A new player has joined the ocean science community in Sweden: VOTO – Voice Of The Ocean. SCOOT is of course delighted that VOTO is a strong believer in automated methods of observations. VOTO has already a fleet of six ocean robots: 4 diving SeaExplorers by Alsemar and 2 surface going Sailbuoys by Offshore Sensing. SCOOT’s director Seb Swart and his team joined VOTO’s SeaExplorer course, read their report!
The image above shows our autonomous surface vessel SB Kringla being retrieved after the first of two magnificent field seasons. Now she will be upgraded with both an acoustic sensor for measuring currents and an alternative “high wind” sail.
The new sensor will be a Doppler Current Profiler by Aanderaa AS, measuring from the surface down to 30 -50 meters (depending on conditions). SCOOT is proud to be an early adopter of this sensor on an autonomous platform. Measuring the currents in the ocean surface layer can for example tell interesting things about air-sea interaction and the transfer of wind energy to the ocean, especially together with surface wind data, which SB Kringla is already measuring. The new sail is slightly smaller and more optimised for the high wind conditions in the Southern Ocean. Sails are easily switched between deployments. The upgrade (sensor and sail) will be done by Sailbuoy’s manufacturer, Offshore Sensing AS in Norway.
The Doppler Current Profiler will be used, among other applications, to further enhance our understanding of the role of vertical shear mixing in the S Ocean, which was hypothesised in a recent publication in Geophysical Research Letters, using data from SB Kringla: “Submesoscale Fronts in the Antarctic Marginal Ice Zone and Their Response to Wind Forcing”.
SB Kringla is the first Sailbuoy to be deployed on the Southern hemisphere. SCOOT’s director Sebastiaan Swart often refers to her as “the cute one”, which does not imply that she is spared in any way! Kringla has repeatedly earned battle scars and proven herself as an ultra robust platform in the harshest conditions of the Southern Ocean (see posts from first season and second season). Data from SB Kringla (and the diving Seaglider robots) can be viewed at the website of the project Robotic Observations and Modelling of the Marginal Ice Zone.
The upper video shows a snapshot of SB Kringla during first operator training in Gothenburg. The lower video shows a Sailbuoy battling a storm on the North Sea.
Louise Biddle summarizes the Austral winter-spring season for this robotics heavy project:
The ROAM-MIZ (Robotic Observations And Modelling in the Marginal Ice Zone) project aims to capture high resolution observations of how the upper ocean near and under sea ice responds to sea ice growth or melt. The team, led by SCOOT’s director Sebastiaan Swart at the University of Gothenburg, deployed multiple platforms in, and at the edge of, the marginal ice zone in austral winter and spring 2019. Using the South African icebreaker, the SA Agulhas II, as a deployment platform, three profiling ocean gliders (Seagliders), a surface glider (Offshore Sensing Sailbuoy), multiple wave-recording surface floats (SWIFT buoys) and two ice-moored buoys were deployed between 56-60°S. Between the 10 platforms, over 370 days of data were collected from this remote and under-sampled region of the Southern Ocean, with the longest continuous time-series of over 130 days.
The challenges that the deployment team and platforms faced included rapid freezing up of sensors in temperatures that dropped to minus 20°C (before wind chill), rough seas and rapid movement of sea ice floes. With support from collaborators around the world including CSIR (South Africa), CalTech (USA) and University of East Anglia (UK), this project has demonstrated that autonomous instrumentation holds the capability to explore and monitor some of the most inaccessible oceans on Earth. Data is now being processed by the team based at the University of Gothenburg, with the “live data” viewable on roammiz.com and the first paper recently published in Geophysical Research Letters. Projects update can be followed on @PolarGliders .
Paper: Swart, S., du Plessis, M. D., Thompson, A. F., Biddle, L. C., Giddy, I., Linders, T., et al. ( 2020). Submesoscale fronts in the
Antarctic marginal ice zone and their response to wind forcing. Geophysical Research Letters, 47, e2019GL086649.
Do you want to learn and test what/where/how autonomous platforms can measure in the ocean. Do you already have experience and want to meet other experts? This is the workshop for you! More info about available resources and schedule here.
SCOOT’s fleet of autonomous vessels and robots will be available, together with support vessels, technicians and experts. Specifically this includes SCOOT’s flagrobot, the AUV Ran. SCOOT is proud of the coverage Ran’s achievements has got in media, e.g. in Roling Stone, Public Radio International and Swedish public service television.
Our host for this workshop is Institute of Marine Research, belonging to Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).
Please contact us if you interested in participating!
What is a drone? Most people imagine something flying, but to the Swedish innovation agency Vinnova, a drone can just as well be vehicle on or under water. SCOOT takes advantage of this wide definition to take part in Vinnova’s programme “Drones of the future”. SCOOT will demonstrate autonomous launch and recovery of the unmanned 60 kg Sailbuoy (Offshore Sensing AS) by the unmanned 500 kg SP SeaCat (SP Marine Tech).
The demonstration is part of Drone Center Sweden’s demo days on May 14th – 15th in Västervik, South-eastern Sweden. The SCOOT demo is part of the water session on the afternoon on the 14th. Even in the water session, we will be the only project demonstrating drones actually on the water… The project is a collaboration between University of Gothenburg, Research Institutes of Sweden Chalmers, University of Technology, Alkit Communications AB, SP Marine Tech AB, Depåservice AB.
“Robots giving YOU data from the ocean”
On May the 8th we open the SCOOT doors at Nya Varvet in Gothenburg, to anyone interested in the ocean, data from the ocean and methods for collecting ocean data. Come and meet the researchers and the robots! Most of all, come and tell us about your ideas: SCOOT wants to support your innovation. Read the full program. SCOOT open is part of #gbgtechweek and #EUinmyregion.
On March 1st University of Gothenburg’s surface glider SB Kringla was successfully retrieved to the South African icebreaker SA Agulhas II. For 78 days she has relentlessly battled the waves in the Marginal Ice Zone along the Greenwich meridian, see graph below. SB Kringla is the first Offshore Sensíng Sailbuoy to be deployed and retrieved on the southern hemisphere. She has measured ocean surface temperature and salinity, together with surface wind, temperature and pressure in the atmosphere. Data from SB Kringla as well as from diving Seagliders can be viewed at ROAM-MIZ. Do you have ideas about surface gliders or diving gliders? Contact us.
We are suspecting that SB Kringla has encountered an iceberg during the mission. It is likely this happened on February 7 when the weather station started to fail. On retrieval we could see that the sensor head of weather station was cracked and that there were substantial damage to the sail. Amazingly she had continued, with no apparent effect on sailing performance!
SCOOT director Sebastiaan Swart leads the major research project ROAM-MIZ, using sensors mounted on ocean robots/drones to investigate the marginal ice zone in the Southern Ocean. Information and near-real-time output from the sensors are available at the project website. The drones currently operating in the Southern Ocean include the diving (to 1000 m depth) Seaglider and the surface glider Sailbuoy, both available pro bono in the SCOOT offer to entrepreneurs, SMEs and researchers. Interested? Contact us!