In order to address the issue of sea-level change along the French coast, and to contribute to the regional and world observation system, eight fields of activity have been identified :
Collect and archive the observations made by the different stations (currently this activity corresponds to a mission entrusted to SHOM, cf. Instruction du Premier Ministre du 20 avril 2010); make the data available in a practical way using a single system. A section on the history of heritage conservation, in some cases spanning more than a century, is also planned given that this is of great potential interest to scientists in the current context of climate change.
Verify the quality of the observations, and the performance of the instruments in the field; provide additional measurements that are needed for them to become useful, for example in geodesy (GPS, absolute gravimetry etc.) in the estimation of the geodetic stability of the sites.
In response to a specific demand made by the world programme GLOSS, elaborate specific products based on the observations, particularly the mean monthly and annual levels for the international service PSMSL, and the vertical movements of tide gauges in a geocentric bench mark for IGS.
Ensure that the service is run and developed in a manner that meets the needs of the users, while taking into account the technical constraints of the computing equipment and the needs of the data producers.
Encourage and support research and development based on the observations; conduct our own analyses both on the metrology of sea-level and the scientific exploitation of the data.
Perform data analyses and publish the scientific results.
Promote the exchange of information between producers and users; share the technical know-how, particularly in the current context of emerging territorial networks; participate in the meetings of the international programs to ensure a full integration of the French in these programs.
The coordination role for tide gauges has now been entrusted to SHOM (cf. Instruction du Premier Ministre du 20 avril 2010). SONEL will favour contacts with researchers and provide help with the scientific applications.