Now that the cabled infrastructure on the seabed is well established and robust, the VENUS Facility is entering a new growth phase following a successful grant award through the Canada Foundation for Innovation. Over the next 4 years VENUS will grow:
- Additional seafloor sensors in moveable ‘modules’;
- Remote and direct measurements at the surface (HF Radar and instrumented Ferries);
- Interactive profiling of the water column in Saanich Inlet (Profiler);
- Remote measurements made by mobile platforms (Gliders and an AUV);
- New data products and presentations.
In Saanich Inlet, the Facility will install a large powered buoy mid Inlet, cabled back to the subsea Node. On the buoy a sophisticated winching system will allow hourly profiles of the water column. The modular system will support more than 20 sensors at any given time. The Inlet is an ideal location for biogeochemical especially in the circumstance of growing hypoxia in the ocean.
The Strait of Georgia is the second busiest waterway in North America, and is also home to the outflow of a major salmon spawning river. The VENUS cabled array in the Strait supports real-time science on whale vocalizations, sediment transport, salmon abundance and the stability of the delta slope. We will expand VENUS capabi-lity with HF radar antennae, providing surface current and wave information to scientists, shipping, rescue coordination agencies, among others. Furthermore, the Facility will instrument several Ferries to enable the measurement of oceanic and meteorological surface conditions in the Strait. These data, as with the radar information, will be transmitted back to the database made available online.
For the first time, the Facility will deploy mobile assets to allow scientists to sample in ways, places and conditions that would otherwise not be possible. To obtain water column properties in the tidally dynamic Strait, ocean gliders will gather data such as temperature, salinity, oxygen, chlorophyll-A and turbidity as they travel from surface to seabed.
In collaboration with the Ocean Technology Laboratory at UVic, the Facility will also offer scientists access to an AUV. The vehicle will undergo a retrofit to enable additional sensor technologies and capabilities, including modes for seabed tracking and profiling.
Five specialized platforms will support research on seafloor processes by configuration to suit evolving experiments anywhere within the Facility. Each platform will have up to 12 instruments focused on a study theme. Cameras (Near-Infra-Red, Acoustic, Digital), current and turbulence sensors, chemical and sediment sensors etc. will be used, often in novel ways and applications. These sub-sea Laboratories will be unique in scope, flexibility, and access.
All of these systems are reliant on a complex data management system. The existing infrastructure is now well understood and managed. The arrival of these new technologies and data will undoubtedly introduce associated challenges, both at the outset and operationally over the years. Perhaps the greatest challenge for the science community at large will be the synthesis and integration of all of this information derived from different sources.
VENUS recognizes this challenge. Ultimately the goal is to become an integrated observing system that serves focused studies on the seabed but also encapsulates all the sensing information to provide over-arching forecasts of the state of the coast.