Cabled Observatories for Monitoring of the Ocean System (COSMOS)

Proposal on research infrastructure submitted to the Research Council of Norway.

The project is led by Peter M. Haugan, University of Bergen, with project coordination assigned to Uni Research AS. CMR is responsible for technical development of underwater cable systems and nodes, with contributions from SINTEF. Other partners are the University of Tromsø, Institute of Marine Research, University of Oslo, SINTEF, FFI and Statoil.

The vision of the project is to establish a next-generation infrastructure for a permanent and interactive presence in the ocean, enabling sustainable monitoring and management of the marine environment. This includes understanding ecosystems, marine resources, bio-geological processes, and challenges from global climate and environmental change. The observatory will contribute to operational forecasting of natural environmental disasters, climate change and its effects.

The infrastructure will be built on the basis of Norwegian subsea technological expertise developed for the petroleum industry. A Fjord Observatory was initiated in Masfjorden under the pilot project, another one will come into place in the Hardangerfjord in 2011. These will be expanded under the main project and used for teaching, training and testing in addition to data collection for research purposes. In Vesterålen and Svalbard, there will be a gradual development of cable and instrumented nodes on the sea bottom. Each node will have instruments covering a range of disciplines and parameters including currents and temperature, acoustic monitoring of biomass in the water column, geochemical characterization of oceanic processes, etc. Electric power and bandwidth in the cables will be sufficient for real-time transmission of HD video. The instruments will be controlled interactively via the Internet.

The Mid-Atlantic Ridge observatory will be non-cable initially. Future expansions of the Svalbard Observatory at greater depths and to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge will be planned as part of European infrastructure through ESFRI EMSO project and possibly through a European ERIC. The cable and the first node on the shelf west of Svalbard will link and contribute to both SIOS and EMSO. The establishment of COSMOS is also coordinated with MARS and NEPTUNE in the U.S. and Canada and will build on their experience, but will use cheaper and better technical solutions.

COSMOS has 9 partners, but the infrastructure will be available to all interested researchers and other users.

Abbreviations and links:

NOON – Norwegian Ocean Observatory Network (www.
ESFRI - European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (
EMSO – European mulitdisciplinary seafloor observatory (

ERIC - The Community legal framework for a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (

SIOS - Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing System (
MARS – Monterey Accelerated Research System (

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