Real time ocean monitoring


in Canada, Science, The environment

Emily Horn in front of Parliament

The Neptune project, being led by the University of Victoria, is quite a considerable undertaking. The first stage of the plan is to make an 800km loop of fibre-optic and electrical cable and use it to connect five living room sized automated underwater data collection systems called ‘nodes.’ These will track fish stocks and undersea earthquakes, while collecting other kinds of data on an ongoing basis. This will be the first cabled ocean observatory with multiple nodes.

Ultimately, the system will expand to include 3000km of powered fibre-optic cable connecting a larger number of nodes, all capable of returning data in real time. Compared with systematic collection of data (go to a spot at set intervals and check what is happening) or sporadic collection (just use whatever data becomes available from whenever people happen to be in a place), real time data allows for different sorts of analysis and more comprehensive evaluations. The nodes will contain instruments including temperature meters, conductivity meters, pressure gauges, acoustic dopplers and hydrophones, current meters, wave sensors, electrometers, seismometers, cameras, nutrient monitors, sample storage containers, and autonomous robots.

The system should offer some useful data on migratory fisheries and whale movements, as well as the ominous rumblings of the Juan de Fuca plate, extending from British Columbia down to Oregon. It will also contribute to a more systematic understanding of ocean geology and ecology in general.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Neal August 24, 2007 at 3:19 pm

It’s because of things like this that I am pleased when people accuse me of “scientism.”

Anon August 31, 2007 at 12:00 am

Science shares with religion the claim that it answers deep questions about
origins, the nature of life, and the cosmos. But there the resemblance ends.
Scientific beliefs are supported by evidence, and they get results. Myths
and faith do not.
— Richard Dawkins, “River Out Of Eden”

. September 10, 2007 at 4:22 pm

‘Bringing the Ocean to the World,’ in High-Def

“In the Northwest, about $130 million of the initiative’s cost is being dedicated to build a regional observatory, a series of underwater cables that will crisscross the tectonic plate named for the explorer Juan de Fuca. Rather than provide an information superhighway that bypasses the ocean, this new network is being put in place to take its pulse. Professor Delaney, whose specialty is underwater volcanoes that form at the seams between tectonic plates and the surprising life those seams support, is among those who have been pursuing the cable network for more than a decade, overcoming hurdles of money, technology and skepticism.”

mark November 4, 2007 at 8:44 pm

This is great stuff. Another quite amazing ocean monitoring system is described here.

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