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Building with Nature Guideline > Toolbox > Monitoring > Fibre-optic distributed temperature sensing for monitoring morphological changes

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Fibre-optic distributed temperature sensing for monitoring morphological changes

Type: Hardware and Software

Project Phase: Operation and Maintenance

Purpose: Real time monitoring of morphological changes

Requirements: Knowledge on installation and DTS systems; Matlab skills for data processing

Relevant Software: Matlab


The use of fibre-optic Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS) is a promising new technique to measure morphological changes. Fibre-optic distributed temperature sensing   uses a single fibre-optical cable as a sensor, and allows measuring temperature with a resolution below 0.1˚C, spatial resolution of less than 1 meter and sub-minute temporal resolution (Hausner et al, 2011). It was originally developed by the oil and gas industries as a borehole logging tool (e.g. Kersey, 2010). Other applications include pipeline monitoring and fire detection and protection. For several years, the technology has been used increasingly to monitor environmental temperatures (Selker et al., 2006; Tyler et al., 2009; Vogt et al., 2010). Here, fibre-optic DTS is applied to monitor morphological changes.

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How to Use

To apply fibre-optics in the field, experience with splicing (i.e. precise welding of fibre-optics to connectors) is crucial. Knowledge of computer systems and the DTS system is practical. The data from the DTS-system can be analysed using Matlab.

  1. Phased Plan Process
  2. Installation of a fibre-optic DTS system
  3. Advice and recommendations

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Practical Applications

Fibre-optics are applied to monitor the morphological changes of an experimental sand nourishment on the shallow foreshore of the Workumerwaard, the Frisian coast of the IJsselmeer in the Netherlands. The goal of this pilot is to investigate potential strategies for revitalising the ecologically valuable wave-attenuating wetland in front of the primary flood defence, and see to what extent this enables this area to follow a gradual increase of the lake level. The effects of the nourishment on terrestrial and aquatic ecology are monitored, as well as the hydrodynamics and the changes in morphology.

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