US: Fugro and Areté Associates developed a system that measures the surface current of the sea. The system uses a combination of digital camera technology and positioning systems, together with advanced algorithms, to derive surface currents from wave spectra measurements. It can be deployed on a suitable survey aircraft together with an inertial navigation system augmented by Fugro’s Starfix satellite positioning system. The partners claim that ROCIS is the first commercially available system of its kind.
When in use, current data is reviewed in real-time on-board the aircraft, providing continuous assessment of data quality and the location of strong currents. Within an hour of the aircraft landing, the system produces a “quick-look” map of the currents over the area. Processed data files are available a few hours later. During the program, ROCIS data supported day-to-day operational planning and enhanced the accuracy of 3D hydrodynamic current forecast modeling.
The system can provide near-synoptic, wide area, high-resolution, and high-integrity surface current measurements that allow sub-mesoscale circulation to be measured and monitored. During a four-hour flight, the system can survey ocean currents at 250-m (820-ft) intervals over a track of 900-1,100 km (559-683 mi).
Given sufficient daylight hours, two ROCIS flight missions can be conducted each day, according to the companies. Services can be provided to single or multiple clients to monitor offshore current conditions over specific locations or a broad area. The system can also provide support in emergency situations such as oil spill and search and rescue.
The companies are working on further development of the ROCIS system and services, including the use of expendable probes and the incorporation of additional airborne sensors. Later this year, Fugro will add a second ROCIS unit.