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How Do We Monitor the Sea and Fjords?

Photo by Ingvar Henne.
Photo by Ingvar Henne.

Researchers are testing how to best connect different sensors in a smart network to monitor the condition of the ocean in real time, at the Institute of Marine Research's research station at Sauganeset in Austevoll.

Translated and republished with permission from NORCE. Original article by Gunn Janne Myrseth, published on 29.05.24.

– We at SFI Smart Ocean develop systems for real-time data from the ocean via acoustic underwater communication. Both sensor development, data network (IoT), and systems for data analysis are included in the center's work, says Ingvar Henne, the center's leader and employee at UiB.

The SFI with research partners from the University of Bergen, NORCE, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, Institute of Marine Research and a number of industry partners, is based in Bergen.

Henne has NORCE researcher Marie Bueie Holstad as deputy leader in the center and a number of researchers affiliated with NORCE and the other partners, are daily involved in various projects under the center's auspices.

Erik Bjerke from Kongsberg Discovery and Anders Vahlin from NORCE are testing smart sensors and underwater network communication in real-time at the Institute of Marine Research's station in Austevoll. Photos by Ingvar Henne.

Why Are We Here?

In order for the ocean industry to coexist with nature in a safe and sustainable way, data and facts are needed. Today, data is collected through a number of measurements in the sea, coastal areas and fjords, from ships, buoys and radio-controlled or autonomous vessels.

However, there is a need for real-time measurements and long-term data collection. This is necessary to systematically monitor important parameters at critical underwater locations over time and this is where our SFI Smart Ocean comes in handy.

Here, under the auspices of the SFI, a wireless observation network will be developed that will be able to provide information in real time when something happens underwater. This is not only important for the industry but is essential to alert changes in the living conditions for all life in the sea and fjords.

Center leader Henne says that there are several goals for testing in Austevoll: Among other things, they will test different sensors individually and also check the communication between the sensors, as well as make a film about the center that Frode Ims from UiB learning lab is producing.

As such, the researchers were tested on new skills: namely the role of movie stars. A lot to think about when they had to work to get the equipment in place, some of which is both heavy and vulnerable.

– I'm following up on Ingvar's idea from the time he worked at NORCE, says research group leader Anders Vahlin at NORCE.

NORCE researcher Rune Øyerhamn was responsible for getting in place, among other things, one of the measuring buoys (North sensor node) that was deployed again from a boat after maintenance.

The whole team had to make sure that they got integration between Aanderaa SeaGuard and Kongsberg cNode and opposing modem (cNode) that was mounted on the floating bridge at the research station led by Vahlin.

The cNode modem was mounted on the floating bridge and receives signals from both the northern measuring buoy and the southern measuring buoy that was deployed on 15 May.

– Communication from both measuring buoys to the floating bridge was tested, says Vahlin.

Did it work?

– Yes, now we will evaluate all the data and see what went well and less well. But a lot worked just fine and then we will send it to the center leader before a plan for further follow-up is made, says Vahlin.

Inside the floating bridge in Austevoll, two units with NORCE's modem, which have been developed in collaboration with Kongsberg and AkerBP, were also tested in the sea for the first time.

Figure out What?

Henne continues:

– The center's goal is not to do research on the ocean, but to create systems that can be used to research the ocean. Therefore, we look at solutions that can be used for both aquaculture, oil and gas, offshore wind and possibly extraction of marine minerals. For all these areas, environmental monitoring is important to find out how the activities affect the environment and climate. In addition, ocean research in general is an application area (climate development, local environmental impacts, fish health, etc.)

What about the development of new sensors? Here Henne is modest:

– We develop some sensors (e.g. pH sensor) but focus on networks to access data in real time. Today's solutions are largely based on deploying measurement systems where data is retrieved together with the equipment afterwards.

The following participated from SFI Smart Ocean:

  • Jean-Baptiste Danre, Institute of Marine Research
  • Anders Vahlin, NORCE
  • Rune Øyerhamn, NORCE
  • Erik Bjerke, Kongsberg Discovery
  • Roald Otnes, Norwegian Defence Research Establishment
  • Ingvar Henne, UiB

For more information about SFI Smart Ocean you can contact

Marie Bueie Holstad
Chief Scientist - Bergen
+47 920 54 529

Ingvar Henne
UiB and Centre Director, SFI Smart Ocean
+47 900 93 038

Anders Vahlin
Chief Scientist – Autonomous systems and IoT - Bergen

Rune Øyerhamn
Scientist - Bergen
+47 958 23 157

SFI Spring Conference

Join the SFI Smart Ocean spring conference 5 june in Bergen.

It is arranged as an open event to promote knowledge sharing and foster innovation.

The centre aims to developing a smart and wireless underwater sensor network, for the benefit of science and industry.

Last chance to register: 31 May.