Student Field Work on Ocean Heat Extraction

Friday 16. September 2016 | By: Ingi Björn Guðnason

Recently Majid Eskafi defended his master’s thesis in Coastal and Marine Management by the title Feasibility of Ocean Heat Extraction in Icelandic Coastal Waters; Case Study of Önundarfjörður. His research was based on measurements and data collection in Önundarfjörður made during a 12 months period from April 1 2015 to April 1 2016. Majid made this short video showing the data collection instruments moored at the different locations in the fjord as well as data gathering and maintenance during the one year period.

The instruments and their location

For the data collecting different instruments were used at different locations. “In this research, the in-situ seawater temperature is measured by two different types of instruments moored accurately via GPS in Önundarfjörður”, Majid Eskafi tells us. Both instruments are manufactured and developed by Icelandic companies, Starmon mini manufactured by Star Oddi ltd in Iceland and SM4 developed by the local Ísafjörður company Pols Engineering.  

Four different locations were selected for the data collection. “In general, in order to reduce the cost of utilization of a sweater source heat system it is important that such research is done close to a district heating system or a town. So, having the insight of seawater temperature around the village of Flateyri was important. That's why three instruments were located off the east, west and south (around the tip of the peninsula) of the town.”

Harsh Weather Conditions

Weather conditions in a fjord in the Westfjords can be challenging especially during the winter time. Majid’s research and data collection was slightly affected by this. “Another location was along the southern shoreline of Önundarfjörður around Valþjófsdalur”, Majid tells us, “but we lost that instrument during the winter, probably because of harsh weather and sea conditions.” Luckily Gísli Jón Kristjánsson who has aquaculture pens in the fjord gave access to the recorded data by his instrument which was attached to a pen in the fjord so the research still had four data collection sites.

Cooperation between student and local businesses and institutions

Majid’s masters research was done in cooperation with Orkubú Vestfjarða the local energy company. The Marine Research Institute of Iceland Ísafjörður brance was responsible for the field work and the data collection for OV. “There was a very smooth and close cooperation between the Marine Research Institution, the boat owner (Gísli), POLS engineering (for SM4) and Orkubú Vestfjarða. It was quite organized and I like that very much.”

Majid is originally from Iran and has had field work experiences for measurements, data gathering, supervision and maintenance. “But I have not had any experience in cold and freezing water and harsh sea conditions. So it was a tough but interesting experience”, Majid says and adds, “generally all scientific work is interesting for me, both in hot and freezing conditions!” 

Majid‘s research work has been ongoing for almost 17 months and now that the work is done we are curious to know what his plans are for the future? „We know seawater temperature and current velocity play important role in fish farming and aquaculture activities. Via the model that I used in my research the locations of the higher seawater temperature and current velocity can be simulated in each fjord. I have had meetings with relevant companies regarding this. I may start a new project with one of them and I hope my work can help to increase the fish farming production in the region. However, as I have already mentioned in the local newspaper BB, I am seriously considering to continue my study as a PhD candidate and have scientific career.“

Whatever the future holds for Majid it is clear that his project has answered certain questions about ocean heat extraction in the Westfjords and might also be useful in other sectors such as the aquaculture.