For the first time in the history of Urabá an integral oceanographic expedition is carried out, it seeks to understand the behavior of the Gulf and its energetic-saline potential, through monitoring sustained over time.
Lina Marcela Gallo Benítez – CEMarin Communicator firstname.lastname@example.org
Translated by Angélica Santacruz – CEMarin Direction assistant email@example.com
Monitoring the Gulf of Urabá in order to understand its behaviour is not a new task; several researchers and institutions have carried it out to answer specific questions. But the scientific expedition ‘Tarena’ is different because it articulates physical, chemical and biological study parameters.
“We called it Tarena in honor of one of the mouths of the Atrato River”, explain the professor Lennin Flórez Leiva, and he adds that this campaign “constitutes our Challenger expedition, our step on the moon” because for the first time the seas are explored with the use of elementary instruments of oceanography, with more than 30 measurement stations located in an oceanographic mesh that covers the Gulf from north to south, from east to west, and even within the mouths of the Atrato River.
In this expedition teachers and students of the Marine Sciences program of the Universidad de Antioquia, based in Turbo, participate, as well as national and international universities. The project includes the development of ten undergraduate theses and one master’s thesis.
The articulation is necessary if we take into account that the Universidad de Antioquia in Urabá, one of the member universities of CEMarin, has the undergraduate programs of Coastal Zone Ecology, Oceanography and Oceanographic Engineering, the Master in Marine Sciences and the Interinstitutional Doctorate in Marine Sciences, and research groups that produce ever greater knowledge about the socio-environmental problems of the gulf, with regard to port megaprojects to be executed in the coastal marine ecosystem of Antioquia.
Tarena I: generate energy from variations in salinity
In Tarena I, the first field trip of the expedition, the student of Oceanography of the Universidad de Antioquia Yury Calderón Urrego embarked. His degree work entitled “Spatio-temporal variability of saline energy potential by means of in situ measurements in the Gulf of Urabá” aims to know if it is possible to generate energy from salinity variations in the Gulf waters, through the analysis of the interaction between fresh water from the Atrato River and the salty waters of the Caribbean Sea. In this search, salinity differences were found that would allow the generation of renewable energies.
“The fresh waters of the Gulf follow its superficial course and in the lower part salt water enters with very marked salinity differences, which makes possible the use of renewable energies from the saline gradient (differences in the saline concentration); this energy can benefit the coastal communities of the Gulf that are not interconnected to the national energy system”,explains the teacher Vladimir Toro Valencia, who advises Yury’s thesis with the support of Cecilia Ortiz Enrique, professor at the Universidad Autónoma de México – UNAM.
The team of 9 people who accompanied this first outing monitored 15 stations of the Gulf of Urabá with an instrument used to measure temperature, conductivity and depth in wet and dry times, called CTD Castaway, facilitated by Universidad del Norte.
Another investigation framed in the Tarena expedition is the one carried out by Noris Isabel Córdoba Mena, student of the Master in Marine Sciences. Her research aims to know the relationship between the increase of the phytoplankton community (microscopic plant organisms suspended in the water column) and the concentrations of nitrate, phosphate and silicate in places of the Gulf of Urabá influenced by the discharges of rivers such as the Atrato and the León. “The increase of nutrients is a natural phenomenon in the oceans, but climate change and the accumulation of organic waste in water bodies are affecting ecosystems. Algae have been found that can be harmful, and that is why it is important to know this, to know what management strategies can be generated”, says Noris.
Tarena II: the second field trip
arena is part of two research projects recently attached to the Environmental Academic Corporation, through the Oceans, Climate and Environment research group and the GIGA research group of the Faculty of Engineering, academic units of the Universidad de Antioquia. In the second semester of 2018 Tarena III and IV will be carried out.