picture courtesy Rutgers University

picture courtesy Rutgers University

As part of the Integrated Ocean Observing System, a project to collect and use ocean information continuously covering oceans, coastal waters and the Great Lakes, a 2nd attempt to launch a submarine glider took is about to take place this week.

From the AP story:

Unmanned and without a motor, the glider can rise and dive, seeking out currents that will carry it along without worrying about refueling. Whenever it comes to the surface, it radios its findings back to the scientists.

The ocean plays such a critical role in the dynamics of the climate system, having a better understanding of what’s happening in real time is invaluable information,” said Lubchenco (LUB-chen-co).

“We’re beginning to be able to infer much about the kinds of plants and animals and microbes that may be present from some of the kinds of data that the glider will be taking,” she added.

Besides providing critical information on forecasting weather and ocean conditions, the glider also serves an educational function:

Glenn said the device will be able to take a daily profile of water conditions and maneuver, directed by radio messages from student researchers. “If we can do it with one, we can do it with 10,” he said, and then with more, and that will make an impact on forecasting ocean conditions.

Possibility to become an essential tool for disaster planning:

“That’s important because the ocean is very important for climate change and it is undersampled,” said Glenn, co-director of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Coastal Ocean Observing System.

And the robots can be sent into hurricanes and into Arctic and Antarctic conditions.

“If you lose them it’s sad, but its just wires, you can build another one. These are the things that we can take risks with,” he said. “We’re doing some risk taking here that will benefit the entire scientific community.”

People in the Pacific do not need to be reminded of the abundance of the ocean:

In May, eight of the 17 Pacific island members of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission imposed a series of measures aimed at halting overfishing of stocks these nations depend on for food and revenue. Joseph calls them “the most effective measures” in any ocean where tuna is fished.

In December, the remaining nine islands on the commission joined in, imposing a conservation agenda on 20 million square miles.

The Rutgers submarine might be a valuable tool that we hope to see make its way to the S. Pacific.