Western Channel Observatory

NERC National Capability of the Plymouth Marine Laboratory and Marine Biological Association

THE DATA POLICY of the NERC National Capability funded Western Channel Observatory is to make the data freely available at the point of delivery. However, we request that prospective data users first contact the points of contact at PML (see data links below) before obtaining the data. They will provide the metadata, the most up to date versions of the data (where available) and most importantly local expertise in how the data can be used. We expect that co-authorship will be offered to relevant PML experts in response to their active collaboration in projects using these data. Any publication or report using these data should acknowledge them as being provided by the Western Channel Observatory.


PML has operated two data buoys at stations L4 and E1 since 2009. Data from our moorings at L4 and E1 is available in real-time when operational.


Zooplankton data have been collected by PML since 1988 at station L4. These include zooplankton species and Calanus egg production data.


Phytoplankton data have been collected by PML since 1992 at station L4. These data are taxonomically identified by microscopy and since 2007 by flow cytometry


Nitrate, nitrite, phosphate, silicate and ammonium nutrient data have been collected since 2000 at station L4. A longer (since 1934), now depth resolved, time-series has been collected at station E1. These data are often available on the day of collection


The depth resolved temperature and salinity time-series at E1, started in 1903, is one of the longest in the world. CTD data is available often on the day of collection from stations L4 and E1. Data also included in these profiles are oxygen, fluorescence and PAR.


Pigment data have been collected at L4 and E1 since 1998 and analysed using HPLC. These data are complemented by chlorophyll-a measurements analysed using a Turner fluorometer since 1992.


Electronic and laboratory based bio-optical measurements have been taken by PML at stations L4 and E1 over the past decade in support of satellite algorithm development work. Measurements include Inherent Optical Properties and radiometry.


CHN analysis has been carried out at L4 since 1992, with the analysis being carried out using a Thermoquest FlashEA 1112 elemental analyzer since 2000.

RV Quest Underway System

The R.V. Plymouth Quest is fitted with an underway suite of sensors, which continuously sample from the vessels non-toxic underway water supply. These data can be downloaded and visualised in Google Earth.

Sunphotometer data

Atmospheric aerosol data have been derived from sunphotometric data at PML since 2001. The Rame Head AERONET measurements made in the late 1990s, have been restarted in 2013

Meteorological data

Standard meteorological parameters are collected every 5 minutes from the roof of the NCI building at Rame Head. An MRR rainfall radar takes data every 10 seconds from the roof of PML; latest hourly and daily data are available.

Modelling data

Modelling data covering the WCO area are available here.

About Us

The WCO is a partnership between the Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the Marine Biological Association.

How are we funded?

The core work of the WCO is funded as part of the UK Natural Environment Research Council's National Capability.

Contact Information

For more details about the WCO please contact:

Dr Tim Smyth
Western Channel Observatory
Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Prospect Place
email: tjsm@pml.ac.uk