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Published: 2023-05-16 Updated: 2023-05-30, 16:27

Sea water is measured every minute

NEWS A Ferrybox has been installed on the research vessel KBV 181. Continuous collection of aquatic environmental data will provide a broader picture of the state of the environment and create new opportunities for researchers. "This is an important complement to our regular measurements", says Anna Palmbo Bergman, chemist at Umeå Marine Sciences Centre.

Text: Kristina Viklund

In regular expeditions for environmental monitoring, water samples are taken at different depths, from the sea surface all the way down to the bottom. By analyzing these samples, an accurate picture of the environmental status of the marine area is obtained. But the advanced measurement is costly, both in time and money, and it is therefore only done in a few places at each expedition.

Continuous sampling

As a complement, a Ferrybox has therefore been installed on the research vessel KBV 181. The Ferrybox is an automatic system for measuring surface water, which means that it also collects data during the journey between sampling stations, as well as during the Coast Guard's regular patrols. Sensors measure temperature, salinity, chlorophyll, turbidity, pH and carbon dioxide pressure in the flowing seawater.

"It is a cost-effective way to obtain more information about the marine environment. We get data from a larger geographical area than the stations we usually visit in the Gulf of Bothnia", says Anna Palmbo Bergman, chemist at Umeå Marine Sciences Centre, who works with national and regional environmental monitoring of the water mass in the Gulf of Bothnia.

Opportunities for researchers

Every minute, the Ferrybox's data is compiled with the vessel's own measurements of wind speed, temperature, humidity and photosynthetic light. The merged files are then sent to SMHI's database.
The continuous measurements offer great opportunities for researchers. During an ongoing expedition, water samples for other types of analyses can be collected in parallel, which means that researchers can efficiently conduct their own investigations with a large geographical coverage.

Almost completely automatic

It sounds fantastic that everything goes automatically, but there are of course some challenges and needs for manual work.

"When everything is working properly, we don't have to do more than check the equipment, clean some parts and stock up on reagents and the like. But during the winter, for example, ice can cause real problems, even if the intake for water is five meters below the waterline."

The ferry box on board the research vessel KBV 181 has been funded by the Faculty of Science and Technology, Umeå University.

Questions regarding KBV 181