Environmenatl Monitoring and Sensor Development

April 13 2017

Coastal Louisiana is one of the most productive ecosystems in the United States as a result of high freshwater and nutrient input from the Mississippi Atchafalaya River System (MARS) . This high productivity is coupled with the fastest loss of land on the planet with more than 1.2 million square feet lost every day or 1 football field per hour (Figure 1). Southeastern Louisiana sits at the doorstep of climate change as it changes the physical, chemical and environmental setting of the bays and bayous that make up this highly productive system and impacts local communities. LUMCON operates two stationary environmental monitoring stations in Terrebonne and Tambour Bays that log the requisite set of meterological and oceanographic environmental data. Although these monitoring stations sit directly within this path of land loss and sea level rise they can only measure the nearby changes associated with the larger process. We propose to use an OpenROV Trident system to measure the fine scale changes associated with coastal marsh erosion and use it as a platform to develop micro CTD, nutrient and turbidity sensors, in concert with OpenROV and Oceanography For Everyone, as tools to document the loss of coastal land masses. Expected changes in salinity, temperature, nutrient distribution and diurnal oxygen regimes as marsh transforms to open coastal seas must be better understood and the ability to measure these on a fine, spatial basis throughout Terrebonne Bay using a mobile ROV platform.

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April 13 2017


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Expedition Background

Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) operates an Environmental Monitoring Program with stations that include both meteorological as well as water quality instrumentation in Terrebonne Bay. LUMCON’s monitoring stations offer real-time in-situ coastal environmental data that is available to the scientific community and the general public. While stationary monitoring stations are excellent for collecting long-term time-series data sets, an OpenROV Trident carrying a mini-CTD payload would be ideal for conducting transects and collecting pressure, temperature, conductivity, nutrient, chlorophyll and dissolved oxygen data over a larger area within Terrebonne bay. A Trident/CTD can be used in areas that are inaccessible to a conventional motor vessel. Another advantage of a Trident/CTD system would be collection of water quality data in 3 dimensions by combining horizontal transects with an undulating motion of diving and ascending, in effect creating an undulating CTD without the need for a motor vessel to tow the system and create disturbances in the water column ahead of the CTD. Utilizing real time sensor information we can make the data instantly accessible which allows for easy dissemination of crucial small scale events occurring on a bay wide basis in a time frame that allows for immediate action by interested parties.
For summer of 2017, LUMCON’s Environmental Monitoring Program has approached YSI/Xylem concerning purchasing or obtaining a demo EXO1 4-port data sonde with pressure, temperature, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen probes. LUMCON would like to design a mount for an EXO1 sonde, experiment with flight patterns to determine the most efficient speed and pattern for covering the water column along a transect, as well as assess the feasibility of mapping hypoxia across all of Terrebonne bay.

(Figure 1. from Batker et al. 2010, Earth Economics)