“FerryBox” is the first automated equipment to be installed on a ferry in the southern hemisphere that will collect oceanographic data from the southern channels, in addition to monitoring the presence of toxins produced by microalgae.
During this week the “FerryBox” equipment will begin to operate; the first automated platform that will allow the collection of high-resolution oceanographic information in the Magallanes Region. The system allows continuous measurements of various environmental parameters during the crossing of the “Yaghan” ferry, belonging to the Austral Broom Company, which makes maritime routes between Punta Arenas and Puerto Williams three times a month, so it will be possible to cover a wide spatial scale and have excellent temporary coverage.
The equipment will allow parameters such as salinity, temperature, dissolved oxygen concentration, CO2, pH, turbidity, chlorophyll, nitrate, etc. to be measured continuously in surface water. “FerryBox” also has a spectro-radiometer system on deck, which will measure the optical properties of the water. It is the first system of this type installed on a ferry in the southern hemisphere, as well as being the only one in the world that has an automated system for capturing toxins produced by microalgae.
“With this platform we will be able to evaluate the presence of highly productive areas, the influence of freshwater discharge on marine systems, identify environmental anomalies, in addition to generating essential information to be able to study the effects of climate change on coastal systems in the region,” explains Dr. Ricardo Giesecke, researcher at the Center for Dynamic Research of High Latitude Marine Ecosystems (IDEAL) of the Austral University of Chile (UACh), director of the project.
The data will serve to validate and adjust climate change projections, allowing the presence of atmospheric anomalies and their impact on coastal ecosystems and channels to be evaluated.
“Thanks to the use of radiometers, we will be able to generate new algorithms to have better satellite measurements of environmental parameters in the region,” declared the also academic of the Institute of Marine and Limnological Sciences of the UACh.
Dr. Giesecke highlights the importance of this platform to generate a pole of scientific development in the region, since “it allows attracting national and international researchers to study the ecosystems of Patagonia, considered sentinels of climate change. In addition, thanks to the modular design of this equipment, it allows us to incorporate more sensors in the future, as more scientific questions are developed.”
“The situation in southern Patagonia could be a scenario that we find ourselves in the Antarctic territory in 100 or 200 more years. For this reason, in order to predict what the changes in the marine ecosystem may be in the future, there is an international interest in analyzing this area,” commented Dr. Bernd Krock, a researcher at the Alfred Wegener Institute (Germany,) who participates in the “FerryBox” installation.
The project is mostly funded by the FONDEQUIP program of the National Research and Development Agency (ANID) and the Austral University of Chile, in addition to the support of the German government (BMBF,) through the Ministry of Science and Technology from the European country and contributions from the University of Oldenburg and the Alfred Wegener Institute. The equipment was manufactured in Germany by the company 4H-Jena.
Once the first data is obtained, everyone will be able to access this information for free through the STARM platform (www.starm.cl) thanks to the support of the Data Observatory Foundation (Chile).