Global Sea Level Observing System

Sea level is an extremely important oceanic parameter, relevant for research as well as practical purposes such as tsunami warning systems. Scientists use sea level measurements when validating storm surge models, which help in understanding changes in sea level resulting from climate change and what its impact will be on coastal environments. Statistics derived from long-term sea level measurements are used in the design of coastal structures that have the capability to cope with extreme water levels whilst keeping costs to a minimum.

The IOC’s international GLOSS programme (conducted under the auspices of JCOMM) has promoted and coordinated the development of such a system and currently there are almost 300 tide gauges in 100 countries providing statistics to the GLOSS programme.

UK Involvement

The UK provides data from its own network in the British Isles, Gibraltar and stations in the South Atlantic. It has also been assisting with the enhancement of the tide gauge network around Africa and the Arabian Sea. In turn the UK’s National Oceanography Centre relies on data from the GLOSS programme.

Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL)

Established in 1933, the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL) has been responsible for the collection, publication, analysis and interpretation of sea level data from the global network of tide gauges. It is based in Liverpool at the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), which is a component of the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

The PSMSL is a member of the Federation of Astronomical and Geophysical Data Analysis Services (FAGS), which is currently restructuring under the World Data System. Funding for the PSMSL comes from FAGS, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and NERC.

The director of the PSMSL is Dr Lesley Rickards.