East Coast gliders yield valuable marine life data

Feb 28, 2011
Electronics engineer Lindsay Macdonald (left) and oceanographer Ken Ridgway with the deep ocean glider that has been generating substantial profiles of the Tasman Sea. Credit: CSIRO

The influence ocean eddies have on marine life in the oceans surrounding Australia’s south-east is expected to become clearer after scientists examine data from new deep-diving research ‘gliders’ patrolling the East Australian Current.

Eddies can be up to 200 kilometres across and they distribute heat and nutrients around the ocean and form their own distinct habitat. An insight into ocean eddies is also an insight into how ocean dynamics influences regional climate.

CSIRO scientists and technicians last month retrieved one of three gliders working in south-east after a five-month program criss-crossing the East Australian Current.

“We will see in significantly more detail than ever before the profile of the ocean eddies spinning off the East Australian Current which are critical to shaping the composition of the biological hotspots driving fisheries production and supporting ,” says oceanographer Ken Ridgway at the CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship.

South-west of Tasmania another glider has been measuring a deep ocean current called the Tasman Outflow, that feeds into the global network of ocean currents.

The research project is funded through the Australian Climate Change Science Program, a joint program between CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.

Mr. Ridgway is Bluewater and Climate Node co-leader in Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), a $100 million project to observe the oceans and seas around Australia. IMOS provides research infrastructure around the country, including these gliders, to deliver data streams for use by the entire Australian marine and climate science community and its international collaborators.

The IMOS fleet of deep ocean gliders also operate in the waters off New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia. They are piloted by staff at the University of Western Australia.

The glider observing the East Australian Current travelled up to 250km east of Tasmania, making eight crossings in total of the Current, and taking measurements of temperature and salinity to a depth of 1000m.

Mr. Ridgway said CSIRO has been working with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science studying the ocean eddies formed in the EAC and moving southwards. 

“Gliders allow us to investigate these processes in considerably more detail and are a tremendously exciting option for ocean scientists.

“The latest design can descend to nearly 6000m and remain at sea for up to 18 months,” Mr. Ridgway said.

Explore further: Image: Grand Canyon geology lessons on view

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Ocean glider' home after two-month voyage

Apr 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 ...

Highest-ever winter water temperatures recorded

Aug 06, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- 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 ...

Recommended for you

Six Nepalese dead, six missing in Everest avalanche

3 hours ago

At least six Nepalese climbing guides have been killed and six others are missing after an avalanche struck Mount Everest early Friday in one of the deadliest accidents on the world's highest peak, officials ...

Clean air: Fewer sources for self-cleaning

17 hours ago

Up to now, HONO, also known as nitrous acid, was considered one of the most important sources of hydroxyl radicals (OH), which are regarded as the detergent of the atmosphere, allowing the air to clean itself. ...

There's something ancient in the icebox

17 hours ago

Glaciers are commonly thought to work like a belt sander. As they move over the land they scrape off everything—vegetation, soil, and even the top layer of bedrock. So scientists were greatly surprised ...

Image: Grand Canyon geology lessons on view

Apr 17, 2014

The Grand Canyon in northern Arizona is a favorite for astronauts shooting photos from the International Space Station, as well as one of the best-known tourist attractions in the world. The steep walls of ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Six Nepalese dead, six missing in Everest avalanche

At least six Nepalese climbing guides have been killed and six others are missing after an avalanche struck Mount Everest early Friday in one of the deadliest accidents on the world's highest peak, officials ...

There's something ancient in the icebox

Glaciers are commonly thought to work like a belt sander. As they move over the land they scrape off everything—vegetation, soil, and even the top layer of bedrock. So scientists were greatly surprised ...

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

'Exotic' material is like a switch when super thin

(Phys.org) —Ever-shrinking electronic devices could get down to atomic dimensions with the help of transition metal oxides, a class of materials that seems to have it all: superconductivity, magnetoresistance ...