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IMCA publishes guidelines on the use of GNSS for tide calculations

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08 June 2021

The International Marine Contractors Association’s (IMCA) newly published ‘Guidelines on the use of GNSS for tide calculations’ (IMCA S 027) provides an overview of how Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) can assist in more accurate real-time direct measurement of tidal changes.

Nick Hough, IMCA’s Technical Adviser – Offshore Survey said: "As with horizontal positioning, vertical positioning is referenced to specified datums. Unlike land surveying, where vertical measurements (elevations) are made to and from a known, fixed position, vertical measurements offshore (depths) are taken against a moving dynamic surface.

"All absolute depths recorded from survey activities need to be adjusted for tide and reduced to a known constant vertical datum such as Mean Sea Level (MSL) or Lowest Astronomical Tide (LAT). The effect of tides will result in depth differences at different times of the day, and at the same times on different days. 

"Advances in GNSS technology enable accurate and consistent calculation of height above a known datum, which means reliance on tide gauges or tide prediction tables is no longer necessary.”

IMCA S 027 includes sections on tide theory; geodetic reference systems and tidal datums; tides from GNSS; quality assurance and quality control; as well as a useful glossary, plus references and a list of further reading which includes the recently revised IMCA S 015 - ‘Guidelines for GNSS positioning in the Oil and Gas industry’ produced with IOGP. IMCA S 027 is available for IMCA members to download free of charge at www.imca-int.com/store/digital-publications/survey/.

Nick Hough, IMCA’s Technical Adviser – Offshore Survey
IMCA publishes guidelines on the use of GNSS for tide calculations