Sea Technology

FEB 2018

The industry's recognized authority for design, engineering and application of equipment and services in the global ocean community

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26 ST | February 2018 O ur oceans provide us with invaluable resources that are being threatened by observed global shifts. There is a need to not only increase our understanding of the physical, chemical and biological dynamics within oceanic environments, but also to do our best to charac- terize, document and monitor the state of our oceans to raise awareness of changes that will affect our way of life. To date, less than 5 percent of the world's oceans have been explored, primarily due to the fact that it is not fea- sible to reach the deep-ocean layers, much less sample at those depths. We are limited to exploring the expan- sive surface waters that cover more than 70 percent of the Earth, and with this endeavor comes a new set of challenges. Imagine the amount of time, resources and money it would take to sample a small fraction of the ocean, even just the upper 100 m. There are numerous researchers around the globe who have committed to oceanic studies, but in a world of more than 7.5 billion people, we are a niche group. Fortunately, technological advances have brought us into the age of robotics. We are now able to configure un- manned vehicles (AUVs) to dive deeper, sample more quickly and cover more areas than old-fashioned man- power ever could. Our current efforts using autonomous vehicles have already given us a better understanding of oceanic currents, plankton migrations, nutrient cycling, temperature change and organism distributions, to name a few. Now, with satellite imaging, we have taken anoth- er big leap forward to the next age of sampling in which we can analyze large swaths of the ocean in a relatively short amount of time. This type of sampling (satellite im- aging) requires laying the groundwork to verify and cor- roborate data and then fine-tuning and highlighting the role of autonomous vehicles. Autonomous Underwater Vehicles AUVs are unmanned vehicles that carry scientific instrumentation for specific research projects. The bat- tery-driven AUV powers instruments and can be automated to sample at specific intervals as mandated by the project's specifications or con- trolled remotely, giving researchers the ability to customize sampling methods while underway. Standard configurations can include solar panels, cameras, GPS, telemetry and instrumentation that provides researchers with near-real-time data. A key factor in furthering our understanding of ocean dynamics is the development of new tools that Fluorometers: Experiences With Autonomous Vehicles Integration with AUVs Enables Extensive Ocean Studies By Lawrence Younan Wave Glider tracks for Papa Mau and Benjamin showing large fluorescence response from mid-ocean waters.

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