Scientific mission with uncrewed surface vehicle (USV) to assess and catalog ocean ecosystems of the Atlantic basin

The Mission Atlantic USV-WaveGlider uncrewed vehicle has been put into operation in waters of Faial Island, Azores (Portugal), to collect 3D information on essential ocean variables (physical, chemical and biological), as well as to map biodiversity, food supply and pressures on the Atlantic Ocean basin. The activity runs within the framework of the European Mission Atlantic project.

After almost two years of technical and logistic preparations, and within the partnership framework between Escola do Mar, OKEANOS, Maritime Robotics, Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and PLOCAN, the USV-WaveGlider has started a long-lasting mission across the Macaronesia and South Atlantic waters.

The USV-WaveGlider is an uncrewed surface vehicle (USV) equipped with a variety of sensors such as weather station (Airmar), conductivity and temperature probe (Valeport CT Sensor), dissolved oxygen (Aanderaa O2 Optode), and partial pressure carbon dioxide (pCO2 Optode), as well as a pioneering fish tracking sensor (Vemco) for selected tagged species able to provide novel insights into fish behavior and survival. See the Wave Glider launched into sea in the following video.

PLOCAN, partner of the Mission Atlantic project, will particularly contribute to this mission as member of the operations core-team, providing piloting support along the whole mission as well as logistic capabilities for the “pìt-stop” in the Canary Islands.

The mission plan includes a first leg covering from the Azores to the Canary Islands. From there, it will travel to Cape Verde for a second leg to finally end at Ascension Islands.

Through its journey and data collection, the USV-WaveGlider will contribute to the Mission Atlantic expected impacts in terms of assessment and modelling through pelagic mapping of ecosystems, resources and pressures: developing ecosystem assessments and forecasts, and increase understanding of vulnerabilities and risks including climate change, as well as contributing to better and more accurate monitoring, modelling, planning, management and prediction capacities in the whole Atlantic basin.

The Mission Atlantic Project aims to develop and systematically implement an Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) framework at regional and basin scales through a framework supported by a cross-sectoral research platform between science, policy makers and industry, according to the Belem Declaration. The framework will develop and apply existing and new tools and technology consisting of a set of statistical methods, simulation models, machine learning algorithms and ocean observation technology platform, to assess the dynamics of indicators at basin and regional scales and establish the development of Atlantic marine ecosystems including future risks and vulnerabilities of crossing tipping points in undesirable ecosystem states and exploitation opportunities.

Mission Atlantic will implement platforms for effective interactions between researchers, companies, policy makers and authorities across the Atlantic. Training and professional development opportunities for blue economy professionals will be provided through an adaptive e-learning platform that incorporates IEA theory and examples into the World Maritime University curriculum, thus ensuring the legacy of the program.

An USV-WaveGlider Dashboard will be available soon on the Mission Atlantic website to showcase collected data. However, you can already track the journey of the Wave Glider: Check out the real-time location and the traveled path on the Wave Glider Map.

Video of the USV-WaveGlider launching

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