Focus on sea-level observation during expert round tables at UNESCO Headquarters


CC BY 2.0 by Gareth Thompson

Monitoring sea-level trends, prediction of tides, implementation of tsunami warning systems, coastal management – none of these would be possible without observation. From 2 to 4 February 2016, the second session of the REFMAR Days will bring together about 150 French and Francophone scientific experts and researchers at UNESCO Headquarters to discuss sea-level science, observations and applications.

The REFMAR Days provide an opportunity for sea-level scientists, network operators and users to discuss and share experiences concerning sea-level observations in support of science, coastal planning and decision-making.

Each day will focus on a different theme. 2 February will be dedicated to “sea-level observation in support of research”; 3 February to “storm surges and extreme sea-level events”; and 4 February to “understanding long-term changes in sea-level”. The last two days will end with panel discussions moderated by Anne-Cécile Bras, environmental journalist at Radio France International.

The role of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO in facilitating observation and data exchange will be highlighted through the interventions of Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary, at the opening on 2 February, and Thorkild Aarup, Technical Secretary for the Global Sea Level Observing System (GLOSS), on 4 February afternoon. This will also include reference to IOC’s global programmes for ocean observations and Tsunami Early Warnings and their contributions to ocean science and assessments.

Scientists and operational users from some 20 Francophone countries, of which 11 are from Africa, will also speak.

Following the 2015 Paris Climate Conference and the first ever mention of the ocean in the preamble of the agreement, the REFMAR Days will help to keep the momentum going by being a COP21-labelled event, in addition to contributing to COP21 initiatives and notably the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS). The CREWS initiative aims to significantly increase the capacity for Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems by 2020 in more than 50 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

The three-day symposium – which will be conducted in French – is co-organized by SHOM, the French Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service; IOC; the French Geological Survey (BRGM); and the French Ministry of Ecology. SHOM is a member of the Ocean and Climate Platform, launched in June 2014 at UNESCO Headquarters and of which IOC is a cofounder. It seeks to bring the ocean to the forefront of climate talks by increasing public awareness about the ocean’s importance in the global climate system.

The first session of the REFMAR Days took place in June 2013, also with IOC’s participation.


More information available at

Follow the event on Twitter via #Refmar