The Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring of Russia (Roshydromet) has embarked on a widespread program of modernization of its environmental instrumentation and infrastructure. Partly funded by the World Bank, the project will result in an enormous improvement in Roshydromet’s ability to monitor surface water hydrology and hydrography. As part of the project, an initial fleet of 15 Oceanscience Z-Boat 1800 remotely-operated hydrographic survey boats has been delivered to Russia through Oceanscience’s exclusive project partner, INFAX Inc. The Z-Boat specified for Roshydromet is among the highest performance options available, with on-board instruments including the latest Teledyne RD Instruments’ River Ray acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) for river water velocity and discharge measurement, a single beam 200kHz echosounder, and GNSS antenna. All data are available on the shore control station in real time courtesy of a multichannel radio link. The Eye4Software Hydromagic acquisition package was selected to provide real time navigation and bathymetric mapping capabilities, largely as a result of its high ease-of-use, recognizing the field technicians would have limited or no previous experience in bathymetry data collection.
The Z-Boat fleet has been dispatched to all corners of the country, from St Petersburg to Siberia to Vladivostok. Each boat and instrument package is part of a new "mobile station" approach where survey teams have identical vehicles and monitoring equipment. With the remotely-operated boat in their vehicle, technicians can perform measurements in more locations with fewer restrictions, but not sacrifice their data quality. Roshydromet acceptance testing on the Razdolnaya River in the Far East generated enthusiasm, with 300m simultaneous geo-referenced ADCP velocity and 200 kHz bathymetry sections across the river conducted in some pretty unpleasant conditions. "The Roshydromet operators have gone from having the most basic range of monitoring tools to some of the most advanced in one step!", according to Naum Valler of INFAX who introduced the remotely-operated boat to Russia; "Other countries with well-developed hydrological monitoring networks often see the remote boat as an ancillary tool, whereas with Roshydromet the approach was different. We viewed the Z-Boat option as the most convenient and flexible approach for small to medium sized river surveying from the start so it was placed as a core component of our offering to Roshydromet. The most obvious benefits include getting people away from potentially dangerous survey situations and being able to choose a survey site based on data quality and not access requirements such as a boat ramp or bridge".
Information about the Roshydromet Phase II project, that includes a $60M World Bank loan approved in September 2013 may be found here: http://www.meteo.imd.ru/eng/modernization