to understand the biological, chemical and physical behaviour of seas and oceans. 

Partnerships from the SeaDataNet consortium successfully bid to develop and manage a number of the EMODnet prototypes and follow-on projects, such as for example the EMODnet Bathymetry and Chemistry portals, which began in 2009. These portals make use of the SeaDataNet standards and basic infrastructure, and have provided an excellent opportunity to engage and reach out to other data centres. This has resulted in more data centres connecting to the SeaDataNet infrastructure and populating their metadata and data to the SeaDataNet services. It has also resulted in the development of a number of interesting products and services. This way the SeaDataNet consortium and infrastructure contribute and play a major role in the development and actual implementation of EMODnet.

SeaDataNet has focused, with success, on establishing common standards and on applying those standards for interconnecting the data centres enabling the provision of integrated online access to comprehensive sets of multi-disciplinary, in situ marine data, metadata and products. It is able to support a wide variety of data types and to serve several sector communities. SeaDataNet is also actively sharing its technologies and expertise, spreading and expanding its approach, and building bridges to other well established infrastructures in the marine domain. This has resulted in adoption and an active role for a number of SeaDataNet partners in many related data management projects, such as Geo-Seas, Upgrade Black Sea Scene, CaspInfo, EuroFleets 1 and 2, Jerico, Jerico Next, ClipC, Micro-B3, AtlantOS, ENVRIplus and others. 

SeaDataNet cooperates with EuroGOOS, the association of national governmental agencies and research organisations committed to European-scale operational oceanography within the context of the intergovernmental Global Ocean Observing System, and the consortium, that is implementing and operating the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service (CMEMS). The cooperation focuses on improving the availability of high quality and harmonised physical oceanography data sets in real-time and delayed mode, as long term archives, in support of operational oceanography. 

In addition, SeaDataNet partners cooperate with the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO), EurOcean, International association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP) (SIMORC service), and leading oceanographic institutes from USA and Australia in the frame of the Ocean Data Interoperability Platform (ODIP) project. 

EMODnet Chemistry

EMODnet Chemistry started in August 2013 as a follow up to the earlier pilot project. The project is well underway in achieving its goals of assembling measurements for chemicals related to eutrophication and contaminants and establishing a dedicated infrastructure that provides access to all assembled data and derived regional data products for all sea basins in European waters in a uniform way. EMODnet Chemistry has adopted and contributed to upgrading of various SeaDataNet services and tools:
  • the SeaDataNet CDI Data Discovery and Access service with its network of distributed data centres is used to provide an integrated and harmonised overview and access to chemical observation data; MIKADO and NEMO tools are used by each data centre partner to prepare their new data submissions; an extra CDI User Interface ‘Search Chemicals by Regions’ has been launched which displays per sea region and per chemicals group by map and table how many measurement data are available. Clicking on a colored square in the table triggers a query on the Common Data Index (CDI) Data Discovery and Access service that allows the user to browse the metadata of these data sets in more detail and to narrow down their query; 
  • the ODV software is used by regional coordinators to quality control and harmonise the gathered data collections for generating regional data products. Quality control is a key issue when merging heterogeneous data coming from many different sources. For this reason, a data quality loop was defined and implemented. The ODV software was upgraded in several ways, such as facilitating merging of received data (ODV format) and metadata (CDI format) into metadata enriched data, harmonisation of parameters (P01) and units (P06) using chemical business rules, and aggregation of multiple parameters (P01) into unified aggregated parameter terms, for which the new P35 vocabulary has been set-up. Moreover the regional coordinators made extensive use of the ODV software for validating the resulting data collections and establishing final quality flags. This process is quite laborsome, but required to achieve harmonised, integrated and validated regional data collections; 
  • the DIVA software is used by regional coordinators for generating regional data products using the quality checked and harmonised regional data collections from the previous step as input. Products prepared with DIVA are spatially distributed data products with 10-years moving window for selected parameters; these are published using the SeaDataNet OceanBrowser viewing service in combination with the SeaDataNet Sextant catalogue with metadata for describing the products; 
  • In addition dynamic station distribution maps, time series plots and vertical profiles plots are published, on top of a database of the quality checked and harmonised regional data collections. These data visualisations are achieved by new WPS services in combination with the CDI service and the OceanBrowser service.
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illustrating the workflow in EMODnet Chemistry   

The data population activities by EMODnet Chemistry partners have been very fruitful and resulted in a steady increase of data for nutrients and contaminants in the CDI service, also including many recent data sets from national monitoring and research activities. In total the chemical data collection currently amounts to more than half a million CDIs and related data sets that are managed by more than 60 data centres. The CDI service has several user interfaces, that are aimed at human users. However projects such as EMODnet Chemistry require regular and operational metadata and data exchanges. Therefore SeaDataNet has developed a machine to machine interaction, which is now fully operational, to facilitate an efficient discovery and retrieval of data collections. It consists of a robot harvesting system for automatic discovery and harvesting of metadata and data sets, and an online SeaDataNet Buffer Content Management System (CMS), which allows to configure specific group profiles (specify group, involved users, motivation, query criteria). The Buffer CMS works together with the upgraded Request Status Manager (RSM) service, an existing component of the CDI shopping mechanism, to perform and administer robot shopping transactions and to store the harvested data sets in central buffers. This also includes maintenance, whereby new and updated CDI entries are identified and used to trigger additional harvesting for the central data buffers.
Furthermore, the central buffers have been equipped with a Central buffer CDI User Interface including shopping mechanism, to facilitate the extraction and delivery of metadata and data sets from the central buffer databases in a regulated way. All central shopping transactions on the central buffers are administered in a new section of the RSM so that data providers can fully oversee all transactions. Note: this buffering system is exclusive for specific applications and communities and access is secured via the SeaDataNet AAA service only for authorised users as defined in the buffer CMS. It does not replace the distributed CDI infrastructure and its shopping process for regular users. Next to the human operated Central Buffer User Interface also an Application Programming Interface (API) has been developed. This API works next to the Central Buffer User Interface and facilitates remote and authorised machines, using the SeaDataNet AAA service. 

For EMODnet Chemistry the harvesting of nutrients data was successfully undertaken using the fully automatic robot harvester and has resulted in circa 480.000 data records that have been delivered to the regional coordinators in November 2014. Another robot harvesting buffer has been configured for contaminants which is underway. In the meantime data providers are continuing their data identification and population activities giving a larger data collection. 

Advanced viewing services
The advanced viewing services comprise the OceanBrowser service for viewing and downloading of DIVA maps in combination with WPS services for interrogating and visualising the underlying harmonised data collections. The OceanBrowser Viewing service, developed and maintained by University of Liege (Ulg), provides access to the DIVA interpolated maps. Output images are available as horizontal sections and vertical sections. The latter can be selected by drawing an appropriate transect. ULg together with IFREMER has finalised the integration with the Sextant data products metadata catalogue. This now gives users the option to select EMODnet Chemistry data products in the Sextant catalogue and then to visualise and browse those in the OceanBrowser. Alternatively users can visualise data products in the OceanBrowser and then to look up their description from the Sextant Catalogue.

Deltares has made very good progress with the development of additional visualisation services for the aggregated and validated data collections. These visualisations are produced by Web Processing Services (WPS) in a Python framework and generate:
  • Plots of time series and profiles of selected parameters from data sets of selected stations 
  • Maps of regional data collections displaying spatial resolution in time and intensity of data availability for selected parameters 
The regional data collections are loaded into a PostgreSQL/PostGIS database, followed by WPS services to extract the data. One service is a WFS service (making use of GeoServer) to calculate and display maps with the locations and data intensity at those locations following a set filter by parameter, date period, and depth interval. This layer is integrated into the OceanBrowser service. 

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OceanBrowser with map of data locations and data intensity per parameter per location by colour 
Furthermore WPS services have been implemented for generating fully dynamic plots of the data at a selected location as time series or as profiles. This includes a second filter to amend the displayed subset of data by date period and depth interval. 

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Plots of timeseries and profiles of data at selected location as pop-up on top of the OceanBrowser WFS map 

Further work is ongoing for completing the loading of the database, finalising and publishing the regional data products, and optimising the performance of the various services.  

The EMODnet Chemistry project is coordinated by Alessandra Giorgetti of OGS (Italy). See

EMODnet Bathymetry

Another very interesting and illustrative example of what one can achieve with the SeaDataNet approach can be found at the EMODnet Bathymetry portal. Its development started in June 2009 as pilot followed by 2 consecutive projects. At present almost 14.000 bathymetric survey datasets, managed by 27 data centres from 14 countries and originated from 167 institutes, have been gathered and populated in the EMODnet Bathymetry Data Discovery and Access service, adopting SeaDataNet standards. In addition a number of data providers have delivered composite DTMs as alternative to survey data sets and these are populated with metadata in the EMODnet Sextant Catalogue service. From these circa 7.000 survey data sets and 30 composite DTMs together have been used as input for analysing and generating a harmonised EMODnet Digital Terrain Model (DTM), for all of the European sea basins.

Gaps in coverage by survey data sets and composite DTMs are completed by using the GEBCO – 2014 DTM data. GEBCO ( General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans) is partner in the project, while for Baltic Sea synergy takes place with the Baltic Sea Bathymetry Database project of the Baltic Sea Hydrographic Commission. 

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harmonised batymetry for all European seas 

The Bathymetry Viewing and Download service gives users wide functionality for viewing and downloading the EMODnet digital bathymetry:
  • water depth in gridded form on a DTM grid of 1/8 * 1/8 arc minute of longitude and latitude (ca 230 * 230 meters) 
  • option to view depth parameters of individual DTM cells and references to source data 
  • option to download DTM in 16 tiles in different formats: ESRI ASCII, XYZ, EMODnet CSV, NetCDF (CF), GeoTiff and SD 
The NetCDF (CF) DTM files are fit for use in a special 3D Viewer software package which is based on the existing open source NASA World Wind JSK application. It has been developed in the frame of the EU FP7 Geo-Seas project (another sibling of SeaDataNet for marine geological and geophysical data) and is freely available. The 3D viewer also supports the ingestion of WMS overlay maps. The SD files can also be used for 3D viewing by means of the freely available Fledermaus software.

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DTM loaded into 3D-Viewer as developed and freely downloadable from Geo-Seas
The already impressive release of February 2015 of the EMODnet Digital Bathymetry (DTM) has been updated in the last 6 months and is recently published. Compared to its previous version, several anomalies as identified have been corrected improving the overall product considerably. And the number of surveys data sets and composite DTMs used as sources has increased from circa 6.000 to circa 7.000. In addition, the new release includes layers showing high resolution bathymetry for selected coastal waters in Europe to test the concept of a multi resolution product. High resolution data is available for the German North Sea coast, the French Mediterranean coast and Dunmanus bay in Ireland.

Further upgrading of the EMODnet DTM is planned incorporating even more surveys and further improvement of the digital bathymetry. Therefore we continue our invitation to potential survey data providers to contact us for cooperation and and generating an even better DTM product.

The EMODnet Bathymetry project is coordinated by Dick M.A. Schaap (MARIS – The Netherlands). The portal can be found at:

IMDIS Conference

IMDIS 2013: the fourth International Marine Data and Information System Conference, was held on 26 – 27 September 2013 in Lucca (Italy). It was organised by: ENEA, IFREMER, OGS (abstracts), INGV (Side Event). IMDIS 2013 was a great success with 180 participants from 37 Countries, including some representatives from the IOC UNESCO, FAO, GOOS and EC-JRC. There were 50 oral presentations and 68 posters. The proceedings have been published in the Vol. 54 – supplement of Bollettino of Geofisica. An electronic version of the book of abstracts is also downloadable at web address: All the presentations have been video recorded by IOC/IODE and are available, together with the pdf of the oral presentations and posters: A huge thanks to all of you who contributed to IMDIS.