“LoVe has produced a string of scientific surprises over the course of the two years that it has been operating,” says Olav Rune Godø, the research scientist who manages the project.
LoVe is an acronym for Lofoten–Vesterålen Cabled Observatory. It all started in 2013, when Statoil and the Institute of Marine Research installed the first observation platform – or node – on a coral reef at Hovden off Bø in Vesterålen. Data and photos from this platform are sent ashore via a cable, and can be directly accessed over the Internet.
The Research Council of Norway’s support will pave the way for a significant expansion of the project, including additional observation platforms to monitor both the relatively narrow continental shelf in this area and the deep sea as far down as 2,000 metres.
“This award means that we can establish an observation system that will allow us to relate new findings to a wider context. We will now be able to monitor the warm water passing the Lofoten Islands, which carries recruitment recruiting age cohorts of year classes of fish to the cold and ‘barren’ Barents Sea. Similarly we will be able to estimate the size and composition of the large schools of fish that migrate past LoVe on their way to their spawning grounds,” says Godø.
“LoVe represents a new way of monitoring ecosystems, and forms part of the Institute of Marine Research’s plans for monitoring systems of the future. This will give us access to a new kind of data, which will hopefully make important contributions in areas such as oceanography, marine ecology and earth science, as well as increasing our understanding of fish stocks,” says Managing Director Tore Nepstad.
The Minister of Fisheries Elisabeth Aspaker believes that “building an ocean observatory will put us in a better position to understand the complexities of the seas and oceans, and will help us to exploit the opportunities available off our long coastline”.
The other participants in LoVe are the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, Uni Research, the University of Bergen, Statoil, the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association, the University of Tromsø, Sintef IKT, Christian Michelsen Research AS, NCE Subsea and Jacobs University Bremen.
Participating in two other projects
The Research Council of Norway has allocated a total of NOK 1.3 billion for laboratories and scientific equipment. This record funding for research infrastructure represents a significant investment in creating research-based jobs for the future.
The Institute of Marine Research is also participating in two of the other projects. One is the Norwegian Scientific Data Network (NSDN), led by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, which has received NOK 20 million. The other is the Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS)-Norway and Ocean Thematic Centre (OTC). This project, which is led by UNI Research, has been awarded NOK 90 million by the Research Council of Norway.
For LoVe and NSDN, the Norwegian Marine Data Centre (NMDC) at the Institute of Marine Research is playing a key role in managing the data together with the NorStore storage infrastructure.