Credit: ACSA, SeaExplorer
Seas and oceans provide an essential part of the European wealth and well-being. But they are also under huge pressure from human activities and climate change. according to the final report from the Expert Group on Marine Research Infrastructures "Towards European Ocean Observation". Marine observation infrastructures are essential to support the maritime economy, study the marine environment, ocean / climate interactions and support marine safety.
An important component of the European Marine Research Infrastructure will be Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) and underwater gliders (UWGs) with a typical endurance reaching now up to 4-6 months. Gliders move horizontally on wings and profile vertically by controlling buoyancy, from the surface down to more than 1.000 m, monitoring physical, biogeochemical or acoustic data in quasireal time.
The “Gliders for Research, Ocean Observation and Management” (GROOM) project co-funded by the EU with €3,5 million started in 2011 and will evaluate the requirements to set up a sustainable European glider infrastructure to safely operate individual as well as fleets of gliders in order to create a continuum of observations.
In the future operations shall be coordinated to fill the gaps left by present marine observation systems on global, regional and coastal scale, with benefits for both fundamental marine research and operational oceanography. The GROOM consortium is composed of 19 partners representing 9 European countries.
The partners have a wealth of experience and expertise in all aspects of ocean observations from the technology used to collect the data through to outputs and dissemination of data products. GROOM will define the scientific, technological and organizational/legal levels, of a European glider capacity for research and sustained observations of the oceans, in line with the other European and international initiatives for marine in-situ observations.
The proposal for this new infrastructure strongly relies on EuroARGO and JERICO infrastructures which are emerging and also considers the relevant international coordinating bodies such as GOOS. The proposed technological infrastructures will be based on several dedicated 'gliderports' to maintain and operate a European fleet of gliders in coordination with US, Canadian, Australian and other similar infrastructures.
This new infrastructure would be beneficial for both academic oceanographic research and operational oceanography systems on which a large number of marine activities and societal applications now rely.
For more information about the project, please visit the GROOM website.