science 9.1.2015 15:11

New Water Current Meter to Secure Better Protection of N Adriatic

Piran, 9 January - An advanced system for current and wave measurements in the northern Adriatic was set up at the Marine Biology Station Piran last year as part of the Hazadr European project. Researchers believe the measurements will bring new insights into water flows in the Gulf of Trieste and enable more effective reactions to potential accidents and spills.

Raziskovalec Matjaž Ličer z Morske biološke postaje Piran.
Foto: STA

The Trieste Gulf has shallow waters and is under relatively strong environmental strain. Two large ports with heavy traffic are active in the gulf, which increases the chances of accidents, researcher Matjaž Ličer notes.

Therefore a system was set up in September as part of the Hazadr project, which collects data on waves and currents in the Gulf of Trieste. In the event of a spill, it will for instance be possible to predict the movement of the oil slick and thereby improve the effectiveness of the emergency services.

"If we are familiar with the detailed movement of surface currents and waves, we can give better instructions to the civil protection on where to go and how to contain the slick the most effectively," Ličer said.

The other aspect is the research potential. Data from the system with a resolution of a few hundred metres will provide more accurate mathematical models of water circulation in the northern Adriatic.

"It is indeed true generally speaking that the water flows north along the Croatian coast, while it flows back south along the Italian coast, but this is a generalised model. Many events, for instance winds or river mouths, can completely change the movements in a certain area," Ličer stressed.

He believes there are between five to ten such measuring systems in the Adriatic, around 30 are to be found in the Mediterranean, while there are between 200 and 300 of them around the world.

Researchers of the Marine Biology Station Piran, which is part of the National Biology Institute, installed two transmitting antennas and several receiving antennas along the Piran cape.

The system presently enables the detection of radial water movements, meaning in the direction towards the receivers. When a similar system is set up by the Italian colleagues on the other side of the gulf, it will be possible to obtain an actual image of the water flows.