FLOWBEC - FLOW and Benthic ECology 4D
The FLOWBEC project aims to improve the understanding of how the physical behaviour of the water such as currents, waves and turbulence at tide and wave energy sites influences the behaviour of marine wildlife, and how tide and wave energy devices might alter the behaviour of such wildlife.
The project is jointly funded by NERC and DEFRA
Grant number NE/J004332/1
- To improve understanding of the fine scale details of the flow regime in areas of high tidal and wave energy and the effects of Marine Renewable Energy Devices (MREDs) on flow conditions
- To assess the hydrodynamic habitat preferences of various relevant functional ecological groups (benthos, plankton, fish, birds & mammals), and how individual species may use preferred flow conditions for successful feeding, reproduction and other major biological activities.
- To parameterize the flowfield with and without the effects of both single and multiple MRED deployments and include the mechanistic links to ecological interactions that would enable their inclusion in wider area models and to be developed to allow predictions of large arrays of devices on the environment.
The FLOWBEC Team
Paul Bell (NOC, Liverpool) Philippe Blondel (U. Bath) Angus Creech (U. Edinburgh) Daniel Conley (U. Plymouth)
Graham Savidge (Queens U. Belfast) Beth Scott (U. Aberdeen) Lars Johanning (U. Exeter) Ian Ashton (U. Exeter)
Ricardo Torres (PML) Benjamin Williamson (U. Bath/U.Aberdeen) James Waggit (U. Aberdeen) Bob Kennedy (NUI. Galway) Jack O'Carroll (NUI. Galway)
Data Management: British Oceanographic Data Centre (Sean Gaffney)
Work will be conducted at three marine renewable energy test sites - EMEC, WaveHub and Strangford Lough. A range of measurement and modelling systems will be used to to improve our understanding of the interaction of hydrodynamics and the wildlife found around them.
The view from the EMEC substation on Eday overlooking the Tidal Energy Test Site. Photo by Paul Bell.
Summer 2013 - FLOWBEC frame deployments at EMEC tidal test site & wave test site
Two deployments of the frame were carried out at the EMEC tidal site led by the University of Aberdeen team – one within metres of the Atlantis Turbine Piling, and the other at a control site away from turbine infrastructure. Both deployments used a new mooring methodology that did not require trailing mooring lines and relied on an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to attach the recovery line – successful in both instances. Simultaneous radar and shore observations were made during the deployments, and data return for both two-week deployments has been excellent.
Following on from the success of the tidal site deployments, two further two-week deployments of the frame were carried out at the EMEC Billia Croo wave site using conventional mooring lines for deployment and recovery. The frame was successfully recovered both times and data return has been excellent. Simultaneous radar and shore based observations were made from this site too.
Summer 2013 - Benthic Survey using Drop-down Video Completed in Strangford Narrows
A spatially highly resolved benthic survey using a dropdown video system was successfully carried out in summer 2013 in the immediate vicinity of the SeaGen tidal turbine in the Strangford Narrows. The video data are currently being analysed by the Queens University Belfast team. A fine scale resolution model of flow around a conceptualised tidal turbine in a narrow strait has been developed and will be applied to SeaGen.
June 2012 - First FLOWBEC frame deployment at EMEC tidal test site
Researchers from the Universities of Bath and Aberdeen together with Marine Scotland Science have mounted two state-of-the-art sonar systems on a sea bed frame close to a tidal energy structure to monitor fish and other wildlife that pass through the area and how they interact with the installation. These sonars are normally operated from the surface looking down at the sea-bed. For the first time they have been adapted to operate autonomously for several weeks, imaging a full 'acoustic curtain' along the tidal flow and around the structure in a highly challenging environment.
The researchers are working together to identify the wildlife detected by the monitoring systems, how the various species preferentially use areas of water with different characteristics, and how the surrounding environment is affected by the presence of the structure.
The team deployed the sea bed frame for two weeks at the end of June 2012 and has now begun processing the data.
Above Left: Beth Scott, Benjamin Williamson and James Waggit plan the frame deployment at the EMEC tidal test site. Photo by Paul Bell
Above Right: Benjamin Williamson and Eric Armstrong prepare the frame for deployment. Photo by Beth Scott.
November 2011 - Radar Deployments
At the EMEC tidal test site on Eday a marine X-band radar coupled to a Wamos recording system has been deployed for the duration of the project. It produces images of the sea surface and anything on the water surface or in the air close to the surface over a range of a few kilometers and with a range resolution of 5-10m. Sample images from this system can be found by clicking the link in the 'Marine X-Band Radar' section below.
At WaveHub, the study site is 20km from the shore and is out of range for a shore based X-band radar. At this site a much longer range High Frequency WERA Radar is being used to map the currents and wave climate of the whole region on a 1km grid.
Marine X-Band Radar - Radar derived currents now available to view.
A marine X-Band radar with 2.4m high speed antenna was deployed at the EMEC tidal test site substation during 2011. It is coupled to a Wamos recording system taking records of 256 images (about 5 minute sequence) every 30 minutes to a range of 4.8km. Summary images are sent back to the NOC via the internet and are updated on our servers approximately hourly.
As of summer 2014, a new wave inversion algorithm has been operating on the radar data to produce tidal currents automatically after every radar record is collected. To view these radar derived current plots, please select the 'mean' image in the viewer. Please not that in the absence of sufficient waves on the radar images, currents cannot be calculated and so an automated QC process blanks out such points in the results.
The marine X-band radar summary images and current vector plots can be viewed using this link: View latest and archived images »
Aberdeen University are awarded an InnovateUK KTP in association with Meygen Ltd.
Aberdeen university have recently been awarded a InnovateUK Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Meygen Ltd. The KTP associate, Dr Benjamin Williamson will work with Meygen to explore the further development and possible application of the FLOWBEC frame to their planned tidal site in the Inner Sound of Stroma. Dr Beth Scott will act as the primary knowledge Base Advisor, with Dr Philippe Blondel (University of Bath) and Dr Paul Bell (NOC Liverpool) as additional Knowledge Base Advisors.
KTP Update November 2015: FLOWBEC Frame successfully deployed and recovered at the Meygen Site
MeyGen are involved in a two year Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of Aberdeen to develop an environmental monitoring system for Phase 1a. Using the expertise of Dr Benjamin Williamson and the lessons learned from the FLOWBEC project. Flowbec was successfully installed on 8th October 2015. The successful trial gathered 10.5 days of data on the multibeam echosounder, EK60, Hydrophone, ADCP. Initial analysis shows a good baseline dataset to inform future deployments with the operational turbines. See Meygen Newsletter, February 2016
Publications & Conference Presentations
Scott, Beth; Philpott, Evelyn; Langton, Rebecca and Waggitt, James, 2012. Seabirds and marine renewables: Are we asking the right questions? The Environmental Interactions Of Marine Renewable Energy Technologies, EIMR International Conference, 1 - 3 May 2012, Kirkwall, Orkney.
Benjamin Williamson, Philippe Blondel, 2012. Multibeam imaging of the environment around marine renewable energy devices. European Conference on Underwater Acoustics (ECUA) 2012, 2nd - 6th July, 2012, Edinburgh, UK. The Powerpoint slides from this talk can be downloaded as a PDF here.
Bell, Paul; Lawrence, John; Norris, Jennifer. 2012 Determining currents from marine radar data in an extreme current environment at a tidal energy test site. In: Proceedings of the IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium 2012. IEEE, July 22-27 2012, Munich.
Proença, B., Conley, D. & D. Greaves, 2012, "Initial Evaluation of a WERA HF Radar as a Resource Assessment Tool for Wave Energy". Proc. Intl. Conf. on Ocean Energy, Dublin
Blondel PH & Williamson BJ 2013. Long term multibeam measurements around a tidal turbine test site in Orkney, Scotland. Proceedings of the Institute of Acoustics, Institute of Acoustics Spring Conference, Nottingham, 13 May 2013, Vol 35 Pt 1. p. 322-329.
Waggitt J.J., Lieber L. Williamson B.,Blondel Ph., Brierley A., Fernandes P.G., Jones C.S., Noble L.R.,Scott B.E. Novel uses of Hydroacoustic Methods to record fine-scale Predator-Prey interactions in marine habitats. Poster presentation at the MASTS ASM. 27th-29th August 2013. Heriot-Watt University Conference Centre, UK.
Waggitt J.J.,Williamson B.,Bell P.S.,Blondel Ph., Scott B.E. Understanding seabird behaviours in high energy habitats: concurrent collection of physical and biological datasets. Oral presentation at the MASTS ASM. 27th-29th August 2013. Heriot-Watt University Conference Centre, UK.
Ian G.C. Ashton, Joana Van Nieuwkoop, Helen C.M. Smith, Lars Johanning, George H. Smith, Detailed resource assessment, including intra-site variability, for marine renewable energy. In proceedings of the 10th European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference, Aalborg, Denmark 2-5th Sep 2013
Lopez, G., Conley, D.C., Greaves, D. and D. Magagna, 2013, "Adjusting an Empirical algorithm for Extracting Wave Height from HF Radar", In proceedings of the 10th European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference 2013, Aalborg, Denmark 2-5th Sep 2013
Waggitt J.J., Williamson B.,Bell P.S.,Blondel Ph., Scott B.E. Using a multi-disciplinary approach to quantify spatial overlap between deep diving seabirds and tidal stream turbines. Oral presentation at the ICES ASM. 23rd-27th September 2013. Harpa Conference Centre, Reykjavík, Iceland
Waggitt J.J, Allcock, Z.; Robbins A.M,C.; Wade H.; Bell, P.S.; Scott B.E.; Masden, E.A.; Jackson, A.C ;Furness, R.W. The importance of collaborative research when making government level decisions: an example with top predators and marine renewable energy installations. Oral/Poster presentation at the ICES ASM. 23rd-27th September 2013. Harpa Conference Centre, Reykjavík, Iceland
B.J. Williamson, P.S. Blondel, J. Waggitt, P.S. Bell, B.E. Scott (2013). FLOWBEC: Long-term measurements of the environment around marine renewable energy devices. Poster and short talk at the ICES Annual Science Conference, 2013.
Waggitt, J.J.; Williamson, B.J.; Blondel, Ph.; Bell, P.S.; Scott, B.E. (2013) Investigating seabird associations with fine-scale hydrodynamic processes: how do individuals search for foraging opportunities. Poster presentation at the Movement and Dispersal Conference, Aberdeen University, 11-12 November 2013
Ashton IGC, Van-Nieuwkoop JCC, Smith HCM, Johanning L. (2014)Spatial variability of waves within a marine energy site using in-situ measurements and a high resolution spectral wave model. Energy, pages 699-710, DOI:10.1016/j.energy.2013.12.065.
Waggitt JJ, Armstrong E, Bell PS, Blondel Ph, Cazenave P. Hall C, Torres R, Williamson BJ, Scott BE. , (2014). Using concurrent predator, prey and oceanographic information to understand seabird foraging distributions at fine spatiotemporal scales. Poster presentation at the 12th International Conference Of The Seabird Group, 21-23rd March 2014, Oxford University, UK.
Williamson BJ, Waggitt JJ, Armstrong E, Bell PS, Blondel Ph, Hall C, Scott BE (2014). Using a multi-instrument seabed frame to record underwater interactions between diving seabirds, prey, hydrodynamics and turbine structures. Poster presentation at the 12th International Conference Of The Seabird Group, 21-23rd March 2014, Oxford University, UK.
Waggitt JJ, Scott BE, Williamson BJ, Cazenave P, Torres R, Bell PS. (2014) Understanding fine-scale foraging distributions of deep diving seabirds reveals variations in potential interactions with tidal stream turbines. Oral presentation at the Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences Postgraduate symposium. 3rd-4th April 2014, Zoology Building, Aberdeen, UK.
Bell P.S. (2014), Marine Renewable Energy. National Science and Engineering Week Seminar Organised by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee (P&SC) on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Thursday 20th March 2014 Attlee Suite, Portcullis House. Follow up Article in “Science in Parliament” magazine, The Journal of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, Whitsun 2014 issue p34-36.
Benjamin Williamson, Philippe Blondel, Paul Bell, James Waggitt, Beth Scott. (2014) FLOWBEC: A self-contained subsea platform for environmental monitoring around marine renewable energy devices. Oral presentation at All Energy 2014, Aberdeen, 14th May 2014.
Bell PS, McCann DL, Scott BE, Williamson BJ. Waggitt JJ, Ashton I, Johanning L, Blondel Ph, Creech A, Ingram D, Norris J, Finn M, Torres R, Cazenave P, Conley D, Greaves D, Savidge G, Armstrong E, Hall C, Kennedy R, O'Carroll J. (2014) FLow and Benthic ECology 4D - FLOWBEC - an overview. Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Environmental Interactions of Marine Renewable Energy Technologies (EIMR2014), 28 April – 02 May 2014, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland.
Waggitt JJ, Scott BE, Williamson BJ, Cazenave P, Torres R, Bell PS. (2014) A combination of empirical and modelled datasets reveals associations between deep diving seabirds and oceanographical processes at fine spatiotemporal scales in a high energy habitat. Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Environmental Interactions of Marine Renewable Energy Technologies (EIMR2014), 28 April – 02 May 2014, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland.
Williamson BJ, Scott BE, Waggitt JJ, Blondel Ph, Armstrong E, Hall C, Bell PS. (2014) Using the FLOWBEC seabed frame to understand underwater interactions between diving seabirds, prey hydrodynamics and tidal and wave structures. Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Environmental Interactions of Marine Renewable Energy Technologies (EIMR2014), 28 April – 02 May 2014, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Winner of best oral presentation
Ashton I, Johanning L, Argall R, Nicholls-Lee R, (2014), Monitoring spatial variability for marine energy sites. Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Environmental Interactions of Marine Renewable Energy Technologies (EIMR2014), 28 April – 02 May 2014, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland.
P. S. Bell, D. L. McCann, Crammond, S., McIlvenny, J., Dufar, J., Archer, P.(2014) Marine radar derived current vector mapping at a planned commercial tidal array in the Pentland Firth. Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Environmental Interactions of Marine Renewable Energy Technologies (EIMR2014), 28 April – 02 May 2014, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland.
Scott, B.E. (2014), What’s Next and Why? A look ahead at strategic ecological research direction. Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Environmental Interactions of Marine Renewable Energy Technologies (EIMR2014), 28 April – 02 May 2014, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland.
Jack P.J. O’Carroll, Robert M. Kennedy, Angus Creech, Graham Savidge, (2014) FLOWBEC: Assessing spatial variation in epifaunal communities in response to flow modification by a tidal stream turbine. Poster Presentation, Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Environmental Interactions of Marine Renewable Energy Technologies (EIMR2014), 28 April – 02 May 2014, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland.
P. W. Cazenave, R. Torres (2014) , Modelling the coastal and nearshore zones with the FVCOM unstructured model. Challenger conference special interest group for Coastal and Nearshore Processes.
P. W. Cazenave, R. Torres, I. Allen (2014) , Offshore renewable energy device impacts on seasonally stratified seas around the UK: an unstructured modelling approach. Partnership for Research in Marine Renewable Energy (PRIMARE) 1st Annual conference, 4-5 June 2014, Plymouth
Williamson BJ, Blondel Ph, Waggitt JJ, Bell PS, Scott BE. (2014) Field deployments of a self-contained subsea platform for acoustic monitoring of the environment around marine renewable energy structures. Oral presentation at the Underwater Acoustics Conference. 22nd-27th June 2014, Rhodes, Greece.
Benjamin Williamson, Philippe Blondel, James Waggitt, Paul Bell, Beth Scott. (2014) FLOWBEC: Understanding interactions between diving seabirds, prey, hydrodynamics and tidal and wave energy structures. Poster presentation at Energy Ocean Conference, New Jersey, 14th June 2014.
Williamson BJ, Scott BE, Waggitt JJ, Blondel Ph, Armstrong E, Hall C, Bell PS., (2014) Field Deployments of a Self-Contained Subsea Platform for Acoustic Monitoring of the Environment around Marine Renewable Energy Structures. MTS/IEEE Oceans 2014 Conference, St Johns, Newfoundland, Canada, 14-19 September 2014.
McCann DL & Bell PS (2014) Marine Radar Derived Current Vector Mapping at a Planned Commercial Tidal Stream Turbine Array in the Pentland Firth, U.K. MTS/IEEE Oceans 2014 Conference, St Johns, Newfoundland, Canada, 14-19 September 2014.
Waggitt J.J., Bell P.S. & Scott B.E. (2014) An evaluation of the use of shore-based surveys for estimating spatial overlap between deep-diving seabirds and tidal stream turbines. International Journal of Marine Energy. (in Press) DOI: 10.1016/j.ijome.2014.10.004.
Williamson B.J., Blondel Ph., Waggitt J.J., Fraser S., Bell P.S. & Scott B.E. (2014) Field deployments of a self-contained subsea platform for acoustic monitoring of the environment around Marine Renewable Energy structures. Poster Presentation at the International Conference on Ocean Energy, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, November 4-6, 2014.
Bell P.S. & McCann D.L. (2014) Marine Radar Derived Current Vector Mapping at a Planned Commercial Tidal Stream Turbine Array in the Pentland Firth. Poster Presentation at the International Conference on Ocean Energy, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, November 4-6, 2014.
Williamson, B.J.; Blondel, P. ; Armstrong, E. ; Bell, P.S. ; Hall, C. ; Waggitt, J.J. ; Scott, B.E., (2015), A Self-Contained Subsea Platform for Acoustic Monitoring of the Environment Around Marine Renewable Energy Devices - Field Deployments at Wave and Tidal Energy Sites in Orkney, Scotland. IEEE JOURNAL OF OCEANIC ENGINEERING, (in press), DOI: 10.1109/JOE.2015.2410851.
Ocean Business : Special Session on Wave and Tidal energy - Update on technology and tools to de risk and streamline development, Seminar room, NOC Southampton SO14 3ZH, Thursday April 16th 2015, 12 til 6pm:
Paul Bell and David McCann – Application of X band radar for resource assessment : case studies from EMEC and the Inner Sound, Pentland Firth;
Benjamin Williamson and Beth Scott – Development of the FLOWBEC rig – monitoring wildlife interactions with tidal turbines;
Paul S. Bell, David L. McCann, John Lawrence, Jennifer V. Norris, 2015, Remote Detection of Sea Surface Roughness Signatures Related to Subsurface Bathymetry, Structures and Tidal Stream Turbine Wakes. 11th European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference (EWTEC 2015), Nantes, France, 6-11 September 2015
Benjamin J. Williamson, Philippe Blondel, Shaun J. Fraser, James J. Waggitt, Paul S. Bell, Beth E. Scott, 2015, Field deployments of the self-contained FLOWBEC platform for acoustic monitoring of the environment around Marine Renewable Energy structures. 11th European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference (EWTEC 2015), Nantes, France, 6-11 September 2015
James J. Waggitt; Pierre W. Cazenave; Paul Bell ; Ian Davies ; Ricardo Torres ; Benjamin J. Williamson ; P. Miller ; J. Bowcott ; Beth E. Scott. An importance of tidal stream energy among coastally foraging seabirds highlights indirect impacts of tidal stream turbine arrays, Oral presentation at the 2nd World Seabird Conference, Cape Town, 26th-30th October 2015.
Waggitt, J.J.: Robbins, A.M.C. ; Wade, H. M. ; Masden, E. ; Furness, R.W. ; Jackson, A.C. ; Mackay, Z. ; Scott, B.E. Using comparative studies to test for consistencies in seabirds’ spatial and temporal use of tidal pass habitats in Scotland, UK. Poster presentation at the 2nd World Seabird Conference, Cape Town, 26th-30th October 2015.
Waggitt, J.J. ; Cazenave, P.; Torres, P.; Williamson, B.J.; Scott, B.E., (2016), Quantifying pursuit diving seabirds’ associations with fine-scale physical features in a high tidal energy environment. Journal of Applied Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12646
Waggitt, J.J., (2016), 'Seabirds, Cetations and Tidal Energy', Guest Speaker at the RSPB Seabird Centre, South Stack, 16th January 2016
Meygen Newsletter, February 2016 , including FLOWBEC Project Update - FLOWBEC frame successfully deployed and recovered during October-November 2015
Williamson, B.J.; Fraser, S.; Blondel, Ph., Bell, P.S., Waggitt, J.J., Scott, B.E., (2016), 'Integrating a multibeam and a multifrequency echosounder on the FLOWBEC seabed platform to track fish and seabird behaviour around tidal turbine structures'. 4th Annual Marine Energy Technology Symposium (METS) 2016, 25-27 April 2016, Washington D.C., USA. WINNER OF BEST PRESENTATION AWARD!
Waggitt, J.J., Cazenave, P.W., Torres, R., Williamson, B.J., Scott, B.E., (2016), Predictable hydrodynamic conditions explain temporal variations in the density of benthic foraging seabirds in a tidal stream environment ICES J. Mar. Sci. DOI: 10.1093/icesjms/fsw100
S. Fraser, V. Nikora, B.J. Williamson, B.E. Scott (2016). Characterising turbulence in a tidal channel using observations from seabed platform deployments. Challenger Society for Marine Science 16th Biennial Conference. Liverpool, UK, September 2016. WINNER: NORMAN HEAPS PRIZE FOR BEST EARLY CAREER ORAL PRESENTATION!
B.J. Williamson, S. Fraser, Ph. Blondel, P. Bell, J.J. Waggitt, B.E. Scott (2016). Integrating a multibeam and a multifrequency echosounder on the FLOWBEC platform to track fish and seabird behaviour around tidal turbine structures. Challenger Society for Marine Science 16th Biennial Conference. Liverpool, UK, September 2016.
B.J. Williamson; S. Fraser 2; Ph. Blondel; P.S. Bell; J.J. Waggitt; B.E. Scott, (2016), Multi-Sensor Acoustic Tracking of Fish and Seabird Behavior Around Tidal Turbine Structures in Scotland, UK Accepted for publication in IEEE J.Oceanic Engineering