For more details on current research please click on staff profiles.
Variable buoyancy systems - Scottish Enterprise Proof of Concept Fund, (November 2004 - 2006).
Many underwater buoyancy systems exist. However, no one system is an ideal solution if you require a physically small, low power and relatively large buoyancy change variable buoyancy system that would be suitable to "bolt-on" to a range of underwater vehicles. Current variable buoyancy devices can be categorised in 3 groups:
- Compressed air systems (as used on submarines) that generate large buoyancy change but necessitate the use of physically large and high power compressors. Practicalities such as energy use and compressor pressure, limit depth of operation;
- Closed loop oil pumping systems that are energy efficient but have very small buoyancy change capability (0 - 1kg) and typically operate to a maximum 3000m depth;
- Ballast shedding systems that can only increase buoyancy;
Our variable buoyancy system takes the best parts of the above systems to produce a physically small unit, that is low power and is capable of relatively large buoyancy change (34kgs) and work to depths of 6000m. We hope with help of Scottish Enterprise funding to prove this concept and operate the VBS in the deep ocean towards the end of the funding period.
We hope the "bolt-on" low power and high buoyancy change nature of our system will lend itself to use on a number of underwater vehicle. Particularly, Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), Remotely Operated vehicles (ROVs), and Landers (ocean floor sub-sea moorings).
COBO Integrating new technologies for the study of benthic ecosystem response to human activity: towards a Coastal Ocean Benthic Observatory
Coastal ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to anthropogenic perturbation, affecting biodiversity and ecosystem stability and resilience. Shallow water sediments and their associated biota represent a reservoir for biodiversity, hosting resting and reproductive stages of planktonic organisms, and regulating carbon and nutrient biogeochemical cycles. However, the relationship between tightly coupled biological and geochemical processes in this environment is poorly defined with respect to their temporal and spatial variability. The overall objective of COBO is to integrate emerging and innovative technologies from different disciplines (physics, chemistry, biology, imagery) to provide in situ monitoring of sediment habitats, a key component of coastal marine ecosystems, in order to understand complex interactions between the biota (function and diversity) and their chemical environment. Existing technologies have limited spatial and temporal sampling resolutions and this has hampered progress in determining key parameters and in explaining biogeochemical patterns / processes and in modelling ecosystem dynamics. Improved in situ technologies are required to provide rigorous scientific information on processes regulating this unique and fragile habitat and for assessing, controlling and minimising human impact on European coastal waters thus addressing societal need. Organism-sediment processes, with both enhancing and mediating effects, are still poorly understood in shallow water sediments that receive the bulk of anthropogenic disturbance. The combination of innovative instruments from the different disciplines will provide powerful tools to significantly advance our understanding of organism sediment relations under dynamic coastal conditions and enhance predictive capability. COBO represents a major step towards the development of permanently operating benthic observatories for coastal management.
14 European partners, co-ordinator is SAMS (Graham Shimmield). Oceanlab is Partner 5.
To design, construct and fully test a multi-wavelength sediment profile imagery (SPI) camera capable of still and time-lapse digital imaging of invertebrate infaunal bioturbation, develop an appropriate image analysis routine for post-hoc interrogation.
ESONET (European Sea floor Observatory Network) European Union (contract number:- EVK3-CT-2002-80008)
The aim of ESONET is to establish the basis for a marine component of GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) comprising a network of long-term, sea floor, multi-disciplinary observatories at key provinces around the European margin providing continuous vigilance in relation to geophysical, biogeochemical, oceanographic and biological phenomena. ESONET will be focussed beyond the continental shelf edge in the ocean margin areas down to 4000m depth which are less well known than the shelf itself and generally beyond the reach of existing ocean data systems. The European Ocean Margin region extends approximately 15,000km from the Arctic Ocean to the Black Sea with an area of ca. 3 million km2 this great submarine terrain is comparable with the total land mass of Europe. Only a small fraction has been explored and new features, and communities of animals are discovered every year. It is important that monitoring of Biodiversity and Global change be established in this realm.
Monitoring of the sub sea environment presents unique difficulties since there are little or no historical data based on human observation as for the terrestrial environment and furthermore, the sea beyond a few centimetres below the surface is inaccessible to optical remote sensing from aircraft or space. Establishment of an in situ observatory network is an important first step in management and conservation of this realm. The observatories should include geophysical monitoring of the sea floor, water column measurements and biological sensors, thus logging everything from earthquakes to whale sounds. They will extend their scope of observation to the following-up of anthropogenic intrusions such as dangerous wreck or industrial exploitation.
AutoMERS (Autonomous Marine Environmental Research Stations) NERC/ Wellcome Joint Infrastructure Fund
This is a joint initiative between the universities of Aberdeen, Bristol and St Andrews and the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) to build and equip two shore-based Research Centres. One of these will be at the University of Aberdeen's field station at Culterty, and the other at SAMS near Oban. A UK fleet of unmanned autonomous sub-sea platforms will be established, capable of undertaking research missions at depths down to 6000m for periods of up to twelve months.
The principal applicants were:
- Prof I.G. Priede, Dr DG Raffaelli and Dr PM Thompson, Zoology, Aberdeen
- Dr GB Shimmield, Prof. JD Gage, Dr KJ Jones, SAMS , Oban
- Dr J. Partridge, School of Biological Sciences, Bristol
- Dr DM Paterson, Environmental & Evolutionary Biology, St Andrews
- Dr J Watson, Engineering, Aberdeen
- Prof. JI Prosser, Molecular & Cell Biology, Aberdeen
Metabolism, activity and distribution patterns in demersal deep-sea fish NERC (contract number:- GR3/12789)
The main objectives were:
1. Determine routine metabolism and activity of demersal fishes in relation to seasonal and environmental parameters. This objective to be achieved using autonomous lander vehicles to conduct experiments in situ on the ocean floor. The Aberdeen University Deep Ocean Submersible (AUDOS) will collect data on routine swimming speed and three new systems will collect data on:
- Resting metabolism (FRESP:- Fish RESPirometry Lander);
- Fish fast start (SPRINT lander);
- Long term scavenger abundance and activity (DOBO: Deep Ocean Benthic Observatory).
2. Temporal changes in demersal fish populations in the Porcupine Seabight. This objective to be achieved using trawl sampling (OTSB) and baited camera data (AUDOS) to examine seasonal and inter-annual changes in the composition of the ichthyofauna.