Environmental research is a vital practice for ensuring our lakes, streams and oceans remain clean and healthy. Collecting water samples in the field is often one of the best ways to monitor water quality. Researchers commonly test for the presence of harmful bacteria, algae blooms, dissolved metals, and agricultural and well as industrial pollutants. Man-made substances such pharmaceuticals and micro plastics also appear in water samples, and the first step in understanding their environmental impact is understanding where they are coming from.
Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) as well as autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) provide the means to efficiently and accurately capture a series of water samples, along a pre-determined route, at specific GPS coordinates, and even at specific depths. The concentrations of target substances can then be mapped, analyzed over time, and traced back to their source. As with any scientific study, the conclusion is only as good as the data, and ROVs equipped with water samplers give the accuracy and repeatability that are necessary.
How a Water Sampler Works:
Water samplers are simple. They consist of one or more tubular chambers which are open on both ends to allow water to flow freely through it. When the operator triggers the mechanism, the tube is sealed on both ends by a rubber stopper which snaps into place, forming a water-tight chamber. Good water samplers contain multiple chambers, which can be cycled into position and activated, like the chambers of a revolver. By triggering multiple samples at known coordinates or known depths, the water quality data is easier to plot and analyze. ROV’s take the guess work out of this process by providing the depth, heading, and GPS location of each sample as it’s triggered. Through a suite of other on-board sensors, ROVs can simultaneously collect information about water temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and many other parameters which give a well-rounded set of data points to connect to each water sample.