A senior marine scientist from The University of Western Australia has been appointed to lead a milestone expedition to the Indian Ocean next year on board Australia's newest marine research vessel, RV Investigator.
Winthrop Professor Anya Waite, from UWA's Oceans Institute, will be chief scientist on a 24-day research voyage in June 2014 that starts and ends in Broome.
She will lead a team of Australian and international scientists on board the RV Investigator examining whether iron-rich dust stimulates nitrogen fixation in the eastern Indian Ocean.
"This will be one of the largest Australian-led expeditions to the eastern Indian Ocean in 50 years," Professor Waite said.
"There will be some 30 researchers, including scientists from the US, UK, Germany and Canada, as well as colleagues from across Australia."
The new ship will dramatically increase Australia's blue-water research capability when commissioned later this year.
The 94-metre vessel is currently being built in Singapore by Australia's Marine National Facility (MNF), which is operated and owned by the CSIRO and funded by the Australian Government.
The RV Investigator will enhance scientists' ability to study fisheries, marine ecosystems and environment, marine geosciences, oceanography, climate, fisheries and marine environment.
It will replace the smaller 66-metre Southern Surveyor, which is reaching the end of its life as an operational research vessel.
The MNF says the the RV Investigator will be able to stay longer at sea, travel to edge of the Antarctic ice and carry more scientific researchers and equipment than its predecessor.
The new vessel can accommodate 40 scientists and spend up to 60 days at sea, covering up 10,000 nautical miles.
You can follow RV Investigator's progress at its CSIRO blog.