Diving at altitude: From definition to practice

EGİ S. M. , Pieri M., Marroni A.

UNDERSEA AND HYPERBARIC MEDICINE, vol.41, no.6, pp.495-503, 2014 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 41 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Page Numbers: pp.495-503


Diving above sea level has different motivations for recreational, military, commercial and scientific activities. Despite the apparently wide practice of inland diving, there are three major discrepancies about diving at altitude: threshold elevation that requires changes in sea level procedures; upper altitude limit of the applicability of these modifications; and independent validation of altitude adaptation methods of decompression algorithms. The first problem is solved by converting the normal fluctuation in barometric pressure to an altitude equivalent. Based on the barometric variations recorded from a meteorological center, it is possible to suggest 600 meters as a threshold for classifying a dive as an "altitude" dive. The second problem is solved by proposing the threshold altitude of aviation (2,400 meters) to classify "high" altitude dives. The DAN (Divers Alert Network) Europe diving database (DB) is analyzed to solve the third problem. The database consists of 65,050 dives collected from different dive computers. A total of 1,467 dives were found to be classified as altitude dives. However, by checking the elevation according to the logged geographical coordinates, 1,284 dives were disqualified because the altitude setting had been used as a conservative setting by the dive computer despite the fact that the dive was made at sea level. Furthermore, according to the description put forward in this manuscript, 72 dives were disqualified because the surface level elevation is lower than 600 meters. The number of field data (111 dives) is still very low to use for the validation of any particular method of altitude adaptation concerning decompression algorithms.