Credit: Mike Tassia
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is helping San Diego researchers get a more complete picture of the ocean’s health.
The NSF delivered $53 million to help expand an already extensive, global ocean monitoring system. The money will allow scientists to build and deploy 500 drifting monitors in oceans around the globe.
“Our goal is to cover the global ocean,” said Lynne Talley, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography researcher. “So if you take a beach ball earth, take a globe, you hold it in your hand and look at all the oceans. It’s speckling that with these floats.”
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The devices will rise and sink in the ocean and send data to satellites when they surface. They cannot propel themselves and instead move with the ocean currents.
The new floats have already been tested in the Southern Ocean where they were deployed around Antarctica.
“We’re going to be measuring oxygen,” Talley said. “Nitrate, which is a nutrient. We all need nitrate to live. The ocean needs nitrate. Organisms need it. And we’ll be measuring pH which is the acidity. And we’ll be measuring fluorescents which is related to Chlorophyll. And backscatter which is particles.”
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Talley said they will not replace the need to send research vessels to record what is happening. But the sensor has the advantage of being in the ocean all the time.
This is the first major expansion of the 20-year-old ARGO ocean monitoring system of about four thousand floats. The new floats will be more capable than the existing floats because they will be able to measure more things, like ocean microbes.
The new devices will help scientists understand how global warming is impacting the oceans.
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