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  • underwater observatory

    OceanLab Node 4: Marine Observatory

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The OceanLab Marine Observatory provides a unique platform for users to develop and test new measurement and monitoring technology, as well as establishing key observational sites that will enable long-term insight into the environmental status of Trondheimsfjord.

New global trends in oceanographic research, combined with the tighter financial constraints on industry, have created a rapidly growing demand for more cost-effective marine environmental research. Traditionally, fieldwork associated with marine research is very expensive, with high volumes of labour and large direct costs. The development of autonomous platforms such as gliders and underwater vehicles has enabled monitoring to be performed with significantly reduced costly ship-time. There is a need improve technology and operational competences surrounding the use of new and autonomous platforms for monitoring the marine environment and streamline these observations with modelling tools. Application areas span the entire range of environmental monitoring and forecasting topics, from monitoring of acute releases of pollution to fundamental understanding of marine environmental processes.

The establishment of OceanLab provides a dynamic field laboratory that encourage collaboration across the national research communities and scientific disciplines in technology development for environmental monitoring. OceanLab will strengthen Norway's position within the use of autonomous platforms for environmental research and will provide a platform for development and testing of new technology to other established observatories such as the LoVe observatory (Vesterålen).

We are currently in the phase of developing functional and technical requirements for the Marine Observatory. If you have suggestions, questions, or would like to make use of the data then please contact



Two buoys will soon be visible in the Trondheim fjord in two separate locations, as part of a new National Research Infrastructure (OceanLab). One large buoy will be located just west of Munkholmen, and one smaller buoy near Røberget (Ingdalen, outside Orkland kommune).

The buoys will collect continuous measurements of ocean environmental data. This can be used for many applications including: improving environmental understanding, providing sites for in-situ lab experiments, testing of ocean sensing technology, education and science communication and supporting local environmental policymaking.

The Munkholmen site is the primary platform for testing new instrumentation and monitoring the effect of the Nidelven river on the fjord.

The Ingdalen site will be primarily used for monitoring inflowing water from the Atlantic into the rest of the fjord, helping us to understand the transport of nutrients and biomass through this area.

Both platforms will support communication to the subsea facility and the test area for autonomous vessels.

Data will be made available to anyone who would like it as soon as it is collected (via a digital platform). We will make as much as possible free. Interested parties can also rent space on the buoys for setting out their own sensors (coupled to the power and telemetry system).

The Ingdalen site provides critical information about how water from the ocean comes in and out of the fjord. The location by Munkholmen is an area where a lot of other research activities are planned, so it will provide data and communication gateways for these activities and operations in the Trondheim harbour. This location also has easy access from the city via a small boat, which allows us to use this site as a floating laboratory.

The Ingdalen buoy is 2m in diameter and about 4m above the sea surface. The Munkholmen buoy is 5.2m in diameter and about 5m above the sea surface. They will both be compliant with international IALA navigation standards, which means they will be yellow in colour.

Ingdalen will have one anchor between the buoy and the seabed (at 530m depth). Munkholmen will have three anchors between the buoy and the seabed (at about 70m depth).

Both buoys are planned to be deployed before mid-September 2021.

The OceanLab Observatory is planned to be operational for at least 10 years.

The footprint of the anchors is very small (equivalent to a boat that is anchored). Materials and fuels should not enter or degrade into the environment, and the new OceanLab workboat will have an electric motor. The buoys will conform to the requirements given by The Norwegian Coastal Administration (Kystverket) in relation to environmental impacts.

We are in dialogue with The Norwegian Coastal Administration (Kystverket) and will have all approvals from them in-place before we deploy the buoys.