Nearly four thousand robots are roaming our oceans. The robots collect and transmit data online, giving scientists a better understanding of how ocean currents and temperatures change. But can robots help us understand climate change?
Climate change is the topic of the moment, with every year bringing new records of global melting, heat waves, storms, and wildfires. While climate change is not good overall, some parts of the world are better than others. The oceans, for example, seem relatively unaffected by climate change on the surface. But the oceans are massive and contain 99 percent of Earth’s water—so small changes can have major global implications.
The ocean is one of the last unexplored frontiers on the planet. It has a dark and mysterious history and countless mysteries left to unravel. But a new technological frontier is being opened in our oceans: the official introduction of 4,000 autonomous robots into our oceans. These robots will scour the ocean floor, mapping it as they go. And their revolutionary technology could revolutionize our ability to study and understand our oceans.
Why Do We Require Such a Large Network as Argo?
Scientists and researchers have been able to gather massive amounts of data over the years about the ocean. Still, until recently, there hasn’t been a way to gather and process that data in real-time affordably. Enter the Argo Program. Using a network of at least 4,000 autonomous underwater vehicles—or “autonomous ocean robots”—that form a grid from pole to pole, scientists can collect unprecedented data and create real-time maps of the ocean.
Climate change is happening all around us. It’s happening to the polar bears and penguins, and it’s happening to you. Every summer, temperatures climb to the poles, and the polar ice caps shrink due to global warming. The goal of ocean research has been pretty simple: understand climate change, and now, understand our oceans better.
What Is the Cost of a Typical Float?
It’s not often that an event happens in our nation’s history that more of us get to witness than actually get to participate in. But you won’t need to purchase a ferry ticket anytime soon for all you landlocked folks. This month, a team of scientists and engineers began a quest on the high seas, where they hope to conduct what will ultimately be the largest ever experiment in oceanography. This seemingly unfathomably ambitious project, called Argo, will deploy 4,000 autonomous (self-moving) robots from 195 countries to 24 locations in our oceans. The robots will collect data, observe ocean conditions, and help scientists better understand our ocean’s health if all goes as planned.
More than 4,000 robots travel more than 1 million miles in the Pacific Ocean each year. They gather data to study the ocean’s currents, water temperatures, and salinity distribution. Now, for the first time, you can see these pioneering robots, used by researchers worldwide to study the ocean, up close.
The ocean is filled with life, but 95% of marine life is invisible to the naked eye. Scientists estimate that there are 4,000 times more microbes, bacteria, and archaea than humans living on Earth, most of which live in the ocean. But the only way to see these organisms is through high-tech robots carrying their cameras, spectrometers, and sensors. Scientists use these robots to study the ocean, monitor climate change, predict seafloor spreading rates, and map out the ocean’s deepest depths.
The marine robots will keep an eye on the ecosystem, and the data they collect can back up scientists’ predictions about the effects of climate change. The oceans are a place of wonder and beauty but also a breeding ground for climate change. Scientists are also discovering that robots threaten the oceans.
The oceans are as unpredictable as ever, thanks to climate change. Some scientists even think the seas may be warming faster than the atmosphere.
Although this latest study doesn’t pinpoint the heating source, the researchers say even a slight weakening of the thermohaline circulation could throw ocean currents adrift. If that happens, it may disrupt ocean circulation patterns, which, in turn, could lead to ice melting and flooding coastal cities.