‘Gliders’ to probe ocean depths

By on 19 October, 2010


Australian scientists are preparing to use data from a $22m array of high-tech equipment to help them probe deeper into the nation’s coastal oceans.

The technology is part of a vastly improved set of tools provided by the Australian Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) to study the open ocean.

Floats that ‘sense’ breaks in the sea ice will transmit their data back to base via satellite as will 15 elephant seals that have been tagged with conductivity, temperature and depth (CTD) tags over summer last year.

11 underwater ocean gliders will transmit information on conductivity (for salinity), temperature, dissolved oxygen, fluorescence, turbidity and CDOM (dissolved organic matter) in the same way.

The gliders are able to operate to a maximum depth of 1000m and can travel uninterrupted for up  to 6 months.

The IMOS project will also use satellite remote sensing, especially to analyse ocean surface topography and ocean colour.

In addition huge deepwater moorings will monitor sea currents.

IMOS director Tim Moltmann said what happens in the open ocean is vitally important to all Australians and their understanding of climate.

 “It drives our climate and weather extremes, is the workplace for offshore industries and maritime defence activities and contains a diversity of marine life that currently is barely described,” he said.

“We need to observe this part of the earth system to understand how it’s changing, and what the impacts might be on current and future generations of Australians.”

The project brings together ocean and climate scientists from research institutions across the nation, including the University of Tasmania, CSIRO, Australian Antarctic Division, Bureau of Meteorology, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Sydney Institute of Marine Science, and University of Western Australia.


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