2°C Wavelet Sensor Development

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The project fundraiser will complete development and testing of diver-wearable sensor technology called the 2°C Wavelet, for the purpose of monitoring reef health while divers recreate. This project aims to produce 10 prototypes for in-water testing and is The project is Endorsed by the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission as part of the Ocean Decade.

Coral reefs and other coastal marine ecosystems are threatened by climate change and other anthropogenic stressors (Gattuso et al., 2015; Hoegh-Guldberg et al., 2017). However, our ability to monitor and assess the current and future state of these vital ecosystems is severely limited (Shein 2015). Fewer than 100 coral reefs around the world have sustained and openly accessible in situ oceanographic observations. Satellite remote sensing offers an alternative for monitoring nearshore oceanographic conditions where in situ observations are unavailable. However, current satellite sensors cannot adequately resolve fine scale processes on coral reefs, and are affected by shallow and clear water, sandy bottoms, and land adjacency effects (Hochberg and Atkinson, 2003; Decker et al. 2018; Gomez et al. 2020). Further, satellite data must be calibrated andis validated against in situ observations to be of use. Thus, more observations of essential ocean variables (EOVs) such as water temperature, light, conductivity (salinity) in nearshore areas would improve satellite estimates, as well as enhance models that relate ecological processes to a changing climate. Beyond addressing conditions that affect reef vitality, a high density of nearshore observations is important for understanding socioeconomic impacts of changing ocean systems. This density can be achieved with a low-cost, easy-to-deploy technology solution in the hands of recreational scuba divers.

With accurate, low-cost automated sensor technology attached to their dive gear, recreational scuba divers can reduce environmental data gaps in variables such as temperature, salinity and light, and enhance the ability of science to identify and quantify the linkages between the physical and biological ocean and impacts due to changes in the marine environment. Observations are collected passively throughout a dive and are automatically uploaded to cloud-based servers for QC, integration with the Global Ocean Observing System and other data sources, and sharing with the scientific community.

Equally important, people are increasingly overwhelmed at the magnitude of climate change and feel detached from the science and technology that could support solutions. Long-time scuba divers lament the deterioration of once pristine reefs and local economies that depend on dive tourism are negatively impacted by that decline in reef vitality. This convergence of data gaps and an urgency by divers to be a part of the solution presents an important opportunity to engage recreational scuba divers as citizen scientists equipped with accurate, low-cost environmental sensors that automatically sample water temperature, conductivity, pressure, and light during their dives. There are approximately six million active scuba divers globally, including 2.7 to 3.5 million in the U.S. (DEMA 2019). Globally, reef tourism accounts for 70 million visitor days per year (Spalding et al. 2017). Working with the international network of scuba diving resorts, this project will leverage guest experiences to build and sustain its citizen science model.

Unfortunately, such low-cost, user-friendly technology, while feasible, does not currently exist. Current options to collect these data are prohibitively expensive, are physically too large to be carried by a diver, require advanced training or constant interaction, or all of the above. However, we have prototyped an unobtrusive, low-cost sensing system that can be carried by scuba divers. This system, dubbed the Wavelet, uses off-the-shelf components and requires no active interaction by the diver during their dive - allowing them to focus on a safe and enjoyable dive - the reason they submerged in the first place, while providing meaningful contributions to the continued protection of the reef being visited.

Goals: Our goals are twofold. First is to leverage our previous engineering and design efforts to prototype a functional low-cost oceanographic sensor that is easily and repeatedly operated by a recreational scuba diver with no prior training in its use. Second is demonstrating that our concept can quickly scale globally.

Collaborative Partners: NASA JPL, CCNY, Mission Blue, Proteus Ocean Group, MHG Ocean Impact, MarineLife2030, OCN.ai, CogniVista

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