History of REFMAR project

In 2000, the Institut Géographique National (IGN) and SHOM initiated the development of the SONEL (coastal sea level observation system) project, subsequently joined by the Université de La Rochelle and the LEGOS. The main aim was to provide scientific users with products resulting from the synergy of modern observation and analysis techniques available in the fields of tide gauging and geodesy. This primary objective continues today through the SONEL by the establishment of mean levels and comparing them with permanent GPS data co-located with the tide-gauges. In particular, SONEL thus continues the data centre and GPS computation activity and distributes the resulting products. Parallel REFMAR was hatched in 2010 as a result of taking charge of the "tidal" of SONEL.


In the beginning, SONEL

Since its origin, somehow or other SONEL has developed by means of a "best effort" approach by the SHOM, IGN, LEGOS, and Université de La Rochelle partners. The coordination and development of the SONEL computer system have thus been carried out in the Université de La Rochelle. The SONEL project and its demonstration model have, however, been very well received by the international community, with the distribution of the first tide gauge time data in January 2003, thus positioning France in second place in Europe for supplying this type of data.

However, due to a lack of legitimate national framework and numerous emerging applications, SONEL has been unable to bring together the sea level observation networks.

Jaquette du CD diffusé à l'occasion du colloque SONEL (Crédits SONEL, 2006)



REFMAR acquired this legitimacy through the Prime Ministerial instruction dated 20 April 2010, which targets the reasoned and rational development of efforts in the field of "in-situ" observation of the sea level on the coast using tide gauges; the exchange of know-how and results; the safe-guarding of historical observations; the scientific valorisation of the observations acquired by various bodies whose vocation is not always the same.


REFMAR concept

REFMAR adopts the concept of bringing together independent networks under the responsibility of partner bodies whilst also attending to the integration of the emerging networks at territorial scale for practical distribution through a single outlet. Through REFMAR, the latter can find a complementary distribution and valorisation of their data, as well as scientific and technical support for checking the quality of their observatories and, where applicable, contribute to their being brought up to standard. Do not hesitate to  contact us in order to add other tide gauge measurement points. If you so request, we can provide you with a standard agreement.


For more information



Last update of the page: August 21, 2012