Mag­nif­i­cent seven seaglid­ers send back live data to sci­en­tists

The Oban Times - - Business -

ROBOTICun­der­wa­ter seaglid­ers used by the Oban-based Scot­tish As­so­ci­a­tion for Marine Science (SAMS) have now gath­ered the equiv­a­lent of five years of oceano­graphic data, most of which was col­lected in the past 18 months.

This mile­stone, which was reached last month, high­lights a ma­jor change in how marine sci­en­tists col­lect in­for­ma­tion such as sea tem­per­a­ture, salin­ity, pres­sure and oxy­gen, as the six-feet-long seaglid­ers can spend months at sea col­lect­ing data which con­trib­utes to our un­der­stand­ing of cli­mate change.

To date, the seven SAMS seaglid­ers have spent the equiv­a­lent of five years at sea, trav­el­ling more than 33,000 kilo­me­tres.

One of the seaglid­ers, Ard­beg, has this week bro­ken a SAMS dis­tance record by com­plet­ing a re­turn trip of more than 3,400km along the Ex­tend- ed Ellett Line, a route from Scot­land to Ice­land that has been sur­veyed by sci­en­tists for 40 years.

Dr Ste­fan Gary, a re­search as­so­ciate in phys­i­cal oceanog­ra­phy at SAMS, said: ‘Seaglid­ers al­low oceanog­ra­phers to make cost- ef­fec­tive, longterm, and long- dis­tance ob­ser­va­tions, of­ten in hard-to-ac­cess re­gions that ships rarely fre­quent and other ocean robots rarely go.

‘Be­cause of their dura­bil­ity we of­ten de­ploy them in the win­ter, as they have been known to with­stand ex­treme storm-force con­di­tions.

‘Seaglid­ers also al­low for very dense sam­pling of the ocean, col­lect­ing a pro­file ev­ery three kilo­me­tres, while a sur­vey ves­sel usu­ally sam­ples ev­ery 10 to 30 kilo­me­tres.’

Seaglid­ers col­lect data down to 1,000m as they slowly sub­merge to­wards the seabed and then rise to the sur­face, us­ing fixed wings and a hy­dro­dy­namic shape to cre­ate a for­ward move­ment.

To sub­merge, a bat­tery-pow­ered pump moves oil into a pres­surised con­tainer, in­creas­ing the den­sity of the glider in the wa­ter and caus­ing it to sink.

To bring the glider to the sur­face, oil is pumped back into a blad­der to in­crease buoy­ancy.

Live data is sent by the glid­ers via satel­lite to the pilots at SAMS, who can con­trol and re- di­rect them re­motely in near real-time.

Cur­rently, the SAMS Seaglid­ers are con­tribut­ing to three ma­jor projects, mon­i­tor­ing the evo­lu­tion of the wa­ters flow­ing be­tween Scot­land and Ice­land; the phys­i­cal ex­change pro­cesses be­tween the deep ocean and shelf seas; and an in­ter­na­tional pro­ject, which will mon­i­tor the oceano­graphic cir­cu­la­tion across the sub­po­lar North At­lantic un­til 2018.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.