Collecting data in unexplored areas of the Mediterranean Sea

Collecting data in unexplored areas of the Mediterranean Sea

A major physical oceanography research project called Glider South was recently held to gather data on the relatively unexplored area of sea between the Maltese islands and the southern Mediterranean shelf between Malta and Libya using state-of-the-art equipment.

The project used an underwater glider – an autonomous torpedo-like vehicle that is able to dive up and down repeatedly in the sea up to a depth of 1,000 metres, remotely controlled from a land-based station. It collected physical and biogeochemical data on the state of health of the sea, at high spatial resolution, for long periods of time, even under adverse meteorological conditions.

The glider communicated with a land station by satellite links every time it surfaced, relaying collected data and receiving instructions remotely for the next dive.

Hydrographic data in this region is very scarce and the project provided pristine data that will help to explain the dynamic phenomena in the stretch of sea. The data will also be used to validate oceanographic models of the area.

The sea glider was also used along a track close to the Maltese islands to demonstrate how adaptive monitoring strategies using remote­ly controlled unmanned devices provide cost-effective methods to routinely collect basic marine data and measure the health of local coastal waters.

The initiative was led by the University of Malta’s Physical Oceanography Research Group in collaboration with Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique – Institut National des Sciences de l’Univers. Project coordinator Prof. Aldo Drago said Glider South will further put Malta’s marine research capacity on the map as a key contributor in operational oceanography and physical oceanographic endeavours in the central Mediterranean area.

The Armed Forces of Malta supported the project with boats and crew. The AFM also assisted to launch a number of drifters that were concurrently used to track sea currents in the area.

The project was supported by the European Commission under the H2020 Framework programme Jerico Next.

The new generation of sea gliders offers an innovative way to observe and monitor the sea.The new generation of sea gliders offers an innovative way to observe and monitor the sea.

Presenting the sea glider experience in Malta

A half-day seminar will be held on Friday at the Dolmen Resort Hotel, Qawra, starting at 8.45am, to present the sea glider experience in Malta to key stakeholders and interested parties.

It will also showcase how the new generation of sea gliders offers an innovative aid to observe and monitor the sea areas under local jurisdiction.

With the participation of local scientists and two foreign experts, the seminar will provides an opportunity to brainstorm the way to the shape the operational marine observing system of the Maltese islands.

For further information visit the website

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