A critical parameter to assess the environmental status of water bodies is the transparency of the water, as it is strongly affected by different water quality related components (such as the presence of phytoplankton, organic matter and sediment concentrations). One parameter to assess the water transparency is the diffuse attenuation coefficient. However, the number of subsurface irradiance measurements obtained with conventional instrumentation is relatively low, due to instrument costs and the logistic requirements to provide regular and autonomous observations. In recent years, the citizen science concept has increased the number of environmental observations, both in time and space. The recent technological advances in embedded systems and sensors also enable volunteers (citizens) to create their own devices (known as Do-It-Yourself or DIY technologies). In this paper, a DIY instrument to measure irradiance at different depths and automatically calculate the diffuse attenuation Kd coefficient is presented. The instrument, named KdUINO, is based on an encapsulated low-cost photonic sensor and Arduino (an open-hardware platform for the data acquisition). The whole instrument has been successfully operated and the data validated comparing the KdUINO measurements with the commercial instruments. Workshops have been organized with high school students to validate its feasibility.
Keywords: Arduino; KdUINO; buoy; citizen science; diffuse attenuation coefficient; do-it-yourself; light; low-cost sensor; oceanography.