International Conference on the digitization and preservation of analogue archives, including tidal archives


UNESCO is organizing an international conference from September 26 to 28, 2012 in Vancouver, Canada, to explore the key issues affecting the preservation of paper documentary heritage and develop strategies that will help protect analogue and digitized archives. One session will be on preserving scientific data for the future with a description of rescuing US tide gauge data.


Registre marégraphique papier et outils numériques : clavier et souris (Crédits SHOM, Nicolas Pouvreau, septembre 2012)


Preservation and digitization of tidal archives

Like all archives, tide data stored on paper (analogue tide gauge data) are fragile. Some documents date back to the late 17th century in France, and it is important to preserve and transmit this heritage. Today, special initiatives are being implemented to preserve and promote universal access to this heritage through digitization.

There are numerous examples of how this scientific heritage is used: the reconstruction of the tide series for Brest and the Charente coast, as well as for observatories such as Dakar and the French Southern and Antarctic Lands show that it is possible to obtain secular sea level observations.


The value of reconstructing secular tide gauge series

Beyond studies on mean sea level (SONEL), reconstructions of sea level observations have numerous applications, including:

Analysis of extreme sea levels.

  • Tracking water depth reference data;
  • Meteocean studies;


Details on the session on scientific data (including tide data) at the conference

The preliminary program provides some information about this topic. P. Caldwell will present a description of rescuing tide gauge data, followed by a report on the U.S. NCDC programme of the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): Tide Gauge Data Rescue..

This session will focus more broadly on initiatives taken by members of the "Data-at-Risk" (DARTG) working group of the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA), a committee of the International Council for Science. These initiatives aim to preserve scientific data that are not available in electronic formats or that are not stored under optimal conditions or the media on which the information is presented has a short shelf-life.

DARTG is seeking sources of data around the world, many of which are irreplaceable for research on long-term trends of physical and chemical factors.

This session will conclude with an open discussion on these topics and related fields.


For further information


Other news on the tide gauge to discover: