Desert, Volcanoes, and AWACs

Longtime NORTEK partner in Chile, Mariscope, works to build a coastal real-time data network in South America. Originally conceived locally as a tool for the fish farming industry, the increasingly available wave and current data have become an indispensable tool for local port authorities, design engineers, the Navy, and the research community.
Desert, Volcanoes, and AWACs

NORTEK's partners at Mariscope, Chile.

Chile, 4,000 km offshore. To the North is the driest desert on Earth, the Atacama Desert. To the South lies one of the rainiest regions in the world, Puerto Aysén, and beyond this, a lot of water, islands and further South, Fireland - "the World’s End." Though, some of us think of it as the world’s beginning; it depends on your perspective. The wind never stops and the volcanoes in the backdrop occasionally come alive and show their might!

Enter the NORTEK AWAC. The Chilean Patagonia has seen a dramatic increase in the Fish Farming industry, which started in the mid-eighties and is now producing approximately 1 million tons of salmon. In 2001, NORTEK’s representative in Chile, Mariscope, began field work in this area, introducing the use of Doppler current profilers, particularly the NORTEK brand, to this industry locally. Mariscope originated in Germany in 1994 manufacturing ROVs and this activity still continues.

Hundreds of oceanographic instruments have since been utilized, mainly current profilers, in order to allow engineers to determine the growing harvesting sites according to the strong currents present in these areas. Wave action was initially disregarded, though it is the main force on an aquaculture structure. Subsequent stress failures in these structures demonstrated that waves should be accurately measured. This led to the introduction of the AWAC to the industry.

Mariscope, in partnership with NORTEK, continued to educate local industry in wave and current measurement technology, gaining interest from other users such as port authorities. Climate change, Panama Canal expansion, and the construction of new Post Panamax vessels generated a need for modification of ports all over South America. Mariscope introduced the AWAC as an operational measurement solution with online display to a few ports in Chile. Users were very impressed and port authorities as well as the Navy began utilizing the data to allow or restrict ship movements in and out of ports. Additionally, engineering companies used the data to modify docks, harbor shapes, and maneuvering studies among other purposes.

Additional local ports began to take notice of the advantages of real-time monitoring systems to reduce down time for vessel transit in adverse conditions, decisions formerly determined by visual inspection from the local Naval Authority. AWAC based real-time systems are now installed from Arica at the Peruvian border to Punta Arenas, generating data along the entire Pacific coast. During the last tsunami event (2014), these instruments were able to collect data along the coast. A report on this data is expected in the near future. Northern ports in Chile have noticed an increase in wave heights after severe storms in the Pacific in recent years and expect these measurements to be increasingly valuable for local decision making and planning.

Mariscope plans to develop a unified Pacific network online for viewing data collected with all systems and allow users to easily share information and results with each other. Stations have now also extended into Perú, making the vision of a true coastal Pacific real-time network in South America a reality.

Mariscope Chile AWAC diver

Mariscope diver servicing real-time AWAC system.


Mariscope Chile AWAC deployed

AWAC deployed off the Chilean coast.