National Network of Regional Coastal Monitoring Programmes

A number of map viewer layers are now available as a Web Map Service (WMS) in ArcMap and QGIS. WMS layers request georeferenced images from a server and display them, but do not download or store the data they are displaying on the computer. This means you can use data directly in a GIS and overlay it with your own data, without having to download individual tiles first. All that is needed is an internet connection and an account on the CCO website (create an account here).

Note that "Image" is the key word here; the data are viewable (and even query-able with the QGIS and ArcGis identify tools) but it is not possible to change the symbology or use the layers for calculations. For image analysis, raster analysis, creating difference models etc., you would still need to download the data from the map viewer first.

Figure 1: Locally stored profiles overlaid on 2013 aerial, lidar and bathymetry WMS layers in ArcMap. Bathymetry depth queried.

The following datasets are available as a WMS:

  • Ortho-rectified aerial photography (RGB and FCIR)
  • Lidar
  • Swath (multibeam) bathymetry
  • Habitat mapping (for areas where OS MasterMap was not used to map habitats, for copyright reasons)
  • GPS control points
  • Wave buoys and tide gauges
  • OSGB Grid

The aerial, lidar and swath bathymetry layers consist of 3 sub-layers that are grouped per year: an index layer, a large scale layer and a small scale layer. Their visibility depends on the scale they are being viewed at, just like on the website. The wave buoy, tide gauge and GPS control points can be queried with identify tools in QGIS and ArcMap to display real-time data.

Figure 2: Herne Bay real-time page in QGIS identify results.

To access the WMS layers in ArcMap, use "Add data" as you would for a normal layer, scroll down to "GIS Servers" and choose "Add WMS Server". Copy the following URL in the URL box:
and click "Get Layers". In the User/Password boxes, type your user name (this is the email address you have registered with - it's case sensitive so use the exact address that you signed up to the website with) and password. Leave the "Save Password" box unchecked and click OK. Now the CCO server will have been added to the GIS servers list. Then use "Add data" as normal, scroll down to "GIS Servers" and double click the "Channel Coastal Observatory on" server. You can add all the available layers as one layer tree by highlighting "Channel Coastal Observatory" and clicking "Add". By default ArcMap will make the first 10 layers in the tree visible.

To add individual layers, double click through the WMS tree in the "Add Data" window and select the layer you're interested in. To add individual years of aerial photography, hydrographic data and lidar, highlight the year you're interested in and click "Add" rather than the three layers sitting under the year. To make the "No Data" areas of the loaded WMS layers transparent, open the layer properties of the root WMS layer (called "Channel Coastal Observatory") and go to the "Advanced" tab. Make sure the "Make the background color transparent" box is ticked and change the background colour to "Arctic White".

Figure 3: Select Arctic White as the background colour to be made transparent..

To access the WMS layers in QGIS, a sample project file can be downloaded from the "All Regions" > "Resources" section of the Reports page which has aerial (RGB), multibeam and lidar layers set up. The project file will ask for your user name and password when opened. Alternatively, individual layers can be added by using the "Add WMS/WMTS" tool. Click New and choose a name to display for the WMS. Copy
in the URL box, fill out the User name box (the email address you have registered to the website with) and hit OK (leave Password blank). Choose the name you have picked from the layers dropdown list and click connect. Choose the layers you want to add. Choose "PNG image encoding" to make the background of each layer transparent.

To access the WMS layers in ArcGIS Online, add the following resource as a new WMS (OGC) item to My Content:
After entering the URL you will be offered an opportunity to select WMS layers for visualisation. You can then visualize selected layers on the map by clicking “Open in Map Viewer “ on the resource properties page.

If you publish any maps using the WMS layers, please acknowledge the appropriate copyright owner and Regional Coastal Monitoring Programme. We hope you will find this facility useful, please "Send feedback" or tweet @channelcoast to tell us how you're using the WMS layers.

You can download the QGIS project file.