The Portuguese Navy and the University of Algarve are carrying out oceanographic measurements with an autonomous underwater vehicle to gather information from the Algarve coast that will later be concentrated by the Coastal Environmental Observatory of the Southwest Iberian Peninsula (OCASO), said one researcher.
Flávio Martins is the researcher at the University of Algarve (UAlg) who is coordinating the oceanographic measurement campaign with the support of the Navy that this is “one of the activities planned under the OCASO“, a project financed by the Union With cross-border cooperation between Portugal and Spain and covering several entities in the two countries.
The researcher said that “UAlg is involved, the University of Cadiz, which is the coordinator, the Portuguese Hydrographic Institute, the Spanish Oceanographic Institute and a Spanish institution called Puertos del Estado, which manages the Spanish state ports“, and traced as the “global objective” of the “create an oceanographic and environmental observatory” project in the far southwest region of Europe.
“We started with the Portuguese Navy this cycle of campaigns, we have an equipment that is an autonomous vehicle like a submarine robot, in the form of a small torpedo, and we want to make one exit per month to do measurements, both in the windward and leeward, and thus build a set of measures that are quite relevant to increase knowledge of the oceanic processes here in the area, “he explained.
Flávio Martins emphasized that this activity allows the gathering of data that will later be made available through the Internet and used in the forecast models that these entities have and that will be concentrated in the Observatory, as for example with oceanographic data that both the Portuguese Hydrographic Institute or the Ports of the State manage autonomously.
“In addition to observation, we also have a very important component of modelling, oceanographic models, which allow us to extend observations and make forecasts over time of properties and oceanographic variables,” he said.
Flávio Martins said that “there are five models to work at the moment“, one of UAlg, “SOMA, which is the model of the Algarve coast“, but “the University of Cadiz has another model, Puertos del Estado are responsible for running an Iberian model and the Hydrographic Institute has a wave model, “and” all together form a set of models that will feed the observatory, “he summarized.
The data will be introduced into the models and the forecasts will then be used by activities such as “aquaculture” and “mammal observation”, or in situations of environmental risk, he pointed out.
“They will have forecast data so they can plan their activities more efficiently, safely and economically,” he said, noting also the ability of these models to “support the National Maritime Authority in responding to a hydrocarbon spill.”
Flávio Martins also gave the example of how the data collected by the observatory can be useful for aquaculture of mussels, which is made off-shore off Olhão.
“The mussel is very sensitive to water temperature, spawns when the water temperature reaches a certain value, and if the aquaculture has temperature prediction data and can predict that temperature, you can collect the mussel before spawning because it has more weight“, said.