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Coping with COVID-19: Gauging sea level rise in Karachi

Date: 21 December 2020

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, UNESCO together with the UK National Oceanography Centre enabled Pakistan to repair the Karachi tide gauge, key instrument to monitoring sea level data for Pakistan and the region.

In operation for over 15 years, the Karachi gauge provides valuable sea level data from an under-sampled region of the world to the Global Sea Level Observing System (GLOSS), coordinated by the IOC. The gauge’s operation was interrupted for a short period during 2019 and 2020, due to hardware failures.

Support from UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and from the UK National Oceanography Centre enabled the Pakistan Hydrographic Department to carry out all the necessary repairs to the Karachi tide gauge despite severe COVID-19 restrictions in place, assuring a continuous monitoring of tides and flow of sea level data for national, regional and global sea level rise modelling.

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The GLOSS Karachi Tide Gauge was originally installed in 2005 by the Pakistan Hydrographic Department with the help of the UK National Oceanography Centre (NOC), and consists of several sensors, which included the first commercial sea level radar sensor, the Kalesto, manufactured by OTT HydroMet.

In addition to the one-minute sea level data being stored locally for use by the Hydrographic Department, the data collected by the gauge is also transmitted at 15-minute intervals, using a constellation of Meteorological satellites of the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT).

With the help of the IOC Sea Level Station Monitoring Facility, this data is then displayed and archived for access by the wider scientific sea level community and the operational Tsunami Service Providers (TSPs) for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWMS).

Around 2009, the gauge became part of the IOC/UNESCO’s ODINAFRICA project, where additional funds were made available for support and maintenance. Unfortunately, this operation was interrupted for a short period during 2019 and 2020, due to hardware failures.

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For more information, please contact:

Bernardo Aliaga, Head (a.i.) of the Tsunami Unit (b.aliaga@unesco.org)