Introduction of vertical reference level Lowest Astronomical Tide (LAT) in the products of the Netherlands Hydrographic Service

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1 Introduction of vertical reference level Lowest Astronomical Tide (LAT) in the products of the Netherlands Hydrographic Service I.A. Elema, Hydrographic Service of the Royal Netherlands Navy, The Hague/The Netherlands; M.C. Kwanten, Hydrographic Service of the Royal Netherlands Navy, The Hague/The Netherlands; Following international agreements, the Hydrographic Service of the Royal Netherlands Navy is in the process of changing the Chart Datum in its products from Mean Lower Low Water Spring (MLLWS) to Lowest Astronomical Tides (LAT). LAT is in general a level 2 to 3 decimetres below the level of MLLWS. As a result, depths in nautical charts will decrease. Tidal height predictions will increase with the same amount. The transition in the products is expected to take several years. INTRODUCTION The Hydrographic Service of the Royal Netherlands Navy (NLHS), executes hydrographic surveys and publishes nautical charts and other nautical information concerning the Dutch part of the North Sea and adjacent waters as well as the waters surrounding the Netherlands' Antilles and Aruba. The vertical datum used as a reference level in the nautical charts and tables is called Chart Datum. This is a low water level, thus revealing the critical depth for users of the charts. A Chart Datum situated higher than low water results in charted depths that are occasionally larger than the actual depth which in consequence might lead to a false sense of safety. Not every country is using the same level as Chart Datum. Due to the variety in tidal characteristics, a large number of implementations of Chart Datum exist. A Chart Datum is usually related to mean of low ocean surfaces, such as Mean Lower Low Water Spring (MLLWS), Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW), Mean Low Water (MLW), Low Water (LW), Lowest Astronomical Tide (LAT) or Mean Low Water Spring (MLWS). Figure 1, Relation between charted depth and actual depth Tidal predictions in tide tables of hydrographic offices show water heights relative to the same level as used in the corresponding charts. Until recently, all of the NLHS charts referred to Mean Lower Low Water Spring (MLLWS). This is the mean of the lowest water level of a month during a period of 5 years. During average meteorological conditions this MLLWS level is a surface which will seldom result in charted depths that are larger than the actual depths. In other words the value of the height of the tidal wave at any given moment, to be added to the charted depth

2 to calculate the present water depth, is rarely negative. Following international agreements, NLHS charts gradually will be transformed to LAT. LAT is the lowest water level that can occur as a result of the tidal effects of astronomical bodies and the local geographic circumstances. A water level below LAT can only occur due to meteorological circumstances. The LAT level is in general situated below MLLWS. TOWARDS STANDARDISATION OF VERTICAL DATUMS The IHO (International Hydrographic Organisation) and IMO (International Maritime Organisation) already stated in the early 1980 s that states should consider adopting an astronomical level as Chart Datum. Following the IHO Technical Resolution A 2.5 Datums and Benchmarks, the Tidal Working Group of the North Sea Hydrographic Committee proposed during the NSHC-meeting (North Sea Hydrographic Conference) in September 1998 to adopt the Lowest Astronomical Tide (LAT) as Chart Datum as of January 1 st At a later stage this was changed by the NSHC Tidal Working Group into at the earliest practicable opportunity. The transition in The Netherlands from MLLWS to LAT started in the second half of Germany (Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie (BSH)) started the transition in 2005, the UK and France have already adopted LAT and Belgium will follow after The Netherlands. In the near future the whole of the North Sea will be charted with respect to the same vertical datum. This has the advantage that no virtual vertical thresholds have to be passed when neighbouring charts of different hydrographic offices are used. It will take some years to convert all NLHS-products to LAT, because nautical charts are not republished every year. LAT is generally a lower surface than the current Chart Datum referenced to MLLWS in The Netherlands part of the North Sea. This implies that a LAT-related chart in general will show depths that are more shallow than a corresponding MLLWS-based chart. This obviously does not have any consequence for the true depth, since the corresponding tidal heights in the tide tables will increase with the same amount. The differences between MLLWS and LAT depth values can be seen in figure 1. The average difference between MLLWS and LAT is about 2 to 3dm, but can be as large as 5dm near the amphidromic point. In a small area North of IJmuiden the LAT surface is above MLLWS. COMPUTATION The computation of the new LAT reference level has been performed in cooperation with the Netherlands Institute for Marine and Coastal Management (RIKZ) of Rijkswaterstaat. The LAT matrix is based on 3 tidal models of RIKZ. Use has been made of the Dutch Continental Shelf Model and two more detailed models for inland waters like the Waddenzee and Westerschelde. Tidal models contain harmonic constants which are computed from tide gauge measurements, depth measurements and bottom roughness. RIKZ has computed LAT by predicting the tidal heights, for 19 years (the longest tidal period) using the tidal models, and determining the lowest water level in each point of a grid of the area of a model. The LAT values of the three separate tidal models are joined and regularly gridded by means of a linear interpolation by NLHS. The final LAT matrix for use in the production of publications contains differences in

3 decimetres between MSL and LAT for positions in ETRS89. The grid cell size of the LAT matrix is 384m in longitude and 640 metres in latitude. This corresponds with degrees latitude and longitude. The values in the LAT matrix are rounded up. For example if the distance between MSL and LAT is 151cm, the LAT value in that location is 16. LAT has also been computed for places where water levels are measured by permanent tide gauges. LAT values have been derived from these measurements by performing an harmonic analyses. The differences between the model LAT values and the measured LAT values are in the order of 5cm. The precision of the LAT level is expected to be in the order of 10cm. The differences with MLLWS (see figure 2) are between -1dm near IJmuiden (LAT surface is situated higher than MLLWS) and 5dm near the southern amphidromic point (LAT surface is situated lower than MLLWS). The 5dm relatively large difference is caused by the Figure 2, Difference in charted depth due to LAT transition apparent movement of the amphidromic point. The conversion moves it 25 kilometres in north westerly direction, when compared to the amphidromic point of MLLWS. The amphidromic point is defined as the centre of rotation of a tidal wave. In theory there are no vertical tides in an amphidromic point. In practice the amphidromic point represents an area with little vertical tidal movement. The connection between the LAT values of the United Kingdom, Germany and Belgium and the Netherlands are in agreement. The latest MLLWS matrix is the MTX88 matrix from This matrix was visualized in a Reduction sheet High and Low water 1988, which could be obtained from the NLHS. Next to lines with similar reduction values, co-tidal lines of High- and Low Water are presented. The lines are presented on two charts, one chart for High Water and one chart for Low Water. Instead of a paper North Sea reduction chart, the digital matrix for LAT will be implemented in the multi-functional software program PCTrans. This program can be downloaded for free from the website of the NLHS By using this software program, the user has more flexible access to the LAT values than on a paper sheet. It is possible to provide a position for which the program will show the corresponding LAT and MLLWS values. Other, non-tidal, functionalities of the program include datum transformation, direct and indirect geodetic problem calculations and area computations.

4 INTRODUCTION OF LAT IN THE NLHS PRODUCTS The NLHS publishes a range of charts and other nautical publications. NLHS maps the Netherlands part of the North Sea, the sea around the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba and Suriname. Available products are listed in Catalogue HP7. The products have the purpose to serve SOLAS shipping as well as recreational shipping in order to maintain and enhance the safety of shipping. Furthermore half-products, (e.g. coordinates of platform location) derived from files used during the production of official publications, can be obtained. Nautical charts Nautical charts appear on various scales. The vast majority of the Netherlands charts are part of the IHO-INT program. Many charts are made in co-production with our neighbouring countries United Kingdom, Belgium and Germany under bi-lateral agreements. The nautical charts are meant for the international professional shipping and based on the "Chart Specifications of the IHO. These specifications specify format, topography, hydrography, aids to navigation, geographical naming and numbering. The charts need to be corrected by means of Notices to Mariners (NtM), which are published weekly on paper as well on the internet ( As stated above, since the second half of 2006 LAT has been introduced in the products of the NLHS. Paper charts will be converted to LAT from North to South. The first two charts that are published in LAT are charts 1555 en These are charts of the north eastern part of the Netherlands. Second in line are 1456 and 1458 which will be published early New charts are announced in Notices to Mariners. The LAT-matrix is implemented in the databases of NLHS. Firstly, existing depth figures relative to MLLWS are converted to LAT without operator interference. Newly measured depths are inserted in the databases relative to LAT. The two survey vessels of NLHS will be equipped with the LAT matrix in their surveying software. Figuur 3, Survey ship HNLMS Snellius during a recent survey in the Caribbean In figures 4 and 5 the impact of the transition from MLLWS to LAT on depth figures and contours can be seen. The same data are presented relative to MLLWS as well to LAT. The area shown is situated north of the Frisian Island Schiermonnikoog. The figure on the left shows the depths with respect to MLLWS, the figure on the right shows the same area with the same data, but now with respect to LAT. The low water line (0-metre), the 2-metre line and the 5-metre contour line are displayed. The depths in the figure on the right have decreased 3 or 4 decimetres. The patterns of

5 the contour lines have also changed. Also note the change in depth above the two wrecks that are visible in the figures 4 and 5. Figure 4, depths with respect to MLLWS Figure 5, depths with respect to LAT It will take a few years before all nautical charts have been transformed to LAT. The information on the charts will clearify which level is used as the Chart Datum. It is possible that the same area at one chart is shown in LAT and at another chart in MLLWS. For the Netherlands Antilles the tidal range is not significant. A note will be put on the charts to state that the Chart Datum approximates LAT. Suriname will decide when charts of their charting area will change to LAT, since the Netherlands only have a cartographic role in the production of the charts series The 1800-series charts are officially issued nautical charts and serve as SOLAS publications. They cover the sailing routes near the coasts and the larger inland waters. The series contain 8 atlases with an average of 9 loose-leaf charts. See figure 6 for coverage of the Figure 6, coverage of 1800 series

6 series. Yearly new editions of the charts occur. The charts can be corrected by means of NL-NtM s. The conversion of the 1800-series to LAT will take place in two phases. The 1800-series edition 2007 of 1811 and 1812 (of the north- eastern part of The Netherlands) will be published in LAT. The other charts will follow in Tide tables Two tide tables are published by the NLHS. A paper product, HP33, and a digital product HP33D - NLTides. According to IHO publication M3, HP33 is of the category NP1, this means a printed paper publication. HP33D - NLTides is of the category NP2. This means a digital publication based upon existing paper publications. In the future tide tables will be published as a category NP3. This implies a digital dataset(s) fully compatible with ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display and Information System) that serve the purpose otherwise provided by NP1 or NP2. The tide table of HP33 (Tidal Heights Streams along Coastal waters of the Netherlands and adjacent areas, see figure 7) presents the High- and Low Waters and the hourly values in decimetres for 2 Belgian and 15 Figure 7, Frontpage of HP33 Netherlands locations. For the HP33 there will not be a one step transition to LAT. Per year an inventory will be made which locations will appear on LAT referenced charts and which will not. Clear notes will indicate which level is used for the tidal predictions. For each location the difference between LAT and GLLWS will be provided. HP33D NLTides, launched in 2005, provides tidal height predictions for all significant ports from Nieuwpoort in Belgium to List in Germany and streams for the Southern North Sea, the Netherlands part of the Waddenzee, Scheldt, Tidal river area and main port approaches. Compared with the paper HP33, NLTides provides more ports, however the predicted tidal heights for the Netherlands ports Figure 8, prediction of tidal height in HP33D Figure 9, prediction of tidal streams in HP33D

7 and stream information are consistent. NLTides is an annual edition providing tidal predictions valid for that year. The program can perform Port Clearance calculations when information like draught and under-keel allowance of a vessel are provided. NLHS issues the program NLTides as an official equivalent of paper tide tables in accordance with SOLAS V2.2. It may replace traditional paper tide tables provided that appropriate back-up arrangements are available (e.g. print facility or 2nd installed program). In the future, during the transition, a choice can be made to which of the two levels the tidal heights will be referenced in the HP33D. Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC s) ENC s are being produced in the following usage bands: 1) Overview 2) General 3) Coastal 4) Approach 5) Harbour 6) Berthing NLHS is in the process of finishing a complete set of NL-ENC s for the Dutch continental shelf. This process will be finalised in 2007, thus a complete set of ENC s will be available for the area of responsibility of the Netherlands, with the exception of the usage band 6, Berthing. ENC-coverage of the Caribbean waters, which are the charted by NLHS, will follow subsequently. At this moment, it is not required that data of ENC s are defined with respect to LAT. If digital data used in ECDIS (Electronic Charting and Display Information System) are not in LAT, the used Chart Datum must be permanently displayed. When a paper nautical chart is published in LAT, the corresponding ENC-cell will immediately follow. Remaining publications In other publications, information changes as well, due to the introduction of LAT. E.g. wrecks will generally have less vertical clearance in the Wreck register HP39. OTHER CONSEQUENCES OF CHANGING TO LAT In nautical charts a maintained depth is often shown in entrances to harbours. In the Netherlands the maintained depth is stated in a contract between port authorities and a dredging company with respect to Mean Sea Level or Normal Amsterdam Peil (NAP, The Netherlands land levelling system). This means the maintained depth figure in the chart will change, but in the established contract it will remain the same. A change in depth figures implies the low water line (line of 0 metre) will change. A change of the low water line will have its influence on the maritime limits which have to be derived from the low water line, e.g. the 12 nautical miles outer limit which is used in defining the territorial waters. This low water line is also called the normal base line. The differences will be larger near coasts where the sea floor is sloping more gradually, e.g. north of the Frisian Islands. Already established maritime boundaries with neighbouring states will not change, of course. When neighbouring countries without an established maritime boundary are both transited to LAT, simplifies the negotiating process to establish a common boundary. The issue of

8 choosing a common chart datum is not present anymore. There are examples of these kinds of problems, e.g. the maritime boundary between Belgium and France. One problem with computing a maritime boundary by using two different Chart Datums is thus overcome, although most of the maritime boundaries in the North Sea have already been delimited. Having the same Chart Datum all over the North Sea has advantages for the user. No virtual thresholds have to be passed. Also, no negative values of predicted tidal heights in tide tables will appear. Although with MLLWS this was rarely the case.

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