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May 2016

Malta-Sicily CALYPSO Observing Network Enhanced

Additional SeaSonde unit installed in Sicily for coverage expansion

As part of the project and to increase network coverage, a new SeaSonde station has been commissioned in Marina
di Ragusa, Italy during December 2015 by Qualitas Remos company (www.qualitasremos.com) under the
coordination of the Sicilian focal point of the project, University of Palermo. This new station has been integrated into
the existing Malta-Sicily CALYPSO network, now consisting of 4 SeaSonde stations (2 in Sicily and 2 in Malta)
providing 2D surface currents maps with higher spatial coverage.
Surface currents map showing ‘CALYPSO’ gyreSurface currents map showing ‘CALYPSO’ gyre
Surface currents map showing ‘CALYPSO’ gyre


The risk of oil spills beaching on shores, impacting important economic resources and causing irreversible environmental damage is a very realistic threat in the stretch of sea between Malta and Sicily as this region is situated along the main shipping lanes of the Mediterranean Sea. Risks can be highly minimized by using the best tools for surveillance, operational monitoring against pollution threats as well as improving capacity to respond with informed decisions in case of emergency.

With the main target of improving joint preparedness and response capabilities against major oil spills in this area, a state of the art SeaSonde HF radar network was constructed in 2013 as part of the international CALYPSO Project to monitor sea surface currents in real-time within the Malta-Sicily Channel. The CALYPSO Follow-On (FO) intensive 6- month project is a continuation of CALYPSO resulting from its success.

The CALYPSO FO partnership comprises one Maltese partner, the Physical Oceanography Research Group from the University of Malta (as project leader), and four Sicilian partners: University of Palermo, Istituto Ambiente Marino Costiero – CNR IAMC, University of Catania (CUTGANA) and ARPA SICILIA – Agenzia Regionale per la Protezione dell’Ambiente. Both projects were partially supported through ERDF funds under the Italia-Malta Cohesion Policy for 2007-2013.

Coastguards, civil protection organizations, harbor authorities and local environmental protection agencies in both Malta and Sicily stand to benefit from this enhanced HF radar network. The CALYPSO data is shedding new light on the dynamics of the sea in this part of the Mediterranean, leading to research efforts also related to improved forecasting of the marine environment, protection from oil spills, search and rescue, safer maritime transportation and fisheries. As an example, a new and previously unknown persistent gyre that moves and stretches in time in the Malta-Sicily Channel has been discovered thanks to the HF radar measurements; project partners have informally named this structure the “CALYPSO Gyre”.

Figure 2: Canary Current and monitoring area of the HF Radar System in Casablanca and Temara

“Kaptan” mobile application screen shots
of SeaSonde ocean surface currents (left)
and satellite-derived Sea Surface Temperature (right)



The Physical Oceanography Research Group of the University of Malta has also developed a web service and mobile application called “Kaptan" as part of CALYPSO FO (available for iPhone at iTunes app store and for Android on Google Play app store).
Kaptan uses HF radar operational data, satellite data and numerical models to provide useful information on the present and predicted sea conditions in the Malta-Sicily Channel as an aid to mariners for safer navigation.

The Final CALYPSO FO meeting was held on the 2nd December 2015 at the University of Catania. Project partners, high officials from national and regional government, Italian civil protection, Hydrographic Office of the Italian Navy, CSSN I.T.E., coastguard and others attended the meeting.

In the words of Prof. Aldo Drago (leader of CALYPSO) “the CALYPSO project will not stop here, and plans are already in place to extend the monitoring of currents south of Malta with obvious implications in aid to the Armed Forces of Malta and the Italian coastguard for rescuing persons in distress at sea, especially in this hot area of illegal immigration”.

For further information about the CALYPSO and CALYPSO FO projects please visit http://www.capemalta.net/calypso.

CALYPSO FO final meeting and workshop


SeaSonde in the Marina Di Ragusa, Italy









                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          




 

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