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Energy, Climate change, Environment

Physical Parameters


EMODnet Physics is one of the seven domain-specific projects of the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) program and, through the effort done under the preparatory action, the development and operational phases, has successfully designed, organised and it is running operational services providing ocean physics data and data products built with common standards, free of charge and of restrictions.

The available parameters cover temperature, salinity and currents profiles, sea level trends, wave height and period, wind speed and direction, water turbidity (light attenuation), underwater noise, river flow, and sea-ice coverage. In situ data recorded by fixed platforms (moorings, tide gauges, HF radars, etc.), moving platforms (ARGO, Lagrangian buoys, ferryboxes, etc.) and repeated observations (CTDs, etc.) are available. Data products are collections of in-situ data, reanalysis and trends of parameters, space and time aggregated in situ data and model outputs.

EMODnet Physics originates from the advances made by the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) community - especially the European component (EuroGOOS) - in the development of physical operational oceanography capabilities. The consortium represents a strong cooperation between Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring System (CMEMS) In Situ Thematic Centre (INSTAC), SeaDataNet network of NODCs, International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), and Joint Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology in situ Observations Programme Support centre (OceanOPS).

Data from European pillar repositories and infrastructures, i.e. CMEMS-INSTAC and SDN-NODC, are integrated with other available sources such as ICES, PANGAEA, PSMSL, SONEL, IOC, etc. to make available the most comprehensive ocean physics catalogues.

Available datasets are provided with metadata and are downloadable in multiple data formats (e.g., netcdf, csv, txt, etc.). Besides, EMODnet Physics develops interoperability services to facilitate machine-to-machine interaction and to provide further systems and services for the European seas and ocean physical data and metadata.

Thanks to international collaborative relationships to provide data access to – and preview for – coastal data in non-European areas (e.g. NOAA platforms for the US, IAPB platforms for the Arctic area, SOOS for the Southern Ocean Observing System, IMOS for Australia, DOOS for Deep Ocean platforms and others), EMODnet Physics catalogues are going beyond European borders to offer an even more exhaustive entry point to global-ocean physical observations.

The EMODnet Physics mapviewer lets the user discover and access data per theme, platform, recording age, depth, provider, area. For each connected dataset/platform, a dedicated platform page is available. These pages provide the user with metadata, plots, download features, platform products – e.g. monthly averages or wind plots – more info and links, as well as statistics on the use of the data from that platform. Data quality information is available in connection with datasets, as well as it is possible to explore available machine-to-machine services (widgets, ERDDAP, etc.).


  • Temperature and Salinity in the water column

Temperature, in the water column, is a vital component of the climate system and its variability. Salinity observations contribute to monitoring the global water cycle, ocean density and mass, etc. These in situ data are an important input for many ocean phenomena models, to validate and calibrate remote sensing observations and to understand the ocean’s role in the global climate system. In situ observation available in EMODnet Physics are taken from a variety of catalogues (e.g. CMEMS INSTAC, SDN, IOOS, AIMOS, etc.) linking platforms with a large range of spatial and temporal scales. EMODnet Physics data collection includes: ~2.000 moorings offering very high temporal resolution at specific locations, but with spatial resolution limited by density of the array; ~200 gliders and ~2.000 tagged animals that achieve much higher spatial resolution depending on endurance and other instrument characteristics; ~9.000 profiling floats (ARGO) delivering temperature profiles (nominally 0-2.000 m); ~130.000 spots along the tracks of research voyages of ship-based Conductivity-Temperature-Depth (CTD) observations providing full depth temperature observations; ~11.500 surface loads and ~270 ferrybox repeated transects providing high-resolution sea surface temperature datasets. Based on the CORA (Coriolis Ocean Dataset for Reanalysis), EMODnet Physics is making available a gridded (0,5 degree * 0,5 degree) monthly variation of the temperature, from early 1900 to 2016. Based on the SeaDataNet regional products (based on the SeaDataNet aggregated dataset - DIVA software v4.6.10 - mask: relative error threshold 0.5) it is making available regional temperature Climatology (1900-2013).

  • Sea Surface Currents

Ocean surface general circulation is responsible for significant surface transport of heat, salt, passive tracers and ocean pollutants. The existing surface current observing systems (moorings, Lagrangian drifters) capture much of this range. EMODnet Physics is combining these observations together with land-based HF radars observation that offer a high-resolution tool (with limited spatial coverage) for improved understanding of surface currents, eddies and air-sea fluxes, and exchange between coastal waters and the open ocean. The EMODnet Physics HFR catalogue (150 antennas) groups the European observation capacity (40 antennas) with other global sources to provide the user with one of the most exhaustive sources of HF Radar observations (see also GOOS-ObservingElementSpecification-HFRadar.pdf). Based on this catalogue, EMODnet Physics is also delivering an operational product of surface currents direction and intensity.

Figure 1. EMODnet Physics HFR catalogue (left) and the product (right)

  • River Runoff Data

River runoffs exert a strong influence in their neighbouring coastal area in several ways, modifying water stratification, introducing significant fluctuations in circulation patterns and modulating the impact of upwelling events. In the current context of a global decline of hydrometric networks, uncertainties include the river runoff reaching the coast and most of the water properties as temperature, salinity, etc. For this reason, river climatologies are generally imposed in the land boundaries of coastal or regional ocean models, ignoring river variability in flow and other associated properties. In any case, the main weakness of river climatologies is their incapacity to include the inter-annual variability, compared to watershed model applications that are in agreement with the main river flow trends. On the other hand, watershed models tend to overestimate river flows, especially during dry seasons. EMODnet Physics provides access to in situ river runoff operational data: River runoff product.

  • Total Suspended Matter

Total Suspended Matter (unit: % of suspended particles, not dissolved) is a gridded product based on the CoastColour L2W Concentrations Data, obtained from the OC4 algorithm for clear and moderate turbid waters, and from the CoastColour v1 neural network. The L2W product is then remapped on a regular grid, maintaining 300m full resolution, in order to obtain products over the European sea basins and monthly averaged. The product covers the period 2003 – 2012. Go to the “Total Suspended Matter” product.

  • Impulsive Noise Event Registry

A regional impulsive noise registry gives support to the Regional Sea Convention in providing information that will feed regional assessments, and to the reporting by its contracting parties to MSFD descriptor 11.1.1 (Low and mid-frequency impulsive noise). The data are collated nationally from registers of licenced events such as pile driving, controlled explosions from naval operations and other activities that release energy. Starting from the already implemented regional registries of impulsive noise, EMODnet Physics harmonised and integrated the registry into one single discoverable interface. The ICES statistical sub-rectangles (10’ lat*20’ long) were extended to cover the Mediterranean Sea, the noise event shape files were harvested from the HELCOM, OSPAR and ACCOBAMS hosting repositories, and the events falling into the block were considered to have the pulse event days per block.

  • Ice Extent and Ice-type

This product covers both the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. It is based on the SEAICE_GLO_SEAICE_L4_NRT_OBSERVATIONS_011_001 that is developed by SIW-METNO-OSLO-NO for CMEMS.  EMODnet Physics is integrating that product together with in situ observations and, only for the Arctic, the Seasonal Ice Extent (million square kms) as computed by the Arctic Regional Ocean Observing System. The product provides, in operational mode: sea ice concentration, sea ice edge, sea ice type (OSI-401 OSI-402 and OSI-403). These products have daily data starting from 2005 at 10km resolution.

  • Wave and winds – Sea State

Sea State is the characterisation of wave and swell, typically in terms of height, wavelength, period, and directional wave energy flux. Although it is well known that sea state strongly impacts on marine safety, marine transport and damage to structures, the availability of in situ wave and wind observations is still very limited. These data are accessible in EMODnet Physics, integrating several data sources (Data Buoy Cooperation Panel, OceanSITES, regional observations in Europe – CMEMS INSTAC, US - IOOS, Australia – IMOS, etc.) into one single catalogue. Operational data are aggregated into a synoptic dynamic view.

Users and uses

Physical Parameters panelpic

Physics DataBox

Leading Partner

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Data available

  • Sea water temperature

  • Sea water salinity or density
  • Sea water currents
  • Sea level
  • Waves
  • winds (speed & direction)
  • Water clarity (light attenuation)
  • Atmospheric and metorological paramters at sea level/ground
  • Under water acoustic pollution (noise)
  • River outflow
  • Ice edge and type

Other features

Water column parameters Sea basins Data originators and providers Boxing and search features  

Machine-to-Machine Services

  • WMS:
  • WFS:
  • WebS: