Steven A. Ruberg - NOAA GLERL
The goal of the RECON project is to develop a national network of low cost coastal buoys capable of seabed to sea-surface observations. The RECON system has been designed from the beginning with a built-in capability to add buoy observation sites to meet regional and national integrated observing system requirements. In addition to advancing NOAA’s scientific real-time data acquisition capability, the project is making relevant data accessible to the public and educational institutions through a web-based data interface accessible using current internet technology with the goal of providing Internet 2 content. Permanent and portable wireless internet observation systems will be deployed at six sites for scientific data collection and continued engineering development in Lakes Huron and Erie.
The need for development of regional coastal observing systems has been highlighted by a number of studies as well as by the NOAA Strategic Plan*, the National Ocean Partnership Program, and the U.S. Coastal-Global Ocean Observing System program (C-GOOS)*. Continual assessment of the status and trends in coastal environments permits identification of perturbations that may signal changes in the ecosystem, puts current trends into an historical framework, allows us to differentiate true environmental change from variance and provides a context to assess the impact of predicted changes.
While legacy systems currently provide the majority of data for a national Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS)*, a high bandwidth system using commercial networking standards will be required to provide real-time whole water column observations of physical, chemical, and biological variables in coastal areas few, if any, environmental observations. The RECON project will also include the development of autonomous underwater vehicle technology and deployment of real-time in situ biological and chemical sensors, including fisheries acoustics for biomass estimation, in support of Ocean. US coastal priorities for IOOS. On-water observation networks will include the development of fiber optic cabled and high-bandwidth wireless systems utilizing advanced database management systems. The project will establish a test bed for observing system network design studies and develop enhanced verification capabilities as outlined in NOAA’s 5-Year Research Plan.
Two RECON buoys were assembled and deployed during the 2005 field season as planned. The two buoys were integrated with the existing RECON buoy located 15 statute miles north of Cleveland, OH. A wireless connection was achieved with the outermost buoy located 25 miles north of Cleveland. In 2006, all data will be accessible through a relational database management system interface.
The RECON system currently in place in the Great Lakes has national and regional applications. This wireless Internet observation system, with shore stations at four coastal locations covering approximately 800 square miles of sea surface, uses commercially available networking equipment allowing straightforward integration into a nationwide network (see figure below). Each system collects meteorological data and provides sub-surface measurements of chemical, biological, and physical parameters. The system is designed to allow controlled access to multi-institutional users through surface buoys and sub-surface sensor guest ports located on an underwater hub. The observation network currently provides environmental data to state, federal, and university researchers, educators and resource managers. Overall, this type of effort will be an important contribution to NOAA’s leadership in supporting and promoting observation system development.
As NOAA’s coastal observing system is put into place, there will be a need for an integrated set of data management and communications functions that will allow system users both real-time and archival access to the large datasets that will be created. The datasets will include an array of data types from physical and chemical measurements to biological information to video feeds of selected events.
Ruberg, S.A., E. Guasp, N. Hawley, R.W. Muzzi, S.B. Brandt, H.A. Vanderploeg, J.C. Lane, T.C. Miller, and S.A. Constant. Societal benefits of the Real-time Coastal Observation Network (ReCON): Implications for municipal drinking water quality. Marine Technology Society Journal 42(3):103-109 (2008).
*Link leads off GLERL website