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Mission Mjøsa

“Mission Mjøsa”: How SeaBee supports protection and environmental monitoring of Norway’s biggest lake

SeaBee Work Package Lead Kristoffer Kalbekken participated in the Ocean Week Gjøvik panel debate on how actors will contribute to improving the environmental condition in and around Mjøsa, marking the commitment to and an official launch of “Mission Mjøsa”, an ambitious program aiming to drastically increase our knowledge of Norway’s largest lake, Lake Mjøsa, as well as engaging and mobilizing the wider community (and society) in this.

“It’s important to create an arena where all partners can contribute to further development, and SeaBee is a key part of that,” said Kalbekken. He represented both NIVA, a key player in the Mjøsa region since the 1970s, and Norwegian drone infrastructure project SeaBee at the event.

Mjøsa came under public scrutiny in the past, where images emerged of the lake, turned brown by phosphates and sewage. A campaign led by the public to encourage people to stop using phosphate detergents eventually engaged politicians as well, leading to billions of public funding set aside for improving the environmental condition of the lake and NIVA playing a key role.

Even though Mjøsa was “cleaned”, it still faces several challenges and poses an ideal mini testing ground for new technology used for assessing large and open bodies of water. Some of these challenges include those induced by climate change, the dumping of debris such as ammunition into the lake, and the fish in the lake still being too toxic to eat. Some problems that need to be resolved are a little more practical, like the pooling of water pipes in the area, so more information from observations and other data are needed to assess the bottom of the lake, eventually creating a digital twin of the lake itself.

SeaBee is relevant for both Mission Mjøsa and Ocean Week, as SeaBee covers the bottom part of the “observation pyramid”. As it is closer to the surface, SeaBee isn’t vulnerable to factors such as cloud cover like satellites are. There’s no need for atmospheric correction, and thanks to SeaBee’s “Otter” water surface drones, scientists are able to assess what’s happening both on the surface of the lake and deeper into the water. By collaborating with key partners and institutes, SeaBee hopes to strengthen knowledge of lake Mjøsa and further develop its infrastructure capabilities.