Scientists and engineers at UC Bekerley are recently deployed a fleet of floating sensors into the Sacramento River in order to measure the movement of water, salinity and pollution. More from the aptly-named float.berkeley.edu:
The Floating Sensor Network team will build 100 motorized drifters, which are communication-enabled and integrate numerous sensors, including GPS, temperature, and salinity. The fleet will be deployable rapidly, in response to unanticipated events such as floods, levee breaches, and contaminant spills. The team is also working on hydrodynamic models (one and two dimensional shallow-water equations) and inverse modeling algorithms (Ensemble Kalman Filtering and its extensions) to integrate these measurements in the models.
Jointly with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories and the California Department of Water Resources, the team is developing a computational infrastructure which will run online (Web-based), and integrate in real-time the measurements from static sensors (for example, USGS permanently deployed sensing stations), mobile measurements, and any other data feed available to us, to estimate river flow and contaminant propagation in real-time, using online measurements. The results will be available to users in the form of “water maps”, that show the motion of water in real-time, and corresponding transported quantities (such as salt).
The idea of using floating, transceiver+GPS-enabled sensors to track water movement is brilliant, particularly in the case of floods. Perhaps someday every coastal city will even have similar units mounted just on-shore at beaches, to be swept out to sea in the event of a tsunami or tidal wave — such a network could provide immediate data to help track where the water is going.
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