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Marine Electronics

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March 2012 Issue

Scripps, NOAA, SubCom Partner On Cabled Sensor Deployment
The Scripps Institution of Oceanography, NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and TE SubCom (Morristown, New Jersey) announced in February they are in initial discussion stages to integrate scientific instruments, such as seismometers, pressure gauges and comprehensive climate sensors (e.g., acoustic tomography and water column temperature and conductivity), on fiber-optic communications cables stretching thousands of miles along the Pacific Ocean floor. These cables can transmit data at a maximum of 40 gigabits per second.

The upgrades would improve scientists’ ability to observe and study ocean processes, enable early alerts for potential disasters and study the geodynamics of deep-Earth. The data collected would be available to the scientific community around the world. The project represents the first instance of scientific sensors being deployed on a commercial telecommunication company’s cable installations.

The initial project would run along a 12,950-kilometer cable route from Sydney, Australia, to Auckland, New Zealand, and across the Pacific to Los Angeles, California. Possible instruments include seismometers, pressure gauges and temperature sensors for hazard warning and mitigation.

The exploratory partnership is seeking funding for engineering and operations, as well as examining new approaches to gather high-bandwidth data from the seafloor. Initial funding could go toward deploying sensors on future cables at 75-kilometer intervals to enable NOAA scientists to measure the size and direction of tsunamis crossing the ocean and quickly alert disaster management officials and first responders. For more information visit scrippsnews.ucsd.edu.


Seagliders Profile Wall of Water In East Australian Current Eddies
By deploying deep-ocean autonomous gliders, oceanographers from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and CSIRO have profiled a 200-meter-tall, 40-kilometer-wide wall of water at the core of ocean eddies formed from the East Australian Current.

In January, CSIRO scientists and technicians retrieved one of three Seagliders, developed by the University of Washington and modified by iRobot (Bedford, Massachusetts). The glider was working in southeast Australia after five months crisscrossing the East Australian Current, the agency announced in February.

The gliders let scientists examine the eddies that affect the conditions of the ocean and its food chain. Their findings have been published in a study in Geophysical Research Letters.

The Seagliders, depth-rated to 1,000 meters, are equipped with a Sea-Bird Electronics Inc. (Bellevue, Washing­ton) CTD sensor, WET Labs (Philo­math, Oregon) BBFL2VMT 3-parameter optical sensor for measuring chlorophyll-a, colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) and 660-nanometer backscatter and a Sea-Bird oxygen sensor.

The gliders traveled up to 250 kilometers east of Tasmania, making eight crossings of the East Australian current and measuring salinity and temperature to 1,000-meters depth. The water from the Bass Strait “amazingly remains undiluted as it travels hundreds of kilometers,” said UTS scientist and study author Mark Baird.

“At least some of this Bass Strait water makes the journey past southern Tasmania and possibly thousands of kilometers into the Indian Ocean,” CSIRO scientist Ken Ridgway said. “Further measurements show that at least some of this Bass Strait water makes the journey past southern Tasmania and possibly thousands of kilometers into the Indian Ocean.” For more information visit csiro.au.


Wave Hub Chooses OE Buoy
Ocean Energy Ltd. (Cobh, Ireland) has been chosen to supply its €9 million OE Buoy to Wave Hub, an offshore grid for testing wave energy machines in Cornwall, England.

Ocean Energy partnered with Dresser-Rand (Houston, Texas), which developed the HydroAir turbine, a variable radius, corrosion-resistant turbine that uses a combination of stainless steel, aluminum and reinforced composites. Equipped with HydroAir, the OE Buoy could generate energy for up to 1,200 homes.

The OE Buoy functions on the oscillating water-column principle, with continuous turbine rotation. Electricity is generated when waves entering a subsea chamber force air through a turbine on the surface. The receding waves then create a vacuum, which sucks air back through the turbine. Maintenance costs are minimized because the OE Buoy only has one moving part.

Deployment is scheduled to take place by the end of the year. Wave Hub will fund deployment costs, including the costs of securing a marine license and the installation of moorings, up to €1.2 million. For more information visit www.oceanenergy.ie.


FlowCAM Takes Offshore Photos Without Operator Intervention
Battelle (Columbus, Ohio) and Fluid Imaging Technologies (Yarmouth, Maine) announced in February the completion of a successful demonstration of the Submersible FlowCAM, deployed from a dock at Battelle’s materials research facility in Ponce Inlet, Florida. The test showed that the device’s biofouling control technology allows it to collect images of plankton and abundance data for more than five weeks without operator intervention.

The two companies partnered to design and build the Submersible FlowCAM to identify and measure an array of microscopic plankton and other organisms and particles in salt- and freshwater.

The Submersible FlowCAM can take 22 digital photos per second and transmit data to researchers. It has a capillary flow cell and biofouling control technology that keeps its optical components clean for several weeks.

The Submersible FlowCAM is based on Fluid Imaging Technologies’ laboratory and portable devices for environmental monitoring and quality control in the pharmaceutical, chemical and plastics industries. It is depth-rated to 200 meters and can be attached to a stationary, underwater mount or moorings; deployed as a profiling instrument with standard water-sampling equipment; carried in the payload bays of underwater robots; or towed.

The device could be useful for dealing with problems such as red tide or algae blooms, the companies said. For more information visit www.fluidimaging.com.


2013:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC
2012:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC

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Sea Technology is read worldwide in more than 110 countries by management, engineers, scientists and technical personnel working in industry, government and educational research institutions. Readers are involved with oceanographic research, fisheries management, offshore oil and gas exploration and production, undersea defense including antisubmarine warfare, ocean mining and commercial diving.