Since November 2013, Irstea researchers and partners have free access to the hydrological database of 8 Institute observatories in operation.
Since the 1960s, Irstea has been collecting hydrological and biogeochemical data in a dozen field observatories - some of which are now closed. Precipitation, the height and flow of the waterway, groundwater levels, the flow of suspended solids, quality measures: these reliable and long-term data sources feed into the research projects carried out by the Institute and its partners, the databases of national hydrometric networks, and local authorities, etc. Prior to this, each observatory used to separately archive and provide access to this data.
Since 2011 Irstea has been gathering this data together for long-term storage in the Hydrologic Observatory Database (BDOH), accessible via a dedicated website. The data are freely available in the form of summaries or graphs accessible through a search engine. Researchers and selected operational partners (government departments, local authorities, companies under research agreements) can download the data for free. "The long-awaited opening of this database will allow faster and easier access to our hydrological data", explains Flora Branger from Irstea.
Approximately 50 users have already registered: 60 % Irstea researchers, 15 % external researchers (who in general belong to laboratories connected to the observatories) and around 25 % partners. Ultimately, 100-200 people are expected use the database. Its creation was also an opportunity to develop optimized management tools aimed at helping the technicians who provide the readings.
What is this data used for ? Data from the Oracle Observatory, for example, relate to a watershed located east of Paris which has been monitored since 1962 ; they allow changes in the watershed's long-term behaviour to be tracked and fed into the French national river database. Data from the Rhone Sediment Observatory (RSO), recently opened in 2009, allow the compilation of logs, e.g. for a year or a specific flood, to determine the flow of suspended particles or contaminants (metals, PCBs, etc.) in the river as part of national and European research programs.
All data and BDOH website features will be expanded this summer. A mapping interface will then be provided.