SensOcean is a program of participatory science which aims at equipping the sailboats of the voluntary boaters with physical measurement sensors. By this way, anyone navigating on the open sea will be able to perform temperature and salinity measurements on the surface. These measurements will allow to better understand the evolution of the ocean, marine currents, and their impact on the climate change.

Context and challenges

Nowadays, most of the measurements are realised by oceanographic ships and stationary measurements platforms (buoys, tripods, moorings) usually expensive, limited in number and with some difficulties to measure the physical parameters on the surface. Since few years, some commercial vessels are equipped with thermo-salinometer to input into the data base of the scientists. The sailboats can be considered as a promising tool as they can provide shallower measurements, in different areas of those explored by the commercial or research ships, and represent a large fleet. Then, the integration of permanent measuring device of temperature and salinity in real time on sailboats could ensure the improvement of the spatial and temporal resolution of the current measurements.


Scientifics :

  • Improve our knowledge of the ocean currents based on temperature and salinity measurements of the sea surface.
  • Improve the spatial and temporal resolution of the current measurements.
  • Create a dynamic mapping and a large scale data gathering

Educationnal :

  • Increase the public awareness on the impact of ocean currents on the climate.
  • Increase the citizen’s ability to get involved in the process of knowledge acquisition within the environment.

Measuring Kit

In order to collect the data, a measuring equipment is provided to the volunteers. It includes :

  • A box including a temperature sensor, a salinity sensor, a GPS and a connection box.
  • Documentation about the use of the kit.
  • A measurement protocol
  • Resources to explain the scientists issues

How it works ?

After a training program on the sensors calibration, the measurement protocol and on the maintenance of the kit (during training week-ends or with online documentation), volunteers will be able to fix the kit on their sailboat. Then, the kit will collect sea surface temperature and salinity data continously along the boat trajectory. Next, these data will be registered, sorted on a platform (like the site of the association for exemple) to check the quality of data, and sent directly on the Coriolis data base. Then, data are available with free access for everybody (scientists and citizens). A platform supporting the program will allow for all participants to retrieve their trajectories and the shared measurements, and to have access to analyse tools for the data base.

The measurement kit, designed to be available and reproduced by everybody, is under the licence OpenSource and jointly developed with the partners of the project (Astrolabe Expéditions, LOCEAN, La Paillasse, Explore Jourdain, l’’Electrolab, la Maison du libre, l’Ifremer). Thus, the kit can be distributed through the network of the partners, or bought on the site. Also, as the construction plans of the measurement device is avalible online, it can be replicated in Fablab or by other organisms which have the technical equipment.

Program status
kit available

Scientific partners
The organization has developed this program with the physical oceanography laboratory LOCEAN, LOPS and IRD at Ifremer.