To understand coastal waves, erosion and wave breaking, Stokes drift and wind waves, tides and much more, nothing is better than heading offshore on a plane able to fly at low altitude. You then will understand how waves form, how they “travel” over hundreds of miles for some, eventually, to come and crash on Inishmaan, right where our research station is based. But flying above the sea is always a serious risk and making sure you have the right plane and crew on board is definitely a wise decision.

IMG 6716Today I was fortunate enough to head out to sea with a maritime patrol led by Pilot Officers Barry and Ronan of 101 Squadron of the Irish Air Corps on a Casa CN235 medium-range twin turbo-prop Maritime Patrol Aircraft. As Senior Research Engineer for UCD, my duties include maritime expertise and providing best practices for the future of our sea-going scientific experiments, from a technical point of view but also compliance and safety-wise. Today my role onboard CN 235 call sign Charlie 253 was two-fold: observing waves to plan better instrumentation for our scientific projects, and devising a plan for a new Highwave research project that cannot be disclosed yet! 

As our coastal research station on Inis Meáin is shaping up, with support from the local community, we are getting ready for the deployment of our met ocean buoy.  Radio tests have been conducted between our research station and MFV Westward owned by Tommy Flaherty of Inis Mór. For the duration of the experiment the fishing vessel was connected to Inis Meáin without Sattelite of Cellular data, sometime with speeds of up to 160 Mbps which allowed video call to the mainland and streaming realtime data.


IMG 6097As some may know by now, the HIGHWAVE team recently installed our first POD (Portable Observation Device) on Inis Meain on the cliff side facing Inis Mór. Over the course of this project this large, black container will hopefully house many different instruments. One of the first instruments we did install was a film camera. IMG 6103We have pointed the camera out to sea and intend to record multiple different wave conditions. The aim of this camera is to record the effects of rain and storm conditions on the waves. The JVC camera installed in the POD has an excellent zoom which means we can record a close up of an area of water hundreds of meters away. Depending on the tilt of the camera, we can also record the waves crashing against the rocks at the base of the cliff. As a result, the camera should benefit many members of our team over the next few years.

The biggest HIGHWAVE field trip since 2019 has taken place between 9th and 11th of June. Most of the team worked together on the very first installation of the POD on Inis Mean. This was a big job, and required a lot of hands and some intricate planning.

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This is now exactly two years since I started surveying the Aran Islands with my backpack in a desperate search for a place to build a scientific mobile research station. Highwave is not a conventional research project with a few sensors deployed and swiftly recovered to retrieve a set of data that a group of scientific can digest it over a decade. It's a long term research project with real time cloud data of all kind and countless hours of supercomputer calculation bolted to the edge of a cliff... Two years and a pandemic later, there are several ways to look into Highwave

With the pandemic restrictions finally being eased, it was possible to arrange a field trip for a few team members. Claire and Tatjana have joined Arnaud on the island on 13 and 14 May to work on the new weather station.

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The Mobile Research Station (MRS) arrived on Inis Meaín at the end of August 2020. Today, the interior of the station has a working space, power outlet, and heating. For the time being, the power comes from two sources: solar panels and a generator. The wind turbine has been delivered and will be installed shortly. The mast on top of the MRS, which has lightning protection, hosts the antenna that was installed recently.

This Friday we did some preliminary tests using another antenna located 18 kilometres away! With help from Marine Engineer Michèal O`Conghaile who is now well used to work with our Sr Research Engineer, it was possible to survey the area, we examined the existing radio link to avoid interferences in the future. 

In a few weeks our very own  private encrypted microwave radio link to the mainland will provide the necessary connection between the research pods, the MRS, Basecamp, and finally make its way to the drive, where it will be accessible by everyone working on the project. 

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