Sensor-based Assessment on In Lake processes and water quality - Scientific INvestigation and Growing environmental awareness

Caipirina Fantini

Ecological research has always required a considerable commitment in terms of economic resources for the collection of physical, chemical and biological data. Moreover, in spite of these high costs, the amount of information produced may not always be sufficient to answer the questions of the researchers. This happens in particular when you want to study phenomena that involve organisms whose life cycles are carried out on spatial and temporal scales often incompatible with the timing and the methodologies of the traditional limnological monitoring.

Recently, there is a growing shift of Internet to the world of objects, so that the Internet of Things (IoT) is now seen as a possible evolution in the use of the Net.
The spread of open projects and products, both hardware and software, widely used in IoT, allows, even in limnological research, to design and implement microcontroller systems able to collect, store and transmit real-time environmental data at high frequency. .


Thanks to the support of FANTINI Rubinetti, it was possible to buy electronic components and sensors, to assemble a multi-parameter measuring system and to build aboard the vessel the structures to host the measuring probes. The system is adaptable to specific needs and implementable with different type of sensors.


LAGO MAGGIORE D'ORTA IN VELA is an editorial project that involves both Italian lake ( Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta ). A team of professional photographers will spend two years aboard a sailboat, using even drones capable of photographing angles and aspects of lake and of the mountain territory, still unexplored. The goal is to create a photo book full of video documentaries.

Contact: Walter Zerla

Web site:

Caipirina Fantini

The Projects LAGO MAGGIORE IN VELA and LAGO D'ORTA IN VELA have provided a unique opportunity to start, a scientific monitoring of both lakes based on the use of sensors measuring limnological parameters with a high temporal and spatial frequency. So started the SAILING project (Sensor-based Assessment on processes and water quality in Lake - Scientific Investigation and Growing environmental awareness).
On the stern of Caipirina Fantini a steel pipe was installed, to host the probes' cables: at the lower end of the pipe, around 1 m below the water surface, a protective cage accommodates the sensors measuring certain limnological parameters, during the cruise. The system was fully designed in the laboratories of CNR ISE and will provide a large amount of limnological data, useful for the analysis of ecological phenomena on scales that were unthinkable until now. These data will be used to analyze, for example, the response of the planktonic communities to extreme weather events, such as heavy rains or drought, or to fluctuations in the level of the lake.

Walter Zerla within the Caipirina Fantini

.After the experience acquired on Lake Maggiore in 2014, the SAILING project moved to Lake Orta since January 2015. Data collected from the boat are the same as those collected in Lake Maggiore, i.e. pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen and water temperature. A sensor measuring chlorophyll concentration will be added soon. All the data are transferred in real time and may be seen on a dedicated web portal:

The figures show some examples of spatial representation of the data collected on Lake Orta during the cruise on 8th March 2015; the yellow line is the sailboat journey. Gradients of temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH and conductivity are clear, showing the heterogeneity of environmental conditions across the lake.
The ongoing project will provide a prospect to analyze in details the spatial and temporal heterogeneity of the measured parameters in relation to the processes that govern lake’s dynamics .


The figures show some examples of the spatial representation of the data collected during the cruise on Lake Maggiore during 2014.

Cruise June 27, 2014 Cruise July 03, 2014

Cruise July 01, 2014 Cruise July 02, 2014


The activities are also part of the EU COST Action (ES 1201) NETLAKE (Networking lake Observatories in Europe), in which the CNR ISE is involved, that aims to build a network of sites and individuals to support the development and deployment of sensor-based systems in lakes and reservoirs, and promote their use to address both current and future water quality issues in Europe.