Mapping and monitoring Norwegian’s Coastal Zone with GNSS

NIVA environmental research institute uses Leica Geosystems equipment in a sustainable research project SeaBee

NIVA (Norwegian Institute for Water Research), an environmental research institute for water-related issues, uses Leica Geosystems GNSS equipment in an exciting multi-year research project called SeaBee. SeaBee’s goal is to create a cohesive national network, enabling both people and universities to share and use data collected with geospatial technology to better understand Norway’s natural environment.

SeaBee is a large mapping project that aims to develop a toolbox for the categorization and assessment of coastal and shallow marine habitats. In this case, seagrass was of particular interest and is one of the habitats that will be mapped in specific locations around the Norwegian coast. The mapping of seagrass deposits is important because seagrass binds up and stores large amounts of CO2, and eventually becomes food for birds and microorganisms when the seagrass is eventually washed ashore and decomposes.

A number of different data capture methods are used to collect data, including a UAV with a multispectral and RGB camera, a remote-controlled boat to map the seabed and water quality, and Leica Geosystems GNSS equipment for point measurement and profiling of terrain and seagrass deposits. All collected data is fed into algorithms, aiming to develop a toolbox with various methods for mapping what is found underwater.

A research team from NIVA went out into the field around the Oslofjord and Stavern region to collect data for the project, and sales engineer Henrik Søvik from Leica Geosystems met them out in the field on a summer's day in Larvik.

NIVA invested in the Leica GS18 T GNSS RTK Rover and the Leica Zeno Mobile to georeference ground truth measurements, creating data accurate down to the scale of a centimetre. "They are among the first in the country to use the Captivate/Zeno integration. This combination across product segments ensures that NIVA benefits from both the GS18T's tilt function and powerful performance together with the ease of use of Zeno Mobile," says Aulie.

Along the coast in Norway, you will sometimes encounter areas without mobile coverage, and NIVA will then be able to use the Smart Positioning function in Zeno Mobile, which allows the user to measure points without a fix which is subsequently processed automatically. In this way, time-consuming and expensive local base systems are avoided.

To form an accurate picture of reality, it is necessary to be able to locate both the seabed and underwater vegetation. Equipped with chest waders and the GS18 T, the researchers obtained both terrain profiles of the seabed and georeferenced position on sea grass and other marine vegetation with centimetre accuracy. Since the GS18 T corrects for the angle of inclination, the team can be absolutely sure that the measurements are correct without having to keep an eye on the level bubble.

To collect data for the project, the researchers have a number of tools available such as a surface water UAV that collects water samples and other information about the seabed and vegetation, a UAV with a multispectral and RGB camera that photographs the areas in question and GNSS equipment from Leica Geosystems which provides a facsimile of the terrain.

Eventually, the researchers will have collected enough data on marine vegetation, seabed and water quality to develop a range of seagrass mapping tools, allowing them to develop a system that flies a UAV over an unknown area and automatically know what is beneath the surface.

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