B3 at Champlain Canal Lock #5 in
B2 tested on the Racquette River
REON Project Manager Shahidul Islam,
Ph.D. aboard B1 at Denning's Point
L to R: John Cronin, Director and CEO
Beacon Institute with Jim Bonner,
Chief Research and Education Officer
Tremendous human impact occurs in the regions where rivers and estuaries meet the ‘coastal margin’ – coastal wetlands, bays and shoreline. In the United States, this region is home to 70% of the population and 20 of its 25 largest cities. It is also where most industry and ports are found.
In 2007, Beacon Institute and IBM announced the creation of the River and Estuary Observatory Network (REON), the first technology-based monitoring and forecasting network for rivers and estuaries.
Now operational, this joint effort between Beacon Institute, IBM and Clarkson University is providing minute-to-minute monitoring of physical, chemical and biological data from New York's Hudson and St. Lawrence Rivers via an integrated network of sensors, robotics and computational technology distributed throughout both rivers.
Beacon Institute deployed B1, an advanced monitoring platform, in the Hudson in 2008. Redesigned in 2009 and 2010 for greater efficiency, B1 is moored in the Hudson River approximately 1,000 feet off of Denning's Point in Beacon with a four point tension mooring system that includes four 300 lb mushroom anchors. The shackles and chains of mooring adjust tension on the platform based on water and wind conditions, much like the way shock absorbers smooth the ride of an automobile.
Photovoltaic panels provide solar power to batteries on the deck, which power everything on the sensor platform including the wireless communications. The computer-controlled autonomous robotic profiler enables an array of multiple sensors to move up and down in the water for measurements.
An on-board computer receives information from the instruments and serves as a data logger, and relays commands to profilers. Remote programming allows for autonomous and cyber control of the sensor array.
In scientific collaboration with General Electric, Beacon Institute deployed the B2 and B3 advanced monitoring platforms on the upper Hudson at Fort Edward and Schuylerville in 2010.
The "acrobat," an undulating tow body designed to be towed behind the Institute's research vessel, and equipped with a sensor array similar to B1, B2 and B3, has provided a longitudinal view of the river via several mobile monitoring cruises from the upper to lower Hudson.
Additional sensors have been deployed at West Point, Poughkeepsie, Albany and Troy.;