Coastal Observatory, Liverpool Bay, Irish Sea Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory web site

Project summary

About us

Project summary

Future plans


Survey dates


Service level

Register for data

Conditions of use


Steering Group

SG Documentation

Study area
UK map showing the Irish Sea study area.

Satellite image of chlorophyll-a.

Sea surface temperature
Sea surface temperature from a POL operational model run at the Met Office.

Surface-bed temperature difference
Sea surface and sea bed temperature difference predicted by a 1.5km grid model of the Irish Sea, highlighting the stratified region to the west of the Isle of Man.

Predict currents
Predicted currents from a subset of the 300m grid Liverpool Bay model.

Research objectives
  • To understand, through effective continuous measurement and modelling, a coastal sea's response to natural and anthropogenic forcing .

  • To provide a framework for research into the functioning of a shelf sea in a changing climate
Download this information as a leaflet in pdf format (file size, 476K). (pdf files require Acrobat Reader v4 or greater).


On the 1st April 2011 the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory merged to form the National Oceanography Centre.


The Observatory will integrate (near) real-time measurements with coupled models into a pre-operational coastal prediction system whose results will be displayed on this web site.

The concept is founded on obtaining data in (near) real-time, using telemetry, from underwater to the sea surface to land to POL to this web site.

It will grow and evolve as resources and technology allow, all the while building up a long time series. The foci are the impacts of storms, variations in river discharge (especially the Mersey), seasonality, and blooms in Liverpool Bay.


Proposed monitoring system
Proposed Irish Sea monitoring system.
  • In situ time series of current, temperature and salintiy profiles and of waves and weather.
  • The CEFAS SmartBuoy for surface properties including nutrients and chlorophyll.
  • RV Prince Madog to service moorings and for spatial surveys.
  • Instrumented ferries for near surface temperature, salinity, turbidity, chlorophyll and later nutrients.
  • Drifters, measuring surface currents and properties such as temperature and salinity.
  • Tide gauges, with sensors for met, waves, temperature and salinity, where appropriate.
  • Met data from Hilbre Island and HF radar, tide gauge sites and in situ.
  • Shore-base HF radar measuring waves and surface currents out to a range of 50km.
  • Satellite data - infra-red (for sea surface temperature) and visible (for chlorophyll and suspended sediment).

The Coastal Observatory will use POLCOMS (Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory Coastal Ocean Modelling System). Nested 3-dimensional models covering the ocean/shelf of the northwest Europe (12km resolution), Irish Sea (1km) will focus on Liverpool Bay (100-300m resolution).

At the Met Office POLCOMS on an ocean/shelf domain, forced by NWP measoscale meteorology and ocean forcing from FOAM (Forecast Ocean Atmospheric Model), provides the boundary conditions for the Irish Sea model. Local river discharges will be included through a link-up to the Environment Agency river-flow network.

Initial implementation will be hydrodynamic with 3-dimensional wave-current interaction provided by two-way linking between wave (WAM) and current models with performance checked against the in-situ and coastal sea-level measurements. Methods of data assimilation will be explored.

POLCOMS also includes a sediment transport module for estimating concentrations of suspended particulate matter, an important influence on light attenuation and hence biological processes.

Nutrients and plankton dynamics will be simulated by coupling to the ERSEM (European Regional Seas Ecosystem Model) component of POLCOMS. CEFAS SmartBuoys and SeaWiFS satellite ocean colour sensor will provide validation data.

Models wil run daily in near-real time. All results (e.g. daily mean sea surface and sea bed temperature, currents, waves and sea surface height) will be displayed on tis web site.

Download this information as a leaflet in pdf format (file size, 476K). (pdf files require Acrobat Reader v4 or greater).

Back to top of page