Community assembly; Biodiversity; High-resolution water column sampling; Small-scale stratification and turbulence; Vehicle formation control; Niche differentiation; Distributed localization; Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV)
Leach Taylor H., Ibelings Bastiaan W., Verburg Piet (2017), Patterns and drivers of deep chlorophyll maxima structure in 100 lakes: The relative importance of light and thermal stratification, in Limnology and Oceanography
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Rasconi Serena, Kainz Martin J., Ibelings Bastiaan W. (2017), Limnological research in and around the European Alps–Linking up research stations, people, ideas, and perspectives for SIL at an inter-regional scale, in Inland Waters
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Marcé Rafael, Ibelings Bastiaan W., Jennings Eleanor (2016), Automated high frequency monitoring for improved lake and reservoir management, in Environmental Science and Technology
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Sommer Tobias, Danza F. Berg J. Sengupta A. Constantinescu G. Tokyay T. Buergmann H. Dressler Y., Sepulveda Steiner Oscar, Schubert C.J. Tonolla M., Wueest Alfred, Bacteria-induced mixing in natural waters, in Geophysical Research Letters
Schill Felix, Bahr Alexander, Martinoli Alcherio, Vertex: A New Distributed Underwater Robotic Platform for Environmental Monitoring, in Distributed Autonomous Robotic Systems (DARS 2016), Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics (STAR)
The long-term goal of the proposed project is building the capacity and expertise in underwater-robot-based sampling for mapping physical-chemical-biological quantities at high spatial and temporal resolution in many lakes worldwide. Practically, its goal is to produce high-resolution scans of the water column over tens and hundreds of meters at cm- (vertical) to dm-scales (horizontal). Besides the classical applications of tracing and mapping, this technology will prove essential for the interdisciplinary study of small-scale processes such as small-scale mixing processes and their impact on phytoplankton dynamics and diversity. The initial goal of this proposed three-year project is to further develop an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), which will be prototyped before the start of this project. This AUV is built from the bottom up to allow for highly innovative distributed robotic concepts. Within this project, up to four coordinated vehicles will each simultaneously probe eight sensing modalities, but the hardware as well as the control algorithms will be scalable to dozens of vehicles. This will require the combination of methods and technologies, available in two large bodies of robotics research, in an unprecedented way: distributed robotics (where until now most achievements were obtained using ground and flying platforms) and underwater robotics. As a first step we will focus on the optimization of the individual technologies necessary for the investigation of the small-scale phenomena in lakes, such as motion control, sensor noise reduction and coordination of multiple AUVs. We will start with using individual AUVs for sampling physical and biological variables in a well-defined scientific context and will then systematically scale to more heterogeneous and energetic lake waters while operating up to four simultaneously sampling AUVs. With such field studies in four different lakes in Switzerland, we aim to unravel small-scale physical processes in lakes in two- to three-dimensional structures, such as shear- and thermal-induced turbulence, patchiness of properties, micro-stratification and submesoscale lateral structures. Besides the small-scale physical characterization of the water column, the quantification of the small-scale structuring of phytoplankton diversity in response to the physical structure is a clear focus of the project. The ultimate scientific goal of our project is to understand how the interaction between small-scale mixing processes and gradients of key phytoplankton resources like nutrients or light determine phytoplankton biodiversity in alpine lakes. The key hypothesis we aim to test, using the AUVs, is that climate warming has resulted in enhanced physical structure of the water column, generating a more heterogeneous lake environment allowing a larger number of plankton species to co-exist through spatial niche differentiation. This is hypothesized to promote plankton biodiversity. The phytoplankton studies proposed here aim to collect high quality data on the spatial and temporal reorganization of lake phytoplankton in response to dynamics in fine-scale physics. The proposed development opens perspectives for a large set of experiments and field studies in aquatic ecology worldwide, and will be supported by the new possibilities of remote sensing.