Aqua Alta Platform

The Aqua Alta Research Platform is operated by the Oceanographic Division of the Istituto per lo Studio della Dinamica delle Grandi Masse (ISDGM), one of several organizations that make up the Italian Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR). It's an oil drilling platform, converted to oceanographic research. It has a full set of weather instruments, a CIMEL solar radiometer, radiometers to measure sea-surface radiance, and instruments that measure water temperature & salinity as a function of depth. They also take water samples from various depths for water quality analysis. The platform is located about 12 nautical miles east of Venice, in the Adriatic Sea. Water depth is only about 34 meters. Data from the CIMEL are available over the AERONET (AErosol RObotic NETwork). Just select "DATA" at the top of the page, "Level 1.5 Real Time Cloud Screened Data" from the page that comes up, and "Venise" from the table on that page.

Our primary reason for going to Venice was to work at the platform, to compare our solar radiometer with theirs, and to send up radiosondes attached to weather balloons. As it turns out, our solar radiometer did not work well enough, and neither did the data recording computer for the sonde. So we did it the old fashioned way, we launched a sonde and wrote the numbers down on paper. Fatal malfunctions of paper & pencil are few and far between.

We went out to the platform for three days in a row, six boat trips. Here are pictures of the platform, and some of the instruments.

Monday, April 2, 2001

The platform, looking back from Henetus (pronounced heh-neh-toos, which means "lagoon" in Latin, Henetus was one of two boats that run out to the platform, the other being the larger Litus, pronounced lee-toos). The towers on top hold weather instruments. The white shed on the left is the control house for instruments & samplers lowered into the water. Another instrument is lowered from the other side of the platform. The kitchen, office, workshop and living quarters are inside the open door on the second level of the red building.

Monday, April 2 2001

This is the CIMEL. The box at right center is the power supply & controller; solar power collector is the flat black plate at the far right. The double-barrell business end of the radiometer is pointig up at the sun. The radiometer tracks the sun, and periodically scans the sky in a full range of azimuth & elevation. The difference in brightness as a function of angle from the sun allows for a determination of aerosol (particle) size distribution & opacity.

Tuesday, April 3, 2001

Two instruments suspended below the water. On the right, the green instrument measures the water conductivity & salinity; it moves up & down to measure a profile of salinty as a function of depth. On the left, a water sampler returns a cannister of water from the desired depth, which is chemically tested in the shed. To the right of the picture a radiometer on a boom monitors water surface radiance.

Tuesday, April 3, 2001

Another instrument that goes all the way to the bottom. This one measures water temperature, as a function of depth.

Wednesday, April 4, 2001

To get on the platform, you jump from the boat to the catwalk (top or bottom of the picture), then swing around to the ladder and climb up. Equipment is hauled up with a winch. In rough water it can be an adventure, but we had pretty easy water most of the time.

Tuesday, April 3, 2001

Sometimes the water is not so easy. In rough water, the crew evacuates by getting into this grey rubber boat, lowering into the water, and motoring over to the larger boat. On at least one occasion the water was to rough even for that, and in the end crew members had to swim from the rubber boat to the larger boat.

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