History and missions of the data centre

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History and missions of the data centre

  • SISMER (Systèmes d'Informations Scientifiques pour la Mer) is the Designated National Oceanographic Data Centre for France (French NODC) for the International Oceanographic Data Exchange programme (IODE) of UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC).

  • It was created in 1990, following the former “Bureau National des Données Océaniques” (BNDO created in 1968) and belongs to the Informatics and Marine Data Department (IDM) of IFREMER, the main French government research agency devoted to ocean research and exploitation.


  • IFREMER (the French Institute of Research and Exploitation of the Sea), a public institute of industrial and commercial nature, created by a decree of 5 June 1984, is the only French body with an exclusively maritime vocation.

  • It is placed under the joint authority of the Ministries of Research and Technology, of Fisheries and Equipment and Transport.

  • Annual budget : 150million €,

  • 1700 executives, researchers, engineers, seamen, technicians and administrative staff

  • Around 70 laboratories of research or service departments, located in 5 centres (Boulogne-sur-mer, Brest, Nantes, Toulon, Tahiti) and 21 stations along the entire coastline of metropolitan France and in French overseas territories

  • 7 vessels (3 for coastal seas) , 1 manned + 1 remote submersibles (Nautile and Victor), various anchored and drifting platforms equipped with scientific instruments.

Computer and Marine Data Department (IDM)

SISMER team and main activities

  • Reference Geographical Data

  • GIS

  • Michel BELLOUIS

  • Patrick DANEL

SISMER missions

  • To design and operate scientific information systems and databases in the domain of the sea;

  • To set the standards of quality to be respected for data storage;

  • To maintain an inventory of information systems and databases, the responsible scientists and rules for their availability;

  • To represent IFREMER within national and international authorities concerned with the management of sea data;

  • To provide training and transfer of knowledge within its field of competence.

SISMER projects

General inventories

  • Cruises summary reports(ROSCOP/CSR )

  • French Directory of Marine data (EDMED)

  • European Directory of Initial Observation Systems (EDIOS)

  • Environmental Research Projects (EDMERP)

  • Common Data Index (CDI)

National physical and bio-Chemical database

  • Main data sets in the national archives:

  • CTD profiles 33316

  • Bottle Cast profiles 43507

  • Current Meter Time Series 2138

  • Underway ADCP 222 cruises

  • Thermistor Chain Time Series 125

  • Sea surface salinity from TSG (cruises) 401 cruises

National physical and bio-chemical database

ADCP data processed in near real time

Operational Oceanography CORIOLIS data centre

    • In situ data for operational oceanography needs, for open ocean
      • Argo profiling floats,
      • XBT (GTSPP program)  and TSG (Gosud project) data  from research and merchant vessels
      • Moorings (OceanSites project) ,Surface drifting floats and gliders

Coriolis data centre : 5744 ARGO floats (2994 active)

Coriolis data centre : French contribution to GOSUD

Coriolis data centre : underway data

Operational Oceanography CORIOLIS data centre

FORMATS for physical and chemical data

  • Catalogues metadata : Oracle database

  • Data either

    • in ASCII files (physical and geochemical database
      • auto descriptive ASCII (MEDATLAS) : CTD, Bottle
      • NetCDF : ADCP, ARGO
    • In ORACLE database : Real time data of Coriolis data centre

Quality Assurance : delayed mode data

    • Methodology
    • QC0 : Check the format and the completeness of the information
    • QC1 : Check the location and date
    • QC2 : Check the data points
    • Results
    • GTSPP Quality flag to each numerical value (Physical-bio-chemical data)
    • References - Standards
      • CIEM-Marine Data Management working Group (CIEM)
      • UNESCO/COI/IODE : International Oceanographic Data & Information Exchange

QC1 Control of the location and Date - Data collected in station

QC2 - Control of the data points

National geophysical & geological database

  • Content of the French National Archives (in number of cruises):






  • MGD77 (international exchange format) 542

  • Imagery data of multibeam echosounders: 233

  • Seismics 110

  • Geological samples database BGM (joint project with French Geological Survey) :

  • Related Projects : National Bank, DORSALES-RIDGE, EUROSEISMICS, EXTRAPLAC

Data centre for coastal operational oceanography (CDOCO)

  • General objectives of the PREVIMER project

    • To provide operational services to the actors and users of coastal operational oceanography
    • To develop partnership with
      • the data providers
      • the different users
  • Role of the data centre

    • To organise the collection of real time or delayed mode data
    • To quality check the collected data (in situ data)
    • To archive the collected data
    • To deliver the data to the models
    • To archive the models results
    • To deliver the models results to PREVIMER Web
    • To make the in-situ data available to the different users of the coastal oceanography

CDOCO : Data circulation

National geophysical & geological database

National geophysical & geological database

National geophysical & geological database

Reference data – SEXTANT Coastal GIS

  • Ifremer has developed Sextant, a GIS to facilitate access an use of geographical data and products (cadastral and legal data, bathymetry,…) from various sources, in particular from the Hydrographic Office and the National Geographical Institute, for the implementation of specific programmes  

  • Sextant is restricted to Ifremer and to laboratories involved in these programmes

  • Sextant provides tools for data search and extraction at several formats  (ESRI, MapInfo, …) compatible with the most used software ( ArcView, GMT, MatLab, Surfer…)..

Data Circulation

SISMER Data Management System


  • Web portals : NAUTILUS, CORIOLIS Web portal

  • ftp sites for regular disseminations (modellers, IODE ..)

  • Manual processing to email requests (sismer@ifremer.fr)

  • Specific products on Cdrom

  • Annual Cruise Reports on paperprint untill 2006. From 2007 only a summary available on paperprint, details on cruises only on the Web

Nautilus Web portal

Where? Geographical Selection


Publication Tools

  • Data products on Cdrom

  • data selection through several criterions including geographical areas – several output formats including ODV compatible, NETCDF and MEDATLAS

Manual Data Dissemination

  • +

    • web site: about 1000 hit /day (excluding robots), a third of it for the cruise catalogue
    • Coriols Site: > 1000 data access/year

Conclusions: Main Recent Activities (2007-2008)

  • Enlarge the « on line data access » -Nautilus- to other databases (mainly related to geosciences data)

  • Devellop a new QC tool (SCOOP²) which take in account both NRT & DM requirements

  • Coordination of SeaDataNet

  • Enlarge the SeaDataNet Concept to geosciences data (Geoseas proposal)

  • Improvement of the communication with the users/providers community: How to improve the visibility and get a better feedback from the users ? How to improve the data compilation?

    • University Courses (E. Moussat, M. Fichaut, G. Maudire)
    • International Conference IMDIS 2008
    • French Users Forum + letter (in French, 440 copies disseminated)


  • SISMER is present on all the main aspect of ocean data management

  • It includes:

    • Conventional data management
      • Physical & bio-chemical data archiving
      • Geophysical, geological data archiving
      • Data from french research vessels
    • Data management for operational oceanography
      • Coastal operational oceanography –CDOCO)
      • Open Ocean operational oceanography –Coriolis
    • Reference Data

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