A new observational platform for collecting meteorological, water level, and water quality data was recently installed in the Albemarle Pamlico Estuarine System (APES) just off the Coastal Studies Institute (CSI) campus. This new data collection station is the outcome of a public-private partnership between East Carolina University (ECU), Coastal Studies Institute and WeatherFlow, a private sector meteorological forecasting, modeling, and observation group. The station currently provides a complete suite of real-time meteorological and water data, as well as an easily accessible platform for additional instrumentation to be installed. The platform significantly improves researchers’ access to comprehensive data about the APES by providing readily available data that is applicable to a wide range of research topics in and around the region.
While other observational stations do exist within the APES, the platform at CSI will be the most readily accessible and therefore allow for monitoring opportunities and data use that do not exist at remote stations. The addition of water level monitoring to WeatherFlow’s full meteorological station, measuring air temperature, air pressure, wind speed and wind direction, will serve to fill spatial gaps in the APES system. These data, though not thoroughly monitored across the entire estuary, is of high value in a strongly wind-driven system like APES and is immediately applicable to research projects like the shoreline stabilization research on-going at CSI.
Researchers will also soon be installing a WetLabs water quality monitoring system to supplement APES data coverage on temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll fluorescence, and turbidity. This new stream of data will combine with existing monitoring systems and meteorological stations—at CSI and otherwise—to generate a more holistic understanding of estuarine dynamics through time.
The research generated on ECU’s estuarine monitoring platform at CSI will be of value to researchers throughout and beyond the region and made accessible in both live-feed and static forms, as applicable. In addition, CSI hopes the platform will lead to new innovative research collaborations and opportunities by providing access for installation of additional research-focused instrumentation by public, private, and academic entities to improve the APES data network and our understanding of estuarine processes.