The W1M3A multidisciplinary observatory

The offshore marine observing system

The W1M3A observing system is one of the most important infrastructures of the National Research Council of Italy and it is part of the network of deep ocean European observatories, and the two ERIC EMSO and ICOS.

The open sea laboratory is moored in the middle of the Ligurian Sea, inside the area known as the "Cetaceans Sanctuary" on the route between Genoa and Cape Corse, about 80 Km off the coast of Liguria where the water depth is about 1200 m!

The W1M3A observing system is composed of two sub-systems, a large spar buoy (known as "ODAS Italia 1", 51 meter long and 12 tons weight) and a sub-surface mooring acquiring data from the ocean interior under the buoy and communicating with the main buoy by means of an acoustic link.

The "ODAS Italia 1" (Oceanographic Data Acquisition System) buoy represents the only example in Europe and one of the few in the world of spar meteo-oceanographic buoy. The current research project was based on previous significant experiences made in the past 40 years by CNR in the field of equipped buoys to meet the needs of the scientific community. This platform is one of the oldest marine observing system developed by CNR since it was designed in 1969.

This observatory helps to monitor the conditions and the sea state of the Ligurian basin by continuously acquiring meteorological, physical, bio-geochemical and wave measurements.

The collected data are transmitted in near real time to the station ashore to be used by national and international agencies and institutions.

The buoy can be also imagined as a "miniature island" able to offer a substrate for the development of a rich biological community. Many organisms settle and develop on the buoy, colonising its entire underwater surface.