Upcoming Experiment - May 9, 2012

On Wednesday, May 9, 2012, we will perform a major experiment and public demonstration of the Floating Sensor Network fleet. See here for more details.


Who We Are

The Floating Sensor Network project at UC Berkeley is building a water monitoring system that can be deployed in estuarine environments and rivers, and can be integrated into existing water-monitoring infrastructure.

Why Track Water?

Water managers need to track the movement of water, salinity, and other contaminants in complex networks of channels like deltas or estuaries. Whether in emergency situations such as a levee failure, flood, or contaminant spill, or for management efforts such as maintaining the freshwater channel in Northern California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, is important to understand “where the water is going.” Permanently placed sensors alone are important tools, but they cannot be placed everywhere on a large complex network of water or levees, and they don’t track water as it moves.

The Floating Sensor Network Project

The Floating Sensor Network team will build 100 motorized drifters, which are communication-enabled and integrate numerous sensors, including GPS, temperature, and salinity. The fleet will be deployable rapidly, in response to unanticipated events such as floods, levee breaches, and contaminant spills. The team is also working on hydrodynamic models (one and two dimensional shallow-water equations) and inverse modeling algorithms (Ensemble Kalman Filtering and its extensions) to integrate these measurements in the models.

Jointly with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories and the California Department of Water Resources, the team is developing a computational infrastructure which will run online (Web-based), and integrate in real-time the measurements from static sensors (for example, USGS permanently deployed sensing stations), mobile measurements, and any other data feed available to us, to estimate river flow and contaminant propagation in real-time, using online measurements. The results will be available to users in the form of “water maps”, that show the motion of water in real-time, and corresponding transported quantities (such as salt).

See our flyer

Featured Video

Andrew Tinka speaking about the Floating Sensor Network.

News Stories

News Updates

  • October 23, 2010
    Drifter project presented at a special forum of the UN General Assembly, organized by the New York Academy of Sciences and US Aid. Alex Bayen & Jon Beard of UC Berkeley demonstrate their floating...
  • October 09, 2010
    "A group of motorized drifters that measure and transmit physical and chemical conditions within a flow of water to create a situation awareness map across space and time." See the video and full...

Tech Updates

  • April 23, 2012
  • August 21, 2010
    Our mid-August experiment in the San Joaquin delta included a calm cruise for 8 drifters testing centerline control along side one drifter testing the durability of drifter hardware. During its...