Making and Measuring Waves with MERIKA

Europe and Scotland invest in marine renewable energy by establishing a world-class current and wave research capability with MERIKA at the University of Highlands and Islands.
Making and Measuring Waves with MERIKA

Signature500 wave data showing reflected wave energy off Tiumpan Head.

Researchers at the University of Highlands and Islands (UHI) campus in Stornoway, UK, have been making waves of technical and expertise advancement through the Marine Energy Research Innovation and Knowledge Accelerator (MERIKA) project, funded in 2014.

Managed by senior research engineer Arne Vogler, and his outstanding team at Lews Castle College UHI, MERIKA will provide investment in the equipment, personnel and infrastructure hosted at several UHI sites across Scotland and will develop a research exchange programme with seven European institutions to help the university remain at the cutting edge of marine renewable research.  Already, members of the MERIKA team have collaborated with leading marine energy researchers at the Technical University of Hamburg Harburg and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.

With the goal of being a world-class marine energy research centre, the MERIKA team approached Nortek to learn about innovations in wave, current and turbulence measurements – both acoustic subsea and terrestrial radar-based measurements.   Listening closely to the measurement requirements and analysis goals, Nortek was able to offer a full suite of instruments that would allow the researchers to achieve their challenging goals.  The Nortek instruments sold to the MERIKA program include:

  • Nortek AWAC 1 MHz (currents and waves)
  • Nortek AWAC 600 kHz (currents and waves)
  • Nortek Signature500 (currents, waves and turbulence)
  • Nortek Signature1000 (currents, waves and turbulence)
  • Nortek Aquadopp Profiler 400 kHz (currents)
  • Nortek SeaDarQ x-band wave radar (two complete sets)

The Nortek equipment was shipped to MERIKA during the summer of 2015.  Nortek staff travelled to Stornoway and Thurso to commission the SeaDarQ wave radar systems and train staff on their operation.  Following training, the MERIKA team deployed the SeaDarQ wave radar system at Tiumpan Head and the Sound of Taransay.  Coordinated with the radar, a Nortek Signature500 was deployed in 35 m (Tiumpan Head) and a Datawell Waverider buoy was deployed in 30 m (Sound of Taransay).  The goal of this research was to begin to validate and calibrate the wave radar system with the Signature AD2CP and Waverider buoy.  Ultimately, improved wave measurements from the radar systems may be used for better spatial coverage of waves at future research and prospective marine energy sites.

UHI Sig500 Deployment

The Nortek Signature500 AD2CP prepared for deployment to measure currents and waves.

UHI SignatureViewer Currents

Current profile data from Signature500 AD2CP deployed in 35 m water depth.

UHI SignatureViewer Waves

Directional wave data from Signature500 AD2CP deployed in 35 m water depth.

UHI Wave Reflection

Full directional spectrum from Signature500 showing incident wave energy from 50 deg and reflected wave energy from 250 deg.

UHI Radar Rainbow

Brilliant double rainbows shine over the Nortek SeaDarQ wave radar system during commissioning.

UHI Radar Screen

High resolution wave field as measured by Nortek SeaDarQ wave radar system.

UHI Comparison Spectra









Non-directional energy spectra comparison between SeaDarQ wave radar and Waverider buoy.