Sofia Aniceto » Members

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Sofia Aniceto

PhD candidate Akvaplan-niva and ARCEx (Arctic Research Center for Petroleum Exploration)Arctic R&D
Work address Akvaplan-niva AS Fram Centre Tromsø 9296 Norway Work Phone: +47 77 75 03 74 Website: ARCEx – Research Centre for Arctic Petroleum Exploration
Photo of Sofia Aniceto


PhD Project title:

Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for marine mammal surveys in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions.

PhD Project description:

The petroleum industry is interested in developing sound environmental approaches to perform their exploration and development activities in Arctic regions. Top predators are a key component of the Arctic ecosystem. Given the climatic restrictions to access in these areas, it has been difficult to make routine assessments of the seasonal distributions and abundances of top predators. This has accelerated the technological development of new image acquisition systems for use in combination with UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). The combination of image acquisition systems deployed by UAVs may lead to substantial improvements in the routine assessment of top predators in their natural habitats and, in particular, in their behavioral reactions to industrial activities.

Therefore, the principal objective of this PhD project is to assess the survey capabilities of UAVs to detect and monitor marine mammals. Different image acquisition systems will be used and assessed in order to determine the most appropriate technology to be deployed on UAVs for marine mammal surveys. This will serve as a test case for the application of UAVs for general marine mammal surveys. The research will help establish new technological approaches for mitigating the effects of anthropogenic activities in the marine environment. This PhD project will examine whether and how UAVs may be used to understand the seasonality and distribution of marine mammals in locations with potential for seismic exploration activities to be performed. UAVs may provide assistance in the preparation for seismic exploration, considering both the timing and optimal location for operations. In addition, the project will examine the performance of UAVs in relation to traditional marine mammal detection methods, such as passive acoustics and ship/land-based observations.

In this project, computer simulations with tagging data will be developed to better understand the data that should be acquired by the UAV, testing different scenarios of transects (flight patterns), and environmental conditions. This will allow us to determine the optimal operational procedure for monitoring behavior and assessing animal distribution under various scenarios. Taken together, this PhD project will lead to improved understanding of the uses and capabilities of UAVs outfitted with image acquisition systems for applications of direct relevance for the environmental management of petroleum operations in Arctic regions.

Start date: March 2015
End date: March 2018


JoLynn Carroll (Akvaplan-niva, UiT, Tromsø, Norway)
Martin Biuw (Akvaplan-niva, Tromsø, Norway)
Ulf Lindstrøm (IMR, Tromsø, Norway)

Relevant scientific publications:

  1. Aniceto, A.S., Carroll, J., Tetley, M.J., van-Oosterhout, C. (2016) Position, swimming direction and group size of fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) in the presence of a fast-ferry in the Bay of Biscay. PDF


  1. Dahl-Hansen, I., Andrade, H., Aniceto, A.S., Larsen, L.-H., Isaksen, O., Rosendal Valeur, J., Svindal Stenberg, E. (2012) Konsekvensutredning Jan Mayen; Andre miljøkonsekvenser av plantlagt virksomhet. Akvaplan-niva report APN-5953.01
  2. Dahl-Hansen, I., Andrade, H., Aniceto, A.S., Larsen, L.-H., Rosendal Valeur, J., Svindal Stenberg, E. (2012) Konsekvensutredning Barentshavet sørøst; Andre miljøkonsekvenser av planlagt virksomhet. SAK 12-892. Akvaplan-niva report APN-5953.02

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