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Working with the next generation in marine science


The Marlan team were recently delighted to host an intern student, welcoming a new team member on a four-week project to deliver exciting results. Eilean MacDonald, a second year Oceanography student at the University of Southampton, is passionate about marine science, maths and physics and, in particular, new ways of gaining insight into the natural world. Showing great initiative, she approached Marlan at Ocean Business and asked if she could carry out a work placement with the team, focusing on methods to better understand the coastal environment.



Eilean used the data gathered from Marlan’s Synoptic 4D radar deployment at Crosby beach and used the wave inversion technique to develop new forms of data analysis. In this project, she applied her newly-acquired programming and data science skills along with her existing mathematical skills, specifically using vector calculus to quantify the magnitude and directions of surface currents in Liverpool bay.

Eilean is now assisting Marlan with the writing of a paper which will use data analysed during this project to reveal interesting coastal phenomena within the Liverpool bay area. During her time working with Marlan, Eilean has had the opportunity to learn the fundamental elements of software development and gain first-hand experience of data science within the coastal monitoring industry.


The Wave Inversion Technique


The wave inversion method works by analysing a sequence of radar images containing waves and looking at the frequency of those waves. Over time the algorithm can lock onto a wave signal that changes as it passes over different water depths according to the linear dispersion relationship. Eilean looked at how the data quality changed over the course of a tidal cycle in Liverpool Bay.

Notice how the signal cleans up as the tide rises and the waves are better able to propagate across the sand banks into the channel. Marlan have several months of data from this site and the team are excited to see how dredging and siltation affect channel depths over time.




Reflecting on her time working with Marlan, Eilean commented, “my experience at Marlan was great and the team were excellent to work with and be around. It gave me an insight into the industry and its workings as well as providing me with challenges to improve my knowledge and skills.”

Marlan will be deploying a Synoptic 4D radar system at Pevensey bay this year for the University of Southampton. Eilean will be working closely with academics and PhD students at the University to help analyse the data gathered throughout the deployment. This will further expose her to data analysis techniques for remote sensing and enhance her knowledge of observational data science. Marlan hopes to work with her again in the future and she will no doubt have a successful career, whatever path she chooses.


Promoting development and diversity


Eilean’s time working with Marlan reflects their belief in the importance of welcoming and supporting the next generation into the workplace. Young adults need these opportunities to gain insight into different industries and be able to use that experience to inform their career choices. Marlan feels that it is also vital to foster and support diversity; encouraging different problem-solving approaches and alternative points of view within their team.

Dr Melanie Sinclair, director at Marlan, commented “our time with Eilean was a great success – we very much enjoyed having her as part of the team. It has inspired us to look further into working with universities, schools and colleges and offering projects to more students from a range of different experiences and backgrounds.”

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