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Multi-purpose/Multi-sensor Extra Light Oceanography Apparatus

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - MELOA (Multi-purpose/Multi-sensor Extra Light Oceanography Apparatus)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2020-02-29

"The MELOA project proposes to develop a low-cost, easy-to-handle, wave resilient, multi-purpose, multi-sensor, extra light surface drifter for use in all water environments, ranging from deep-sea to inland waters, including coastal areas, river plumes and surf zones. The device will be developed as an upgrade to the WAVY drifter conceived by the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto, Portugal, which was used to measure the surface circulation forced by wave breaking, including detailed structure of rip and littoral drift currents.
The overall objective of MELOA is innovate the current market of in-situ measurement systems for marine environments, by providing a low-cost and easy-to-handle solution for in-situ water related data acquisition, in the form of the WAVY drifters family of products. In fact, most ocean drifters developed to date have focused on either the characterization of sub-surface currents, or on superficial currents, but with a strong influence from the wind on the drifter itself. MELOA is trying to solve the problem of minimizing exposure to wind (the so called ""sail-effect"") in order to get a more accurate description of the movement of the water, while maintaining good power and communications capabilities (either via mobile networks or via satellite) for the transmission of data to shore.
On another note, drifters are usually not designed to withstand the very harsh conditions of nearshore and littoral ocean circulation (i.e. circulation happening at the coast, including the breaking of waves and the motions verified in the surf zone). MELOA is developing products that can sustain high accelerations and impacts, thus are ideal to measure and quantify properties of motion in these extreme locations. This is a tremendous achievement and will have several important applications, such as (just to name one) an accurate description and visualization of water movement in beaches, which in many cases constitute hazards to unaware beach goers."
Running from December 2017 to February 2021, MELOA has 11 project milestones planned. After the Kick Off meeting in December 2017, MELOA consortium has successfully passed the expected milestones: Design Review Meeting, in Aveiro (Portugal), two Advisory Board meetings, in Dublin (May 2018) and in 2019 Vilanova (May 2019), and two Test Plan Review meeting in Toulouse (September 2018) and Porto (October 2019). At the end of the second reporting period (29th February 2020), the project is in the Setup Phase, with the following major results being achieved: Use Cases consolidated, technology evolution (design of WAVY ocean), Manufactured most of the WAVY littoral units, operational Data Support Services, developing Added-value Services, more than 10 field test campaign with WAVY Littoral and a relevant amount of Outreach and Promotion activities performed.
Given the low influence of wind upon the drifters’ displacements, MELOA will provide a cheap and effective way to monitor surface currents and surface dynamic features anywhere in the World Ocean. Through equipping the drifters with thermistors at two different levels, the possibility is open for monitoring “near-skin temperature” and near-surface vertical temperature gradients, which will be invaluable for calibration/validation of satellite derived SST fields. These two features have the potential to provide more accurate data on ocean features, which can have a substantial impact on current and future knowledge of the ocean and the climate.

At smaller scales, the drifters have already caused enthusiasm in local or specific communities, such as surfers, beach authorities or even the common citizen. Outreach activities, along with dissemination events and with the help of the Advisory Board, have made a wide range of potential users aware of what MELOA is working on and their interest has been evidenced in the many requests for more information, and the leads for future collaboration, that have been received by the project. In the coming year, the partnership is committed to continue this dissemination effort and to develop a family of products that will meet their expectations.