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Half a cubic hectometer mooring array of 3000 temperature sensors in the deep sea
van Haren, H.; Bakker, R.; Witte, Y.; Laan, M; van Heerwaarden, J. (2021). Half a cubic hectometer mooring array of 3000 temperature sensors in the deep sea. J. Atmos. Oceanic. Technol. 38(9): 1585-1597.
In: Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology. American Meteorological Society: Boston, MA. ISSN 0739-0572; e-ISSN 1520-0426, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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  • van Haren, H., meer
  • Bakker, R., meer
  • Witte, Y.
  • Laan, M, meer
  • van Heerwaarden, J., meer


    The redistribution of matter in the deep-sea depends on water-flow currents and turbulent exchange, for which breaking internal waves are an important source. As internal waves and turbulence are essentially three-dimensional ‘3D’, their dynamical development should ideally be studied in a volume of seawater. However, this is seldom done in the ocean where 1D-observations along a single vertical line are already difficult. We present the design, construction and successful deployment of a half-cubic-hectometer (480,000 m3) 3D-T mooring array holding 2925 high-resolution temperature sensors to study weakly density-stratified waters of the 2500-m deep Western Mediterranean. The stand-alone array samples temperature at a rate of 0.5 Hz, with precision <0.5 mK, noise level <0.1 mK and expected endurance of 3 years. The independent sensors are synchronized inductively every 4 h to a single standard clock. The array consists of 45 vertical lines 125 m long, at 9.5 m horizontally from their nearest neighbor. Each line is held under tension of 1.3 kN by a buoyancy element that is released chemically one week after deployment. All fold-up lines are attached to a grid of cables that is tensioned in a 70 m diameter ring of steel tubes. The array is build-up in harbor-waters, with air filling the steel tubes for floatation. The flat-form array is towed to the mooring site under favorable sea-state conditions. By opening valves in the steel tubes, the array is sunk and its free-fall is controlled by a custom-made drag-parachute reducing the average sinking speed to 1.3 m s-1 and providing smooth horizontal landing on the flat seafloor.

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