An ocean seaglider that is helping revolutionise ocean observations and climate science has completed its first successful deployment in the Southern Ocean.
The seaglider is one of 17 in the Australian National Facility for Ocean Gliders (ANFOG) fleet, which is operated and managed by The University of Western Australia.
UWA Winthrop Professor Charitha Pattiaratchi, who is also ANFOG Facility Leader, said the completion of the first pilot deployment demonstrated that ocean gliders were a cost-effective platform for sustained monitoring of ocean conditions around Australia.
"They are particularly useful in regions which are remote and regularly experiencing harsh ocean conditions - currently there are ocean gliders deployed off south-west Australia and the Coral Sea," Professor Pattiaratchi said.
The observations from the seagliders will allow researchers to better understand the currents and ocean parameters such as temperature and salinity in the Southern Ocean that influence the Australian climate and marine ecosystems.
"This is very important as the vast Southern Ocean plays a prominent role in the global climate system, while remaining poorly observed due to its remoteness and harsh conditions and ocean gliders are an ideal platform to observe oceanographic conditions in this region," Professor Pattiaratchi said.
The first Southern Ocean seaglider was successfully launched on March 20 at the Southern Ocean Time Series site, 680 km south-west of Tasmania. The seaglider was at sea for 76 days before CSIRO staff retrieved it from the continental shelf near Southport last Friday 4 June.
The new seaglider route received additional funding the Australian Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) in the 2009 Federal Budget to extend the system to mid-2013, specifically to enhance monitoring in the Southern Ocean and northern Australian waters.
IMOS is a nationwide collaborative program designed to observe the oceans around Australia, including the coastal and ‘bluewater' open oceans. IMOS partners comprise most of the universities and agencies with capability in ocean and marine research including The University of Western Australia, the University of Tasmania and CSIRO.
IMOS is making all of the data freely and openly available through the IMOS Ocean Portal.
IMOS is supported by the Australian Government, through the National Collaborative Infrastructure Strategy and the Super Science Initiative. It is led by the University of Tasmania on behalf of the Australian marine and climate science community.