Sea takes its toll on historic device

The device inside this building was the first to record sea-level in France

The tidal gauge has recorded sea level in France for more than 100 years is in urgent need of repair, operators say

The operators of Marseille's historic tidal gauge, the Marégraphe, which measures sea-level have launched an appeal for much-needed funds to repair the 19th-century mechanism as well as the building that houses it.

The clockwork mechanism Marégraphe, which was installed in the late 19th century, needs to be dismantled, cleaned, repaired and reassembled, while the grilles that surround it are badly corroded after being exposed to sea spray for more than a century.

The device, on corniche Kennedy, was the first device to accurately determine sea level in France. It provided the official measurement for nearly a century before being replaced as the official monitor in the 1980s.

Until recently, the Marseille Marégraphe continued to provide 'valuable data', a spokesman for the l’Institut national de l’information géographique et forestière (IGN) said. But it has now failed, and requires maintenance.

"It is also a safety issue, since we open the Marégraphe twice a year on heritage days," the spokesman said.

Data from the Marégraphe reveals that sea level at that point has risen 16cm since 1890.

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