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Environmental Monitoring

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July 2014 Issue

USGS Launches iCoast to Identify Coastal Changes
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has launched a new crowdsourcing application called “iCoast – Did the Coast Change?” to show coastal changes from storms during hurricane season. iCoast allows citizen scientists to identify changes to the coast by comparing aerial photographs taken before and after storms. Crowdsourced data from iCoast will help USGS improve predictive models of coastal change and educate the public about the vulnerability of coastal communities to extreme storms.

USGS acquires high-resolution aerial photography after extreme storms and compares them to imagery collected before the storms. These photographs are taken at a low altitude to capture a small area. USGS collects aerial imagery to ground truth and improve probability models.

USGS determines probabilities of hurricane-induced coastal change for the Atlantic and Gulf coasts to better inform evacuation, response, preparedness and mitigation efforts. USGS creates mathematical predictive models from dune elevation and predicted wave action during storms. The human observations will allow the scientists to validate the models and to provide better predictions of damage before storms occur.


WatchKeeper Buoy to Support Uruguay LNG Terminal Project
AXYS Technologies Inc. (Sidney, Canada) is pleased to announce the sale of its 100th WatchKeeper metocean monitoring buoy to Construtora OAS S.A. in Montevideo, Uruguay. OAS will use the WatchKeeper buoy to receive comprehensive environmental data, which will support their LNG terminal construction project in Montevideo. The WatchKeeper will transmit directional waves, a water column current profile, salinity, visibility, air temperature, relative humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind speed and direction, and precipitation. The data will be sent to OAS offices via real-time cellular and radio telemetries.

AXYS commissioned the buoy and provided system training. The buoy was to be deployed by OAS in the spring of 2014.

After use in the design phase of the new LNG terminal, the buoy will be transitioned into an operational role to provide real-time data for terminal operations and navigational purposes.


NOC Orders C-Enduro to Collect Oceanographic Data
The U.K.’s National Oceanography Centre (NOC) has ordered an ASV (Portchester, England) C-Enduro for oceanographic data collection over extended periods of time. Designed to be at sea up to 90 days, C-Enduro is powered by wind power, solar power and a lightweight diesel generator.

C-Enduro was developed under a small business research initiative initiated by NOC’s requirement for a long-endurance USV for environmental research. It was co-funded by the National Environment Research Council, NOC’s parent body, with the Technology Strategy Board and the Defence, Science and Technology Laboratories.


SeaTag-MOD PSATs in use to Study Trout in Lake Superior
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has deployed a number of pop-up satellite tags (PSATs) to study lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) movement in Lake Superior. This is the first large-scale study of any freshwater fish in Lake Superior using PSATs. It came about through use of Desert Star Systems’ (Marina, California) innovative release mechanism that can work in both fresh and saltwater. SeaTag-MOD PSATs will collect data to help shed light on the basis of depth selection and preference among fish, diel vertical migrations and spawning sites.

The SeaTag-MOD will estimate latitude and longitude locations through use of a magnetometer and solar-cell light sensor. In addition, the tag records depth, temperature and acceleration values. On the programmed date, the tag will pop off the fish, float to the surface and transmit its location via satellite. The researchers will then attempt to locate and recover the tag to download the raw sensor recordings. Otherwise, the data will be transmitted through the Argos satellite system.


MX Aquatic Habitat Echosounder to Locate, Map Eelgrass
Dr. Sandy Wyllie-Echeverria of Friday Harbor Laboratories at the University of Washington chose BioSonics (Seattle, Washington) MX Aquatic Habitat Echosounder to locate and map eelgrass (Zostera marina) shoots in Portage Bay on the Lummi Nation Reservation as part of a course she is co-teaching. The class is learning about different methods to remotely sense eelgrass presence and distribution. MX Echosounder also allows for accurate measurement of canopy height, percent coverage, and maximum and minimum depth limits of eelgrass growth.

Students will use GIS software to create a map showing the quantitative distribution of eelgrass. They will incorporate georeferenced aerial photography from three different time periods spanning 13 years. The class will also conduct eelgrass stem density surveys on the tide flats to ground truth data acquired using aerial photography and the MX Echosounder. As a final product, the class will input all data into an Esri (Redlands, California) ArcGIS presentation describing eelgrass distribution patterns at the site.


Finnlines Vessels to get PureSOx Systems for Upcoming ECA
Four Alfa Laval (Lund, Sweden) PureSOx systems have now been ordered by Finnlines (Helsinki, Finland), whose Baltic Sea and North Sea operations will fall within an Emission Control Area (ECA) as of January 2015.

RoRo and Ropax vessels from Finnlines offer services from Finland to Germany, North Sea ports, Spain and via the Åland Islands to Sweden, as well as from Germany to Russia.

“In just a few months, having a scrubber like PureSOx on board will give these vessels an immediate fuel-cost advantage over competitors who switch to distillates,” said René Diks of Alfa Laval.

Alfa Laval will fulfill the Finnlines order in late 2014. The PureSOx systems for all four Finnlines vessels are designed for open-loop operation with seawater, which means they are sized for the low alkalinity of the Baltic Sea.


2014:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV
2013:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC

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