Oceanic Observatory

The Canary Islands location in the Central North Atlantic region, is a privileged position for observing the ocean processes of global interest and in particular for Europe, the long-term observation and its connection to the associated socio-economic processes. The processes in nature occur at different spatio-temporal scales. Oceans represent 70% of the planet’s surface, so its influence on the global scale is critical, however, the level of knowledge and the observation capacity of the seas and oceans, although it has improved and increased substantially in the recent years, it continues to be insufficient. Therefore, the need to improve and extend the ocean’s observation capacity and its contribution to global processes persists.

(See Observatory Data Policy)

Permanent multidisciplinary array of autonomous ocean observation platforms for observing the marine environment. The observation systems and facilities provide support to the environmental monitoring and characterisation needs of the test site.

Coastal node:
  • HF Radar: monitors ocean surface currents.

  • Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP): monitors currents and waves.
  • Hydrophones: measures underwater noise.

Data visualisation portals: http://obsplatforms.plocan.eu

 Deep Node:
  • Includes the ESTOC (the European Station for Times-series in the Ocean, Canary Islands), located 60 nautical miles north of Gran Canaria with a depth of 3,670 metres. This station generates long-term meteorological and oceanographic time-series in the Central Eastern Atlantic. 

Data visualisation portals: http://obsplatforms.plocan.eu

Data download portals: http://data.plocan.eu/thredds/catalog/estoc/catalog.html

Both nodes are equipped with meteo-oceanographic data measuring instruments

Surface buoy sensors

- Atmospheric sensors (temperature, humidity, ultrasonic and mechanical anemometers, pressure, PAR and GPS).
- Marine sensors (temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll, turbidity, pH and CO2).

Mooring sensors at various depths

- CTD with dissolved oxygen
- Fluorometer
- ADCP
- Nitrate sensor
- Current metre
- Hydrophone
- Sediment trap

Communication infrastructure for data transmission

- Argos 3
- Iridium

Drifters (free-floating buoys)

Data visualisation portals

The PLOCAN observatory is a node of EMSO (European network of ocean-observation infrastructures) and concentrates a great observation capacity:

  • The management of the ocean-vehicles base (VIMAS)
  • The monitoring and continuous instrumentation of the test site (COASTAL Observatory)
  • The continuous deep-ocean observation for more than 20 years at the ESTOC station (OCEANIC Observatory)
  • The Macaronesian Marine-Maritime Network (R3M), with oceanographic stations and buoy systems (ODAS and SEAMON) for real-time measurements.
  • The Data Center.

They allow to focus, update and enhance the quality, quantity, projection and utility of an integrated observation infrastructure.

EMSO Website
The Observatory contributes to the Essential Ocean Variables (EOV) monitoring and to the modeling of related phenomena, such as ecosystem processes. The use of state-of-the-art technologies facilitates observations at increasing depths and geographic scales. PLOCAN offers access to its observation facilities for the benefit of research, development and innovation in the marine-maritime sector, as well as a wide range of services portfolio and opportunities, from testing and demonstration of new technologies, specialized training or consulting and integrated management services. The Test Site, the Multipurpose Offshore Platform and the PLOCAN land facilities provides support for testing of deep observation systems, benchmarking, calibration and instruments validation.
Observatory