European Marine Sensors Calibration Network | JPI OCEANS

European Marine Sensors Calibration Network

Joint Action Facts
Strategic area:
  • Observing, modelling and predicting ocean state and processes
Type of action:
  • Research alliance
  • Knowledge hub
  • Network of people
  • Training
  • Mobility
  • Accessing or sharing of marine infrastructures
  • Access to data
Lead countries:
  • Greece
More Information
Secretariat Contact:

Jon Øygarden Flæten (lead)

Sandra Ketelhake 

+32 (0) 2 626 16 77


This action aims to establish a permanent working group for calibration activities and will propose a future strategic plan towards a permanent, pan-European calibration grid to support the activities of marine observatories. It involves the research community, the National Metrology Institutes (NMIs) and industry from the participating countries. The group had its first major meeting in Brest, France, on 13 October 2016 and is now in the process of developing three factsheets (on pH, salinity, and fluorescence) and one white paper summarizing the challenges and justifying the need for this action. The four documents will help identify the next concrete steps for this action.


This action deals with the only realistic way to achieve these goals, which involves continuous, responsive, and high-quality calibrating activity. Calibration, unlike validation, which can be performed with various ways and methods, requires standardised techniques and specialised equipment.

As it was revealed through the JERICO project activities and in particular Deliverable 4.1 “Report on existing calibration facilities”, very few observatory operators actually maintain dedicated calibration facilities with trained personnel. Thus very often sensors are shipped to manufacturers on regular basis which is neither convenient nor cost efficient. Moreover maintenance intervals have to be planned according to the requirements of each sensor (need for double sets of sensors). Thus transport and calibration costs often have a major contribution on total running costs. Partners operating calibration facilities often face difficulties in maintaining dedicated personnel positions as funding is variable and rather insecure. Although there is significant experience among European research institutes on calibration methods, at present each lab works independently with no or very little connections with other labs.

Therefore, the development of a pan-European calibration grid is proposed. The grid will be open to the whole marine community and in close connection with the national metrological institutes while in order to maximise benefits and minimise costs it can have a 2 level approach separating calibration procedures into primary and secondary. In the first level, labs capable of handling reference calibration procedures will be identified and appointed as Primary Reference Nodes (PRN) where secondary calibration instruments can be calibrated. Level 2 or Secondary Reference Nodes (SRN) will use the secondary reference instruments calibrated at PRN and will be responsible for the calibration of the day-to-day operational sensors around European Waters.


Short term:

  • The homogenisation of practices within the oceanographic community,
  • The dissemination of metrology know-how and practices in institutes and firms,
  • The control of the efficiency for the participants of Inter Laboratory Comparisons,
  • The improvement of the quality system and the metrology practices of participants (eg. thanks to audits)
  • The technological directions to follow for the development of new sensors
  • Relevance to the EU’s IMP, MSFD, WFSD, etc.
  • Relevance and support to a large number of initiatives, such as GOOS, GMES, JCOMM, CLIVAR, MyOcean, SeaDatanet, EuroGOOS, JERICO, JERICO-NEXT, FixO3, EURAMET


Long Term:

Long-term impacts will be the assessment of strategies in terms of exchanges, collaborations, valorization and dissemination:

  • the development of plans to encourage the transition from research to operational support,
  • the consolidation of quality guarantees to help authorities to implement appropriate strategies (standards, recommendations, policies, regulations, ...)
  • set up of a permanent calibration board in charge of the follow-up of this European Calibration network and of the management and sustainability of its impacts.


Europe spends €1.4 billion p.a. for marine data collection: €0.4 billion for satellite data and €1.0 billion for in-situ observations, respectively. In the case of the latter, the traditional and expensive practice of vessel-based data-gathering is progressively giving way to monitoring via “observatories” - complexes of distributed, autonomous, real-time sensor systems. Burgeoning technology and pressing societal needs will soon make such observatories the backbone of European marine observing activity because of their ability to provide copious quantities of diversified data over large areas at reasonable costs. But to be useful for research and decision-making at a transnational level, all the incoming data have to be comparable and amenable to fitness-for-purpose assessments in relation to specific user-group requirements. This will require measurements to be metrologically sound, and instruments to be working within known specifications at all times despite prolonged deployment in harsh conditions.


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