Sea glider collects data from unexplored areas of the Mediterranean

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Sea glider collects data from unexplored areas of the MediterraneanPresenting the sea glider experience in Malta, which is collecting data from previously unexplored areas of the Mediterranean sea.

The latest major physical oceanography research initiative is – Glider South – making use of state-of-the-art data acquisition platforms to study the sea.

The initiative is led by the University of Malta’s Physical Oceanography Research Group (PO-Res. Grp) in collaboration with CNRS-INSU <>(Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique – Institut National des Sciences de l’Univers). This project is coordinated by Prof. Aldo Drago

Autonomous torpedo-like vehicles, underwater gliders have the ability to dive up and down repeatedly in the sea to a depth of 1000m, moving along paths with remote control from a land based station.

The gliders can be used to collect physical and biogeochemical data relevant to the state of health of the sea, at high spatial resolution, for long periods of time, even under adverse meteorological conditions.

The UoM said that the glider communicates with a land station by satellite links every time it surfaces, relaying collected data and receiving instructions remotely for the next dive.

It was deployed close to Malta two months ago and has since then performed transects between the Maltese Islands and the southern Mediterranean shelf. The University said that this area of the Mediterranean Sea is comparatively unexplored. Hydrographic data in this region is very scarce and the project provides pristine data which will help to understand the dynamic phenomena observed in the stretch of sea between Malta and Libya.

The data collected will be used to validate oceanographic models of the area. The PO-Res. Grp is the lead partner in this project, which will further put our marine research capacity on the map as a key contributor in operational oceanography and physical oceanographic endeavours in the Central Mediterranean area.

The Glider South entire mission was supported by the Armed Forces of Malta with boats and crew. For the deployment operation a RHIB launched from the maritime patrol boat was used to slide down the glider into the sea. AFM also assisted to launch a number of drifters that were concurrently used to track sea currents in the area.

This project is supported by the European Commission – H2020 Framework Programme, JERICO NEXT

The sea glider was also employed along a track close to the Maltese islands to demonstrate how adaptive monitoring strategies using remotely controlled unmanned devices provide cost effective methods to routinely collect basic marine data and measure the health of our coastal waters.

There will be a half-day seminar on the 7th of July, at 8:45am, at the Dolmen Resort Hotel Qawra, which will present the sea glider experience in Malta to key stakeholders and interested parties, and will showcase how the new generation of sea gliders offers an innovative aid to observe and monitor the sea areas under local jurisdiction.

The seminar will see the participation of local scientists and two foreign experts, the event provides an avenue to brainstorm the way to the shaping of the operational marine observing system for the Maltese Islands.

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