Probing deeper into oceans requires help from high tech equipment

October 14, 2010
The IMOS Ocean Portal - data from the open ocean observing array is made available to scientists and the public via the Internet Image credit: IMOS

Australian scientists are preparing to use the data from a new $22m array of high-tech equipment to help them probe deeper into the nation’s surrounding oceans.

The new technology is part of a vastly improved set of tools provided by the Australian Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) to study the open .

"What is happening in the open ocean is vitally important to all Australians and their understanding of local and regional climate," says IMOS Director, Tim Moltmann. "It drives our climate and weather extremes, is the workplace for offshore industries and maritime defence activities and contains a diversity of marine life that currently is barely described.

"We need to observe this part of the earth system to understand how it’s changing, and what the impacts might be on current and future generations of Australians."

Carrying out research in harsh, remote regions of the planet is extremely challenging, and technology plays an increasingly important role.

The open ocean observing array will include:

  • Autonomous profiling floats that ‘sense’ breaks in the sea ice to transmit their data.
  • Marine mammals equipped with satellite tags.
  • Underwater gliders that spend months at sea, controlled by land-based ‘pilots’.
  • Huge moorings engineered to withstand some of the wildest ocean conditions.
Mr. Moltmann said IMOS brings together ocean and climate scientists from research institutions across the nation, including the University of Tasmania, CSIRO, Australian Antarctic Division, Bureau of Meteorology, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Sydney Institute of Marine Science, and University of Western Australia.

A feature is continued collaboration with northern hemisphere partners, including the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and Korea.

CSIRO oceanographer and leader of the IMOS ocean and climate node, Dr. Susan Wijffels, says IMOS is helping to foster a new era of cooperation between scientific disciplines that have not traditionally worked together.

"This is a unique approach to monitoring the linkage between the physical properties of oceans, such as temperature and salinity, and how they influence the marine ecosystem," Dr. Wijffels says.

Explore further: Ocean study explores link with Australian rainfall

Related Stories

Ocean study explores link with Australian rainfall

July 28, 2004

A five-nation oceanographic team is taking the first steps in a $3.6 million project studying the major flow of ocean currents between Asia and Australia and how they influence rainfall across Southern Australia and Indonesia.

Ocean robots network achieves universal coverage

November 12, 2007

Scientist’s efforts to fathom how the oceans influence climate and fisheries productivity enter a new era this month with the milestone establishment of a network of 3,000 futuristic, 1.5-metre tall ocean robots operating ...

Southern Ocean seals dive deep for climate data

August 11, 2008

( -- Elephant seals are helping scientists overcome a critical blind-spot in their ability to detect change in Southern Ocean circulation and sea ice production and its influence on global climate.

'Ocean glider' home after two-month voyage

April 16, 2009

Scientists are celebrating the first successful deployment and retrieval in Australia of a remotely controlled, deep ocean-going robotic submarine destined to play a central role in measuring changes in two of Australia's ...

Highest-ever winter water temperatures recorded

August 6, 2009

( -- Tasmania’s east coast is recording its highest-ever winter water temperatures of more than 13ºC - up to 1.5ºC above normal - due to a strengthening of an ocean current originating north of Australia.

Recommended for you

Asteroid impact, volcanism were one-two punch for dinosaurs

October 1, 2015

Berkeley geologists have uncovered compelling evidence that an asteroid impact on Earth 66 million years ago accelerated the eruptions of volcanoes in India for hundreds of thousands of years, and that together these planet-wide ...

History shows more big wildfires likely as climate warms

October 5, 2015

The history of wildfires over the past 2,000 years in a northern Colorado mountain range indicates that large fires will continue to increase as a result of a warming climate, according to new study led by a University of ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.