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Uncrewed and autonomous platforms – but not robots!

Tagging elephant seals with sensors gives unique data from the ocean around Antarctica

At SCOOT we are enthusiastic about using robotics for collecting ocean data. The reason is simple: Sensors mounted on crewed platforms (ships) will never manage to increase the amount of data needed to observe and understand our oceans.

However, an uncrewed platform does not have to be a robot – it can also be an animal! SCOOT’s Louise Biddle and Sebastiaan Swart show in a recent research paper in Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans what wonderful friends ocean scientists can have in elephant seals, even though these heavy beasts are not famed for their friendliness when approached…

Biddle & Swart investigate climate critical processes in the marginal ice zone around Antarctica, where the ice cover is advancing and retreating seasonally. This is a region where the lack of data is especially severe. Small sensors attached to elephant seals provided Biddle & Swart with ocean data down to 500 meter depth, including locations covered by floating sea ice. The data was retrieved by direct communication with the sensors over satellite.

For anyone feeling that the paper by Biddle & Swart is to heavy, The New York Times picked up this fascinating research in an article, doing a good job at explaining some of the scientific concepts.

We should point out that all scientific work with animals, not least mammals, is strictly regulated. The elephant seals are not harmed or effected negatively by the attached instruments.

AUV Ran cooperates with start-up company Marflow AB

SCOOT’s flagrobot AUV Ran is one busy two-tonne-piece of equipment. From the Southern Ocean to the Baltic Sea, and later this year off to New Zeeland. However, last month a window of availability opened… Startup company Marflow AB with founders Erik Nordborg and Glenn Hederot jumped on this opportunity.

Erik explains:

“Marflow aims to investigate and map ocean currents with very high accuracy. Precise measurements of the oceanic conditions in both time and space are valuable to us but indeed difficult to achieve in reality. AUV Ran will however allow us to do just that, studying ocean currents along with numerous other parameters with a spatial coverage that we have not been able to do before.”

“Marflow are very excited and happy for this opportunity to try AUV Ran and to discover what we can actually achieve with a tool like this. Before launching, Anna Wåhlin helped us setting up a course for Ran to follow. It was really impressive seeing AUV Ran navigating so accurately along this predefined route in relatively confined waters –all the time logging valuable data.”

Staff from MMT Sweden AB, attending to AUV Ran onboard (old) R/V Skagerak.
Evening work on AUV Ran, in between missions outside Härnösand, Sweden.
AUV Ran surfacing after mission, switching on light and releasing nose cone to facilitate recover. Outside Härnösand, Sweden.

Research engineer from Moscow wins the Killer Shrimp Invasion Challenge!

In March the Killer Shrimp Invasion Challenge was opened on Kaggle by Ocean Data Factory Sweden (coordinated by SCOOT): Use innovative machine learning (ML) solutions to predict the spread of the so-called “Killer Shrimp” (Dikerogammarus Villosus) into the Baltic Sea. The challenge is now closed , the referees have completed the evaluation and announced that the winner is…

Dimitriy, research engineer at IBRAE RAS in Moscow, Russia! Dimitriy nicked the winner’s place with a score of 0.99954 (out of a maximum possible 1) and by complying to all rules. Dimitry will be presenting his model in an open webinar on June 16th, see below:

The Benefits and Challenges of Open Innovation and Citizen Science for Solving Ocean Challenges through Applying ML to Ocean Data

Join us on June 16th for a Zoom discussion (Please register here):

  • 15:30 to 15:40 Introduction to Ocean Data Factory Sweden and afternoon discussion
  • 15:40 to 16:10 The Killer Shrimp Invasion Challenge on Kaggle: An online competition tackling the spread of invasive marine species through machine learning
  • 16:10 to 16.20 Break
  • 16.20 to 16.50 The Koster Seafloor Observatory on Zooniverse (still open to join!): Using citizen science and machine learning to annotate subsea imagery
  • 16.50 to 17.00 Concluding remarks

ROAM-MIZ successfully deploys a fleet of autonomous technology to observe small-scale processes in the Antarctic sea ice

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 .

Project website: www.roammiz.com

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.  https://doi.org/10.1029/2019GL086649

Twitter: @PolarGliders

Join the Killer Shrimp Invasion Challenge!

Ocean Data Factory Sweden (coordinated by SCOOT) releases an open challenge: Use innovative machine learning (ML) solutions to predict the spread of the so-called “Killer Shrimp” (Dikerogammarus Villosus) into the Baltic Sea. Join the Killer Shrimp Invasion Challenge online on Kaggle!

Are you

  • a data scientist interested in applying your knowledge to environmental challenges?
  • a marine scientist interested in using Machine Learning in your work?
  • generally passionate about the ocean and keen to learn more about Machine Learning and Marine Science?

Then this is the right challenge for you! The winner of this competition will be awarded a €150 prize, along with the opportunity to present their winning model at the next ODF Sweden Grand Meeting. The event will be in the beautiful city of Gothenburg in June 2020 (date tba).

Join ODF Sweden in the The Koster seafloor observatory!

Ocean Data Factory Sweden (coordinated by SCOOT) is now stepping into a truly demanding territory: Automated species recognition in subsea images. See the promo video and join the The Koster seafloor observatory online on Zooniverse!
 

About The Koster seafloor observatory

At the Koster seafloor observatory we want to know how climate change and human activities influence Sweden’s marine ecosystems.

For the last 20 years, we have used Remotely Operated Vehicles and cameras to monitor the Kosterhavets National Park (click images above for example videos!). A highly-diverse and unique marine reserve in the south of Sweden. Now, we need your help identifying the habitat, species, and presence of litter recorded in over 3,000 hours of underwater videos.

Your answers will allow us to filter out crucial information from the recordings and study how the fauna on the sea floor has changed in response to warmer waters, fishing activities, and changes in environmental protection.

Submerge yourself among large sponges, starfish, and cold-water corals to help us understand the health of the Koster’s sea floor and how we can better protect it.

Words from project owner Victor Valdes

The researcher

“We are excited to bring you a new way to dive into Sweden’s first marine national park. By classifying the underwater videos you will explore our unique marine biodiversity and enable us to better understand the health of Sweden’s marine ecosystems.” 

Learn more!

ODF Sweden supports Baltic Seabird AI/UX Hackathon

Ocean Data Factory Sweden (coordinated by SCOOT) will support the AI/UX Hackathon about the Baltic Sea Guillemots (“Sillgrisslor”), taking place on November 21-22 in Gothenburg. ODF Sweden will be in the Hackathon jury and our partner SMHI will deliver local oceanographic data.

The Guillemots are fascinating seabirds high up in the food chain. They can tell us a lot about the state of the fish and the rest of the Baltic Sea ecosystem. Gathering and annotating data is a heavy task for the scientists of the Baltic Seabird Project. In last year’s trial, huge leaps were made with the help of citizen science. The live stream hosted by WWF produced some 1300+ comments and insights. With the use of AI, recognition of individuals and frequent events could be automated, leaving the extra-ordinary and rarer observations to researchers and citizen science. 

Register and more info here. Deadline for registration is November 7.

Mission completed: First Sailbuoy on the southern hemisphere

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.

Selected data output (Wind direction and latitude) from SB Kringla during the mission Dec 17, 2018 – March 1, 2019. Note the failing weather station on Feb 7.

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!

SB Kringla (Offshore Sensing Sailbuoy) being retrieved after a 2.5 month mission in the Souther Ocean.
Damage to the sail of SB Kringla (Offshore Sensing Sailbuoy) during mission in the Southern Ocean. Iceberg collision?

AUV Ran in the headlines

If you are first to go under the under Antarctic ”doomsday glacier” (and making it back!), you will get headlines. SCOOT’s flag robot, AUV Ran, together with professor Anna Wåhlin and her team feature both in rock ‘n’ roll magazine Rolling Stone and in a radio show from PRI’s The World. Links:

As always, SCOOT wants to put hardware and data in the hands of people with ideas. Interested in AUV Ran? Please contact us. She will be back from Southern Ocean in time for hands on workshop 17 – 20 June on Bornö at the west coast of Sweden.


University of Gothenburg oceanographer Anna Wåhlin, director of the Hugin project, waits on the bridge of the Nathaniel B. Palmer for the Hugin submarine to surface in icy seas near the face of Thwaites Glacier.
Credit: Carolyn Beeler/The World

First voyage under Antarctic ”doomsday glacier”

What an achievement! Professor and Scoot board member Anna Wåhlin (bottom left in photo) tweets: “OMG we did it – we went under Thwaites ice shelf!! We have water samples, bathymetry and ocean physics from underneath the 300-500 M thick ”doomsday glacier”. The Swedish AUV Ran was first. So so proud of our team!!” More about this on GU web.

Now the really interesting part. If you are an entrepreneur, innovator or researcher with ideas about measurements in the ocean or data from the ocean, Scoot makes the AUV Ran available for YOU. Interested? 1) Contact us, 2) meet us at Scoot open house, 8 May at Nya Varvet in Gothenburg, 3) join us for a hands on workshop at the classic oceanographic station on Bornö in the Gullmarn fjord, 17 – 20 June.