Tropical Marine Science Institute, Singapore



Coastal water systems are complex and dynamic, constantly changing due to natural and man-made phenomenon, as well as climate change. The continuous monitoring of coastal systems means being able to better understand how they behave and change, and how they impact marine life.

Since 2014, the Hydroinformatics Institute has helped Singapore’s Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI) track and understand seasonal changes in water characteristics and current circulation in Singapore’s coastal waters through the use of an integrated rosette system and Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP). TMSI is a Centre of Excellence for research, development and consultancy in tropical marine science and environmental science within the National University of Singapore,

H2i also gathers and analyzes data to assist TMSI in measuring ocean depth (bathymetry) and seabed mapping.

Environmental monitoring program

In collaboration with TMSI, H2i measures several water quality parameters over entire water columns at different locations across Singapore’s port waters. These parameters include the water’s physical properties, suspended sediment concentration and particle size distribution.

Measurements are taken during both the monsoon and the inter-monsoon periods, and are analyzed for an understanding of seasonal changes and how they impact the quality of Singapore’s waters.

Monitoring sediment dynamics on coral reefs

The use of multi-beam surveys and current measurements produce high-resolution structural information on the coral reefs around Singapore. The multi-beam system measures water depth at interval grids of less than 0.5m, delivering high-resolution georeferenced depth data, while acoustic signals reflected from the seabed deliver sidescan backscatter data for seabed mapping and the inspection of underwater infrastructures, among other things.

This helps TMSI better understand the influence of the physical structure of the reefs on reef hydrodynamics and sediment behavior and transport, as well as the role coral reefs play in local sediment fluxes. Terrestrial sediment fluxes due to currents in the area can result in increased sedimentation and turbidity in the receiving waters, and have a detrimental impact on coral reef ecosystems.

The multi-beam survey has broad application. It can be used for seabed mapping, harbour surveys, inspection of underwater infrastructures, the detection and mapping of objects on the seafloor, and habitat mapping.