Underwater observatory built in Canada transmitting data from Antarctica


A cache of scientific equipment that can fit in the back of an SUV has been lowered into the sea north of the Antarctic Peninsula and is already releasing open source data for anyone who wants to monitor the health of the Southern Ocean.

Scientists say the underwater observatory collects measurements including temperature, oxygen concentration and chlorophyll levels, and will fill a data gap to help understand the impact of climate change on the waters around Antarctica.

The project is jointly led by Ocean Networks Canada, University of Victoria, and the Spanish National Research Council.

Kate Moran, CEO of Ocean Networks, said that before the station was installed, data in Antarctica came mainly from surface satellites, some floating research equipment and people on cruises.

The Canadian-built equipment now sits about 23 meters deep near a Spanish research station on Livingston Island in the South Shetlands archipelago, where it is expected to remain for years.

WATCH | The president of Ocean Networks Canada explains his collaboration with Spanish scientists:

University of Victoria partners with Spanish scientists to create Antarctic observatory

The University of Victoria, through its Oceans Network Canada (ONC) initiative, has partnered with scientists from a Spanish Antarctic station to set up one of their observatories to observe ocean conditions in real time . CBC News spoke with ONC President and CEO Kate Moran about the project, intended to gather information on one of the most under-observed regions on the planet.

Kohen Bauer, senior scientist at Ocean Networks Canada, says the Southern Ocean and its circumpolar current are key to water circulation in the region, and having long-term data from a stationary location will help researchers to spot changes.

The current that surrounds the continent connects the basins of the Atlantic, Indian and South Pacific oceans.

The observatory, which also measures water conductivity, depth and clarity, posts updated data to Ocean Networks Canada’s online dashboard approximately every 30 minutes.

“This is a long, continuous time series and there are actually very few of them in the world, let alone in the Southern Ocean,” says Bauer.

“We are trying to establish a continuous time series of these ocean variables. And it is with these established time series that we can begin to ask, or interpret the data, in the context of key questions, both locally and at real level. on a regional and potentially global scale.

The data could detect changes in sea ice, glacier formation and ice retreat, he says.

“Ultimately, it’s about connecting these types of observations, let’s say, to bigger picture issues like climate change,” he says.

Moran says that understanding how the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by greenhouse gases can help predict future trends.

“Colder oceans, like the Arctic and Southern Ocean, can absorb more CO2 than other places,” she says.

“So understanding how this is happening now and how we can predict it helps us better understand the natural carbon system and predict the future, no matter what happens in terms of emissions.”

Last year, following a symposium on the Southern Ocean, 300 scientists from 25 countries issued a statement calling for better observation.

It says the ocean has seen record sea ice levels, record temperatures and dramatic changes in penguin populations, among other changes.

“The chronic lack of observations for the Southern Ocean challenges our ability to detect and assess the consequences of change,” the statement said.

“As such, it is more urgent than ever for a sustained and coordinated Southern Ocean observing system to enable understanding of current conditions, inform predictions about future states and support policies and regulations for the benefit of society.”

All points west6:00 a.m.Canadian and Spanish researchers are teaming up to create a new Antarctic Ocean observatory.

Members of Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) and the Spanish National Research Council are establishing a new underwater observatory in the Antarctic Ocean. Ocean Networks Canada President and CEO Kate Moran told host Jason D’Souza that ONC researchers will operate the underwater observatory.

David Hik, chief scientist at Polar Knowledge Canada, which manages Canada’s scientific contributions to Antarctica under the Department of Northern Affairs, says the observatory and work with Spain is an example of the type of contribution that Canada can bring to Antarctic science.

“Any new observations will have a significant impact on our ability to better understand what is happening in these environments and how they change over time,” he says.

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