Acqua Alta Oceanographic Tower

(short name)

CNR ISMAR Observing System

(short name)

Acqua Alta Oceanographic Tower


Mediterranean Sea, Northern Adriatic, Gulf of Venice


45.31435°N - 12.508317°E

Bottom depth

16 m

Legal name of organisation

National Research Council of Italy (CNR)




Mauro Bastianini

Castello 2737/f Tesa 104, 30122 Venezia, Italy
Phone: +39 0412407982 – Fax: +39 0412407940

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The “Acqua Alta” research tower consists of a platform containing an instrument house, supported by a steel pipe structure, similar to that of an oil well derrick. The pipe structure is hammered 22 m into the bottom through each of its four hollow legs. Energy is supplied at 125, 220, 380 VAC (50 Hz – remote activation), along with continuous voltage 12 and 24 VDC.

The tower can host two technicians and three scientists for several days and allows specific dedicated campaigns and long-term measurements.

A broadband wireless communication system between the tower and the operating Institute allows 10 Mb/s data communication rate and real time data availability. The bridge allows the tower to be part of the Institute LAN so all the scientists on board can access internet and potentially the instruments could be controlled remotely.

Measurements routinely acquired with periodic sampling concern biology, chemistry, physical oceanography. Autonomous instrumentations cover atmospheric and hydrological parameters with a series of meteorological stations and oceanographic instruments. A direct view of the sea condition around the tower is available continuously by the three high resolution webcams installed on the roof. Two underwater webcams are installed at -3 and -12 m to observe biological populations and to monitor potentially critical phenomena such as jellyfish swarms and mucilaginous macro aggregates.

Given the high level of security and wide desk space, sophisticated instruments can be hosted on board reducing drastically the risk of loss (when not in service the tower is locked and a video surveillance is active). The good level of logistic support allows the setup of in situ experiments.

Web site address:

Instrument Measured Parameter(s) Elevation / Depth Sampling Frequency of data recovery
Meteo stationDavis VantagePro2 Wind speed and direction, Air temperature, Humidity + 17 m 30 min 30 min
Nortek Awac Current Profiles -1 to -15 m 30 min 30 min
Nortek Awac Waves (high, direction, period) sea surface 30 min 30 min
SeaCAT Temperature, Oxygen, Turbidity Conductivity/Salinity - 3, -7, -13 m 60 min 60 min

  • Remote: the measuring system is implemented by the operator of the installation and the presence of the user group is not required,
  • Partially remote: the presence of the user group is required at some stage e.g. installing and un-installing user’s equipment.

Unit of access (UA): 2-months.

A user or a user group shall be given access to the infrastructure for specific experiments, tests of sensors and in-situ validation, or to collect additional data to the ones already acquired by the operator.

TNA projects supported by JERICO-NEXT:

The “Acqua Alta” tower is a wet and dry laboratory able to host three scientists supported by one technician and two seamen. The high degree of safety (Video surveillance onboard) allows the setup and deployment of high-cost instruments; furthermore with the availability of wideband connection, instruments can be remotely controlled.

A support team formed by one technician and two sea-men, coordinated by a head scientist will assist the user group, helping during installing/uninstalling operations. The user will have access to the infrastructure by boat, this service will be arranged by CNR ISMAR, as well as lodging and meals onboard.

The data will be immediately available to the user accessing the laboratory or also remotely in case of protracted installation of user’s instrumentation.

Researchers must provide an insurance statement.

No smoking is allowed on board, safety equipment is not provided.