Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


CODE GSC5504

 
TITLE Instrumentation and Ocean Data Systems

 
UM LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course

 
MQF LEVEL 7

 
ECTS CREDITS 5

 
DEPARTMENT Geosciences

 
DESCRIPTION The main target of this study-unit is to introduce the students to the instrumentation used in oceanography and the ocean data systems. Key elements that will be addressed in the study-unit are spread over four sub-sections consisting of:
- Introduction to Ocean Data Sources and Data Types;
- Data acquisition systems from an engineering point of view;
- Ocean Remote Sensing and In-situ Observations; and
- Ocean Data Management.

An overview of the instrumentation concepts and the fundamentals of sensing techniques applied to the marine environment with a focus on satellite and airborne platforms; the use of sensors to monitor both physical (eg. sea surface temperature measured by infrared sensors, anomalies of sea surface height measured by altimeters, sea winds measured by scatterometers) and biological (water color measured by optical sensors) properties of the marine ecosystem in ocean and coastal domains; the image visual display, analysis and interpretation of digital image data with applications in the context of ocean processes.

Two other aspects covered in this study unit are:
(1) the basics of data acquisition systems from an engineering perspective, including signal conditioning, conversion and processing, basics of telemetry, wireless sensor networking, and wireline and wireless data transmission; and
(2) data management principles – why data needs to be catalogued, about different components of the data management process, about meta-data and its role in data discovery.

Study-Unit Aims:

- Introduce the students to the instrumentation used in oceanography and the ocean data systems;
- Provide an overview of the marine data acquisition: from a variety of instruments required to study an ocean phenomena, functions and limits of such instruments, data acquisition, and data management;
- Deal with technical aspects underlying metocean data acquisition sensors and platforms with a focus on satellite observations, as well as a mathematical basis for the quantified description and interpretation of oceanic processes.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Describe the concept and practice of operational oceanography for the systematic and long-term routine measurements of the seas and oceans and atmosphere, and the rapid interpretation and dissemination of information;
- Explain the national, regional and international frameworks and programmes for coordinating and implementing efforts in operational oceanography with a focus on Europe;
- Describe the ocean and coastal observing and forecasting systems in operational oceanography, technical and theoretical aspects related to metocean observations, operational monitoring platforms, state-of-the-art instrumentation and sensor technology, understanding their performance (including limitations and configurations) and understanding their basic functions and use to the benefit of specific applications;
- Describe the process of acquisition and the nature of the information in remote sensing for the comprehensive study of the sea and the applications to oceanographic studies, with a focus on satellite platforms providing multi-disciplinary information on physical (sea surface temperature measured by infrared sensors, anomalies of sea surface height measured by altimeters, sea winds measured by scatterometers) and biological (chlorophyll and suspended sediment concentration from ocean colour measured by optical sensors) properties of the marine environment;
- Identify the advantages and limitations of remote sensing methods in oceanography, and how these factors affect the interpretation of upper ocean measurements;
- Explain the synergy arising from using remote sensing methods alongside conventional in situ oceanographic observations;
- Describe the workings and limitations of transducers and sensors typically used for oceanographic measurements;
- Demonstrate an understanding of the fundamentals of signal conditioning, conversion and processing;
- Characterise the operation of data management systems.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- List the best sensors for use in different in-situ measurement set-ups;
- Apply the scientific method in the design of studies and assessments, in establishing feasible sampling and surveying protocols, in the sound interpretation of data, and in deriving meaningful conclusions;
- Explain the data measurement basics & definitions (units, accuracy, precision, error, uncertainty, sensitivity, statistical analysis, etc.) and an in-depth knowledge of transducers and sensors used to observe the sea;
- Apply remote sensing data acquired from the main systems observing the oceans (especially from space), with practice in basic image processing and data analysis and interpretation using MATLAB and typical software tools (like BILKO) for the monitoring, assessment and management of the marine environment;
- Explain the synergy arising from using remote sensing methods alongside conventional in situ oceanographic observations;
- Identify and describe suitable systems, technologies and tools to measure and monitor coastal and marine environments;
- Create and investigate meta-data records.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

- Operational Oceanography in the 21st Century (2011 Edition) by Andreas Schiller & Gary B. Brassington, Springer, 762 pp.
- Descriptive Physical Oceanography (DPO) (6th edition) (2011) by Pickard, Emery, Talley, Swift. Academic Press, 560pp.
- Discovering the Ocean from Space: The unique applications of satellite oceanography (2010 Edition) by Ian S. Robinson. Springer, 638 pp.

 
ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-Requisite qualifications: Preferably a first degree which includes any two in combination of the following subjects: mathematics, physics (including computational physics), IT, and statistics as well as to applicants with an engineering degree. Students with a degree in just one of these subjects, in conjunction with biology, chemistry and geography will also be considered if the maximum course uptake numbers are not reached. Mature students and professionals with experience and already engaged on related jobs will be eligible for admission.

 
STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Independent Study

 
METHOD OF ASSESSMENT
Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Sept. Asst Session Weighting
Assignment SEM1 Yes 40%
Examination (1 Hour and 30 Minutes) SEM1 Yes 60%

 
LECTURER/S Joel Azzopardi
Marvin Bugeja
Charles Galdies
Anthony Galea
Adam Gauci

 

 
The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2023/4. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.

https://www.um.edu.mt/course/studyunit