Robotic floats to be launched in Indian ocean

Robotic floats to be launched in Indian ocean

Robotic floats to be launched in Indian ocean

Robotic floats armed with revolutionary new sensors will be launched in the Indian Ocean as part of a new India-Australia research partnership to identify the causes and impacts of marine heat waves.

The Argo floats are a network of 3600 free-floating sensors, operating in open ocean areas that provide real-time data on ocean temperature and salinity, a statement released by Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) said today.

The new 'Bio Argo' floats, to be launched in mid 2014, will enhance the already successful Argo float technology to measure large-scale changes in the chemistry and biology of marine ecosystems below the Indian Ocean's surface, it said.

The 'Bio Argo' floats will include additional sensors for dissolved oxygen, nitrate, chlorophyll, dissolved organic matter, and particle scattering. They will target specific gaps in our understanding of Indian Ocean ecosystems of immediate concern to India and Australia, such as the Bay of Bengal and the waters of north Western Australia.

The pilot project led by CSIRO in collaboration with Indian National Institute of Oceanography (CSIR-NIO) and  Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services, will improve the understanding of cause and effect in the Indian Ocean's climate and ecosystems, said Nick Hardman-Mountford, Marine Biophysics team leader at CSIRO.

"By studying the Indian Ocean in this detail, we can investigate the origin and impact of marine heat waves like the one that devastated the coral reefs and fisheries off north Western Australian in 2011 and improve our prediction of them in the future," Mountford said.

According to CSIR-NIO Director, Wajih Naqvi, the novel technological innovation will give researchers from both countries a new understanding of the Indian Ocean.

"We expect the technology being utilised in this project to provide new insights into the bio geochemistry of the Indian Ocean and how it is being impacted by human activities," Naqvi said.

"By combining the research capabilities of India and Australia we will see an improved ability to predict and prepare for global climate change, as well as better conservation of marine biodiversity," said Nick D'Adamo said head of the Perth Programme Office supporting UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) .

The USD 1 million project was funded in part by the Australian Government under the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund.

The Indian Ocean contains vast fisheries and mineral resources that are of strategic importance to both Australia and India and it also plays a direct role in driving the climates of its surrounding regions-home to more than 16 per cent of the world's population.

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