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Forging new relationships: a busy month for Marlan


Marlan have been busy working on a wide variety of projects this month, including new collaborations and preparation for upcoming conferences and tradeshows. Take a look below to see more on what the team have been up to.


Marlan awarded contract for wave climate characterisation at L2 terminal


Marlan have been awarded a long-term contract to carry out wave climate characterisation and continuous monitoring at Peel Port’s Liverpool L2 terminal. The new terminal was designed to handle post-panamax ships (vessels such as large container ships and super tankers which cannot fit into the original panama canal locks). Marlan were asked to assist with environmental monitoring to improve the efficiency of ship berthing operations and risk-management operations, in relation to high-energy weather events.

The observation area stretches from the Irish Sea, the Burbo Bank sandflats, across Queen’s Channel and up to the edge of the terminal quayside itself. Marlan proposed to do this using a combination of Synoptic radar-based remote sensing, machine vision cameras, downward-looking wave radars and small buoys around the navigation channels.

This long-term project aims to collect data in order to feed models being used to create a traffic light system which will supply port operators with greater information for safe operating conditions at the terminal. The system will also monitor the dynamic sandbanks in the estuary and the changing surface currents, to deliver operational efficiencies in maintenance dredging and survey operations close to the port.


Peel Port’s L2 terminal, Liverpool


Marlan, Mott MacDonald and Sefton Council collaboration for radar-based ornithology assessment  

Marlan have been awarded an exciting contract to deploy their Synoptic radar system in a rather different capacity than usual. Working alongside a team of ornithologists and ecologists at Mott MacDonald, Marlan will demonstrate the ability to monitor the winter bird activity at Crosby beach, an area which hosts numerous birds during the winter months including Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, Sandwich Tern and Oystercatcher.

The aim of the collaboration is to characterise the distribution of overwintering birds to increase the efficiency of construction operations. This will allow for construction companies to operate more effectively around bird patterns of feeding, as well as the tides and the weather.


Radar image showing footprint of flocks of birds over a 10 minute period


Marlan collaboration with the NOC producing great wave overtopping data 

The National Oceanography Centre (NOC) are leading a project to instrument the crests of vulnerable seawalls to measure overtopping rates. This winter season saw the deployment of the prototype rig to Crosby seawall, where the team were able to capture some great wave events at high tide and measure the volume of water coming over the top. This knowledge is crucial for the design of more efficient seawalls and in the prediction of overtopping events, which pose a danger to the public.


WireWall in action, Crosby Beach


Previous work in this area used cattle troughs to catch some of the overtopping water and measure discharge directly. However, this could be dangerous in storm conditions and was not accurate due to spillage over the container. The WireWall system has been developed by an all-star consortium of the NOC, HR Wallingford, Balfour Beatty, the Environment Agency, the Channel Coastal Observatory, Sefton Council and Marlan. The system uses unique capacitive wires adapted from their common use in vertical spar-buoys deployed in the open ocean. They sense contact with water and a sparse 3-D array of these wires can infer volumes of water passing through.

See this conference paper for more details on the technical aspects of the system. The NOC’s Dr Jenny Brown has also created a handy video which explains the system here.

You can also follow the team on twitter for updates.

Marlan to present at Ocean Business 2019

Preparations are well underway for this year’s prestigious Ocean Business exhibition between 9-11th April in Southampton. Marlan’s Director of Research Dr Cai Bird has been invited to present the findings from the recent successful collaboration between Marlan, the NOC, the University of Liverpool and Innovate UK (see last month’s news story on the project here).

Be sure to visit the Marlan stand and say hi to the team.

Synoptic deployment findings at Rossall seawall to be presented at Coastal Management 2019

Marlan’s abstract paper on their recent Synoptic deployment at Rossall seawall has been accepted for presentation at the ICE Coastal Management 2019 conference, taking place between 24-26th September at La Rochelle, France. The findings, which will be presented in full at the event include some very exciting sediment migration patterns on the Fylde Peninsula. Be sure to let us know if you have sedimentation or erosion issues on your patch and we’ll see how Synoptic can help.


Marlan’s Dr Cai Bird interviewed on ‘The Scene From Above Podcast’

At the MCCE 2018 in Birmingham, Marlan were approached by Spatial and Environmental Consultant Alastair Graham (Geoger), host of ‘The Scene from Above Podcast’. Having attended Cai’s presentation on Synoptic, Alastair was eager to learn more.

He subsequently invited Cai to talk on the podcast, in which they discussed the current status quo in coastal management and how Marlan are seeking to shift this paradigm through their innovative remote-sensing techniques. They also discussed the potential uses of fusing satellite and radar data in order to create highly detailed elevation models of the coast with high temporal update rates.

‘The Scene From Above Podcast’ is a wonderful source of information for anyone interested in learning more about topics such as earth observation and remote sensing.

Check out the episode here and consider subscribing to the podcast.



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