29 September 2014 (Reference: 7-14)
Cefas' cutting edge Wave Glider "Lyra" was launched successfully from St Ives today.
Lyra (resembling a three metre long kayak, but packed full of the latest technology) is a US-manufactured Wave Glider SV3 and is one of just two currently in the UK. She will take two days to sail unmanned to the Isles of Scilly, where she will join other autonomous vehicles to take part in an exciting project bringing together the UK's leading marine science organisations.
During her maiden voyage she will be taking measurements to assess the size of the Autumn phytoplankton bloom off SW England. Cefas scientists can remotely pilot Lyra to specific areas of interest - plankton blooms, spills/pollution, etc. Cefas also plans to use her for monitoring and recording underwater noise (from whales and dolphins and man-made sources), measuring water currents flowing around the coast and be part of a developing strategy to monitor complete ecosystems. The use of an autonomous wave powered Wave Glider will enable Cefas to undertake testing and monitoring much more efficiently and sustainably.
During this and subsequent missions, Cefas will use Lyra to collect live data every 30 minutes and send them back via satellite to Cefas' HQ in Lowestoft. Cefas Scientists will then use the data collected (including salinity, temperature, chlorophyll, oxygen, and turbidity) to assess the health of UK marine waters as part of the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
Dr David Pearce, Wave Glider Project Leader said:
"Lyra's maiden voyage has been months in the planning. Her journey to the Isles of Scilly will be an opportunity to test her ability to navigate in busy waters and is not without risk, but we are confident that her technology and the Cefas team will ensure she reaches her destination."
For many years, Cefas has been operating six autonomous, instrumented SmartBuoys in key locations around England and Wales to monitor water quality. However, being moored to the seabed, these only measure at fixed locations and provide no information on spatial scales. Satellites can provide large scale data but cloud cover and the inability to measure certain important water quality parameters such as oxygen, mean that it is important to make direct measurements in the coastal and shelf seas. This is where autonomous vehicles can have a role, which has previously been filled by large expensive research ships. Wave Gliders - powered directly by wave energy and fitted with solar panels to power the sensors and satellite communications - can be deployed at sea for many months at a time.
- The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) is the UK's leading and most diverse centre for applied marine and freshwater science. We advise UK government and private sector customers on the environmental impact of their policies, programmes and activities through our marine evidence and impartial expert advice. Our environmental monitoring and assessment programmes are fundamental to the sustainable development of marine and freshwater industries.
- For more information about Cefas' Wave Glider contact David.Pearce@cefas.co.uk