The PLOCAN glider fleet supports the eIMPACT project led by ULPGC and CSIC for the study of ocean eddies

The area of Vehicles, Instruments and Submarine Machines (VIMAS) of ​​the Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands as Unique Scientific-Technical Infrastructure (ICTS-PLOCAN) has started a technical and operational collaboration with the eIMPACT project of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), whose main objective is to study the relevance of oceanic subtropical cyclonic (C) and anticyclonic (A) mesoscale eddies in the southwest of the Canary Islands in the context of the biological pump (the production of organic matter and its transport to the deep ocean). The eIMPACT project is led by Javier Aristegui, Full Professor of Ecology and researcher at ULPGC.

To achieve this goal a study on the linkage in the dynamics of mesoscale (O~100 km) and sub-mesoscale (O~10 km) physical processes and their biological and biogeochemical impacts along the life history of C and A eddies (from their generation to a mature stage) in the Canary Current Corridor will be conducted. The project will combine traditional oceanographic sampling methodologies with state-of-the-art autonomous instrumentation (gliders) to sample down to the sub-mesoscale.

PLOCAN thus supports the scientific community, promoting specific added-value collaboration procedures and strategies with scientific-technological entities from the public and private sectors, being in this occasion within the framework of the eIMPACT project led by the ULPGC through the Institute of Oceanography and Global Change (IOCAG), in which the CSIC collaborates through the Institute of Marine Research (IIM).

After application and subsequent favorable evaluation of the access proposal submitted by ULPGC-IOCAG in 2021, a Seaexplorer glider unit belonging to PLOCAN’s VIMAS fleet is assigned to cover the monitoring needs requested. The glider integrates a science payload of biogeochemical sensors for the measurement of essential variables of the water column such as conductivity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, pigments and turbidity, and to which has been specifically added a UVP6 sensor (Underwater Vision Profiler) to simultaneously detect suspended particles >100 µm and zooplankton, with the ability to be quantified in a known volume of water.

The monitoring activity is planned to take place in an area Southwest of the Canary Islands over three missions lasting one month each between August and December 2022, in which the glider will cross several eddy structures both C and A to a maximum depth of 1000 meters on pre-defined sections in coordination with the rest of both synoptic and in-situ observations from the oceanographic vessel Sarmiento de Gamboa.

The current ICTS-PLOCAN’s glider fleet is made up of a multidisciplinary set of state-of-the-art autonomous vehicles suited with different science-payload configurations to cover coastal and open-ocean observation needs in an efficient and sustainable manner both in the column of water and on the surface, being able to last in operation for long periods of time according to needs, under the continuous supervision and control of specialists of the PLOCAN technical and operations team.

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