Robot fleet dives into ine ow snow for climate response

CSIRO RV Investigator. Loan: CSIRO

An Australian research trip to explore how life in the South Ocean captures and stores carbon from the atmosphere.

A new generation of deep-sea ocean robots will be deployed in the South Ocean to study how marine life acts as a handbrake on global warming.

BGC-ARGO bio-optical float

BGC-ARGO bio-optical float with miniature underwater vision profile (UVP). Credit: David Lockett

Automated probes will search for “sea snow,” a shower of dead algae մասն carbon-rich organic particles that sink from the upper waters to the deep ocean.

Navigating from Hobart last Friday, twenty researchers on CSIRO’s RV Investigator hope to capture a more detailed picture of how marine life in the South Ocean captures and retains carbon from the atmosphere.

Oy’s chief travel scientist, Professor Philip Boyd of AAPP և IMAS, said it was the first voyage of its kind to combine shipwreck, deep-sea robots, automated ocean liners and satellite measurements.

“Ocean microscopic algae are responsible for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as much as forests dry it,” said Prof. Boyd.

“When they die, these tiny carbon-rich particles slowly fall to the ocean floor, like a snow globe.”

“We are excited about how this combination of new imaging sensors will give us a much, much clearer picture of how ocean life helps to accumulate carbon.”

“It’s a bit like an astronomer being able to study only one star at a time when he can suddenly observe a galaxy in three dimensions.”

A fleet of robots is sinking for climate response


Professor Boyd said the study would improve our understanding of the process, which scientists call the “carbon pump” because it is responsible for pumping large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere into the ocean.

“We are just beginning to understand how a biological carbon pump works, but we know that it helps remove about a quarter of all the carbon dioxide that a person emits by burning fossil fuels. «

“During the voyage we will deploy deep-diving robotic flames և a sailing fleet that uses new bio-optical sensors to” photograph “the density of algae at different depths.”

“When they return to the surface of the ocean, those flames will immediately transmit their data to us via satellite.”

“It is a serious step forward in our ability to measure carbon sequestration through seawater,” he said. Boyd.

The program includes contributions from CSIRO, the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Research at the University of Tasmania (IMAS); Australian National University University of Curtin և Australia Antarctic Program Partnership (AAPP).

This research is supported by the CSIRO National Maritime Organization’s RV Investigator providing sea time.

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