Marine environmental data - sources and use

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Sources of marine environmental data

Physical, chemical and biological data can be obtained from many websites.

  • The MESH[1] - developed a framework for Mapping European Seabed Habitats, which contains 1013 datasets. MESH is an international marine habitat mapping programme that started in spring 2004 and lasted for 3 years. A consortium of 12 partners across the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium and France gained financial support from the EU INTERREG IIIB fund for this international programme. The MESH partnership covers all five countries in the INTERREG (IIIb) north-west Europe area, drawing together scientific and technical habitat mapping skills, expertise in data collation and its management, and proven practical experience in the use of seabed habitat maps for environmental management within national regulatory frameworks.
  • Marine Data Information Partnership (MDIP[2]) - a partnership of public and private sector organisations working to provide harmonised stewardship and access to marine data and information, and so facilitate improved management of the seas around the UK. MDIP hosts a discovery metadata portal for UK marine environmental data.
  • SeaDataNet [3] (2006-2011) is a standardized distributed system for managing the large and diverse data sets collected by the oceanographic fleets and the new automatic observation systems.
  • British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC [4]) is a national facility for looking after and distributing data concerning the marine environment. The BODC deal with biological, chemical, physical and geophysical data, and our databases contain measurements of nearly 10,000 different variables.
  • Data Archive for Seabed Species and Habitats (DASSH [5]) is the UK Marine Data Archive Centre for benthic survey data of both species and habitats. DASSH provides digital archive facilities for benthic datasets and a digital repository for benthic images and video.

Uses of Marine Environmental Data


The Universal Coastal Intelligence Toolkit (UCIT, pronounced as Use it!), is an information system developed by WL|Delft Hydraulics aimed at facilitating the use of data and (expert) knowledge in coastal problems. It does so by providing flexible access to and integration of various types of:

  • measurement data (transect, grid, point and line data),
  • analysis routines (i.e. state indicators on which decisions are based), and
  • models (morphological, ecological etc.).

Heart of the system are a database and a (partly) open source Matlab toolbox with a great number of analysis routines. A primary benefit of the UCIT approach is an increased efficiency in dealing with the 'traditional' data problems (e.g. data format, structure and availability, basic analysis etc.) for which long standing approaches are in principle available; less "reinventing-the-wheel". A secondary but by no means lesser benefit is the analysis environment itself which facilitates the interaction within and between research teams; more "learning-from-others".

Potential applications of UCIT focus on: projects with significant amounts of data that require a well structured approach, areas where projects are carried out on a regular basis, R&D projects involving data and models etc.

Use of data

The difficulty by using measurements as described above, is to translate these measurements to maps (point data -> 2-dimensional respresentation). For a working example see Interpolation of measured grain-size fractions.

See also

The main author of this article is Bas Borsje
Please note that others may also have edited the contents of this article.

Citation: Bas Borsje (2008): Marine environmental data - sources and use. Available from [accessed on 21-09-2017]