Tagged: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 3:53 pm on May 2, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Chemolithoautotrophs" are microbes that use chemical energy to build their bodies., "Plate Tectonics Fuels a Vast Underground Ecosystem", An interdisciplinary and international team of scientists has shown that a vast microbial ecosystem primarily eats the carbon; sulfur; and iron chemicals produced during the subduction., , , , This is the main process by which chemical elements are moved between Earth’s surface and interior and eventually recycled back to the surface., This opens the possibility for discovering previously unknown types of biological interactions occurring with deep plate tectonic processes., When oceanic and continental plates collide one plate is pushed down or subducted into the mantle and the other plate is pushed up and studded with volcanoes., Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution   

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution : “Plate Tectonics Fuels a Vast Underground Ecosystem” 

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    April 27, 2021

    1
    Scientists, including WHOI’s Peter Barry (front left) set up gas sampling apparatus. Credit: Tom Owens.

    Violent continental collisions and volcanic eruptions are not things normally associated with comfortable conditions for life. However, a new study [Nature Geoscience], coauthored by Peter Barry, assistant scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, along with University of Tennessee (US), Knoxville, Associate Professor of Microbiology Karen Lloyd, unveils a large microbial ecosystem living deep within the earth that is fueled by chemicals produced during these tectonic cataclysms.

    When oceanic and continental plates collide one plate is pushed down or subducted into the mantle and the other plate is pushed up and studded with volcanoes.

    This is the main process by which chemical elements are moved between Earth’s surface and interior and eventually recycled back to the surface.

    “Subduction zones are fascinating environments—they produce volcanic mountains and serve as portals for carbon moving between the interior and exterior of Earth,” said Maarten de Moor, associate professor at the National University of Costa Rica [Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica] (CR) and another coauthor of the study.

    Normally this process is thought to occur outside the reach of life because of the extremely high pressures and temperatures involved. Although life almost certainly does not exist at the extreme conditions where Earth’s mantle mixes with the crust to form lava, in recent decades scientists have learned that microbes extend far deeper into Earth’s crust than previously thought.

    This opens the possibility for discovering previously unknown types of biological interactions occurring with deep plate tectonic processes.

    An interdisciplinary and international team of scientists has shown that a vast microbial ecosystem primarily eats the carbon; sulfur; and iron chemicals produced during the subduction of the oceanic plate beneath Costa Rica. The team obtained these results by sampling the deep subsurface microbial communities that are brought to the surface in natural hot springs, in work funded by the Deep Carbon Observatory and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

    The team found that this microbial ecosystem sequesters a large amount of carbon produced during subduction that would otherwise escape to the atmosphere. The process results in an estimated decrease of up to 22 percent in the amount of carbon being transported to the mantle.

    “This work shows that carbon may be siphoned off to feed a large ecosystem that exists largely without input from the sun’s energy. This means that biology might affect carbon fluxes in and out of the earth’s mantle, which forces scientists to change how they think about the deep carbon cycle over geologic time scales,” said WHOI’s Barry.

    The team found that these microbes—called chemolithoautotrophs—sequester so much carbon because of their unique diet, which allows them to make energy without sunlight.

    Chemolithoautotrophs are microbes that use chemical energy to build their bodies. So, they’re like trees, but instead of using sunlight they use chemicals,” said Lloyd, a co-corresponding author of the study. “These microbes use chemicals from the subduction zone to form the base of an ecosystem that is large and filled with diverse primary and secondary producers. It’s like a vast forest, but underground.”

    This new study suggests that the known qualitative relationship between geology and biology may have significant quantitative implications for our understanding of how carbon has changed through deep time. “We already know of many ways in which biology has influenced the habitability of our planet, leading to the rise in atmospheric oxygen, for example,” said Donato Giovannelli, a professor at the University of Naples Federico II [Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II] (IT) and co-corresponding author of the study. “Now our ongoing work is revealing another exciting way in which life and our planet coevolved.”

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

    Vision & Mission

    The ocean is a defining feature of our planet and crucial to life on Earth, yet it remains one of the planet’s last unexplored frontiers. For this reason, WHOI scientists and engineers are committed to understanding all facets of the ocean as well as its complex connections with Earth’s atmosphere, land, ice, seafloor, and life—including humanity. This is essential not only to advance knowledge about our planet, but also to ensure society’s long-term welfare and to help guide human stewardship of the environment. WHOI researchers are also dedicated to training future generations of ocean science leaders, to providing unbiased information that informs public policy and decision-making, and to expanding public awareness about the importance of the global ocean and its resources.

    Mission Statement

    The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is dedicated to advancing knowledge of the ocean and its connection with the Earth system through a sustained commitment to excellence in science, engineering, and education, and to the application of this knowledge to problems facing society.

    The Institution is organized into six departments, the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Ocean Research, and a marine policy center. Its shore-based facilities are located in the village of Woods Hole, Massachusetts(US) and a mile and a half away on the Quissett Campus. The bulk of the Institution’s funding comes from grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation(US) and other government agencies, augmented by foundations and private donations.

    WHOI scientists, engineers, and students collaborate to develop theories, test ideas, build seagoing instruments, and collect data in diverse marine environments. Ships operated by WHOI carry research scientists throughout the world’s oceans. The WHOI fleet includes two large research vessels (R/V Atlantis and R/V Neil Armstrong); the coastal craft Tioga; small research craft such as the dive-operation work boat Echo; the deep-diving human-occupied submersible Alvin; the tethered, remotely operated vehicle Jason/Medea; and autonomous underwater vehicles such as the REMUS and SeaBED.

    WHOI offers graduate and post-doctoral studies in marine science. There are several fellowship and training programs, and graduate degrees are awarded through a joint program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(US). WHOI is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. WHOI also offers public outreach programs and informal education through its Exhibit Center and summer tours. The Institution has a volunteer program and a membership program, WHOI Associate.

    On October 1, 2020, Peter B. de Menocal became the institution’s eleventh president and director.

    History

    In 1927, a National Academy of Sciences(US) committee concluded that it was time to “consider the share of the United States of America in a worldwide program of oceanographic research.” The committee’s recommendation for establishing a permanent independent research laboratory on the East Coast to “prosecute oceanography in all its branches” led to the founding in 1930 of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution(US).

    A $2.5 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation supported the summer work of a dozen scientists, construction of a laboratory building and commissioning of a research vessel, the 142-foot (43 m) ketch R/V Atlantis, whose profile still forms the Institution’s logo.

    WHOI grew substantially to support significant defense-related research during World War II, and later began a steady growth in staff, research fleet, and scientific stature. From 1950 to 1956, the director was Dr. Edward “Iceberg” Smith, an Arctic explorer, oceanographer and retired Coast Guard rear admiral.

    In 1977 the institution appointed the influential oceanographer John Steele as director, and he served until his retirement in 1989.

    On 1 September 1985, a joint French-American expedition led by Jean-Louis Michel of IFREMER and Robert Ballard of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution identified the location of the wreck of the RMS Titanic which sank off the coast of Newfoundland 15 April 1912.

    On 3 April 2011, within a week of resuming of the search operation for Air France Flight 447, a team led by WHOI, operating full ocean depth autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) owned by the Waitt Institute discovered, by means of sidescan sonar, a large portion of debris field from flight AF447.

    In March 2017 the institution effected an open-access policy to make its research publicly accessible online.

    The Institution has maintained a long and controversial business collaboration with the treasure hunter company Odyssey Marine. Likewise, WHOI has participated in the location of the San José galleon in Colombia for the commercial exploitation of the shipwreck by the Government of President Santos and a private company.

    In 2019, iDefense reported that China’s hackers had launched cyberattacks on dozens of academic institutions in an attempt to gain information on technology being developed for the United States Navy. Some of the targets included the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The attacks have been underway since at least April 2017.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:13 pm on April 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "WHOI and ADI Launch Ocean and Climate Innovation Accelerator", , , , , Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution   

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: “WHOI and ADI Launch Ocean and Climate Innovation Accelerator” 

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    April 20, 2021

    1
    Today, WHOI and Analog Devices, Inc. (ADI) launched an Ocean and Climate Innovation Accelerator (OCIA) consortium, focused on the critical role of oceans in combatting climate change, and developing new solutions at the intersection of oceans and climate.

    First-of-its-kind consortium focused on the critical role of oceans in combatting climate change.

    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Analog Devices, Inc. (Nasdaq: ADI) today launched the Ocean and Climate Innovation Accelerator (OCIA) consortium. ADI has committed $3 million over three years towards the consortium which will focus on advancing knowledge of the ocean’s critical role in combatting climate change as well as developing new solutions at the intersection of oceans and climate.

    “Carbon emissions feature as a centerpiece in global efforts to mitigate climate change. Oceans are among our most important defense mechanisms against a warming planet – yet their ability to continue to play this critically important role is being threatened by the effects of climate change,” said Vincent Roche, CEO of Analog Devices. “Through the Ocean and Climate Innovation Accelerator, we are committed to engaging ADI’s engineers and technologies to advance knowledge of the oceans, in order to gain a better understanding of how oceans are impacted by climate change and to develop solutions to restore ocean health. By doing so, we hope to drive meaningful impact on the global fight against climate change.”

    The OCIA consortium is designed to be a highly scalable collaboration leveraging the unique resources and capabilities of its partner organizations. Among its goals, the consortium will focus on the development of the “networked ocean” – placing sensors across oceanographic environments that will continuously monitor critical metrics related to ocean conditions with the aim of informing business and policy decision makers, enabling evidence-based stewardship of ocean health and driving more accurate climate and weather predictions with real-time data.

    “On behalf of WHOI’s entire community of ocean scientists and engineers, we are incredibly excited about this collaboration,” said Dr. Peter de Menocal, president, and director of WHOI. “The formation of the OCIA consortium comes at a time when support for science and ocean research is at a critical juncture. We are building a research innovation ecosystem that will drive new understanding to tackle global challenges facing society. It provides a new, scalable model showing how corporations can engage deeply on the climate crisis.”

    The consortium will be jointly led by WHOI, a world leader in oceanographic research, technology, and education dedicated to understanding the ocean for the benefit of humanity, and ADI, a world leader in the design, manufacturing, and marketing of a broad portfolio of high-performance semiconductor solutions used in virtually all types of electronic equipment. Designed to act as an engine for continuous innovation and powered by some of the world’s leading minds and businesses, the OCIA consortium is open to participation by a wide range of leading organizations across business, academia and non-profits that recognize the inextricable links between ocean and climate and wish to have a positive impact on the global climate crisis.

    The OCIA consortium will also establish a robust, multi-stage innovation ecosystem, building on WHOI’s existing strengths in education and research to drive solutions-thinking and allow scientists and engineers to focus on high-impact problems. This will include the launch of a new Climate Challenge Grant Program which will award seed-funding for smaller, competitively selected projects.

    Initially, the OCIA will provide two types of awards:

    Incubation Awards: comprised of seed-funding awarded to dynamic individuals and teams. Incubation Awards will support design, exploration, and early execution of new, cutting-edge scientific initiatives that foster new avenues of research and engineering and encourage and incentivize collaborative engagement.
    Acceleration Awards: awarded to successful recipients of prior support for novel ideas and technologies, as well as other more mature projects, for the purpose of expanding these programs, increasing public engagement, and positioning and preparing projects to achieve lasting impact and receive durable outside support.

    As the consortium grows over time, OCIA programs may expand to invest in people through the establishment of fellowships and other awards, along with a portfolio of other activities such as support for collaboration hubs to drive innovations in data processing, machine learning, and transdisciplinary science and engineering.

    “Now more than ever, it is essential for people to understand that the ocean and climate are not two separate systems, but rather part of a single system that spans our entire ocean planet and affects the lives of people everywhere, even if they live far from the coast,” said de Menocal. “Recognizing this, it is critical for organizations like ADI and WHOI to find common cause and work in shared-mission partnerships to help mitigate the rapidly advancing threats brought on by a warming planet.”

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

    Vision & Mission

    The ocean is a defining feature of our planet and crucial to life on Earth, yet it remains one of the planet’s last unexplored frontiers. For this reason, WHOI scientists and engineers are committed to understanding all facets of the ocean as well as its complex connections with Earth’s atmosphere, land, ice, seafloor, and life—including humanity. This is essential not only to advance knowledge about our planet, but also to ensure society’s long-term welfare and to help guide human stewardship of the environment. WHOI researchers are also dedicated to training future generations of ocean science leaders, to providing unbiased information that informs public policy and decision-making, and to expanding public awareness about the importance of the global ocean and its resources.

    Mission Statement

    The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is dedicated to advancing knowledge of the ocean and its connection with the Earth system through a sustained commitment to excellence in science, engineering, and education, and to the application of this knowledge to problems facing society.

    The Institution is organized into six departments, the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Ocean Research, and a marine policy center. Its shore-based facilities are located in the village of Woods Hole, Massachusetts(US) and a mile and a half away on the Quissett Campus. The bulk of the Institution’s funding comes from grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation(US) and other government agencies, augmented by foundations and private donations.

    WHOI scientists, engineers, and students collaborate to develop theories, test ideas, build seagoing instruments, and collect data in diverse marine environments. Ships operated by WHOI carry research scientists throughout the world’s oceans. The WHOI fleet includes two large research vessels (R/V Atlantis and R/V Neil Armstrong); the coastal craft Tioga; small research craft such as the dive-operation work boat Echo; the deep-diving human-occupied submersible Alvin; the tethered, remotely operated vehicle Jason/Medea; and autonomous underwater vehicles such as the REMUS and SeaBED.

    WHOI offers graduate and post-doctoral studies in marine science. There are several fellowship and training programs, and graduate degrees are awarded through a joint program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(US). WHOI is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. WHOI also offers public outreach programs and informal education through its Exhibit Center and summer tours. The Institution has a volunteer program and a membership program, WHOI Associate.

    On October 1, 2020, Peter B. de Menocal became the institution’s eleventh president and director.

    History

    In 1927, a National Academy of Sciences(US) committee concluded that it was time to “consider the share of the United States of America in a worldwide program of oceanographic research.” The committee’s recommendation for establishing a permanent independent research laboratory on the East Coast to “prosecute oceanography in all its branches” led to the founding in 1930 of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution(US).

    A $2.5 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation supported the summer work of a dozen scientists, construction of a laboratory building and commissioning of a research vessel, the 142-foot (43 m) ketch R/V Atlantis, whose profile still forms the Institution’s logo.

    WHOI grew substantially to support significant defense-related research during World War II, and later began a steady growth in staff, research fleet, and scientific stature. From 1950 to 1956, the director was Dr. Edward “Iceberg” Smith, an Arctic explorer, oceanographer and retired Coast Guard rear admiral.

    In 1977 the institution appointed the influential oceanographer John Steele as director, and he served until his retirement in 1989.

    On 1 September 1985, a joint French-American expedition led by Jean-Louis Michel of IFREMER and Robert Ballard of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution identified the location of the wreck of the RMS Titanic which sank off the coast of Newfoundland 15 April 1912.

    On 3 April 2011, within a week of resuming of the search operation for Air France Flight 447, a team led by WHOI, operating full ocean depth autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) owned by the Waitt Institute discovered, by means of sidescan sonar, a large portion of debris field from flight AF447.

    In March 2017 the institution effected an open-access policy to make its research publicly accessible online.

    The Institution has maintained a long and controversial business collaboration with the treasure hunter company Odyssey Marine. Likewise, WHOI has participated in the location of the San José galleon in Colombia for the commercial exploitation of the shipwreck by the Government of President Santos and a private company.

    In 2019, iDefense reported that China’s hackers had launched cyberattacks on dozens of academic institutions in an attempt to gain information on technology being developed for the United States Navy. Some of the targets included the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The attacks have been underway since at least April 2017.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:28 pm on March 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Racing an undersea volcano", , , , , Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution   

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution : “Racing an undersea volcano” 

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    March 18, 2021
    Hannah Piecuch

    1
    A 3D rendering of the East Pacific Rise developed with seafloor bathymetry data collected in 2018-2019 by Dan Fornari, WHOI, and collaborators Ross Parnell-Turner and Jyun-Nai Wu, SIO, using the autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Sentry. (Image Credit: Dan Fornari, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution(US))

    This March, WHOI scientist Dan Fornari and a team of collaborators and students are returning to the East Pacific Rise at 9°50’ North to complete a map of an undersea volcano that they believe will erupt within the next five years—if it hasn’t already.

    2
    Credit: Electromagnetic Geophysics Lab, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University(US). In February 2004 we carried out an extensive EM survey across the Northern East Pacific Rise near 9º30′ N. The goals of this experiment were to image the upper mantle and crustal magmatic system associated with plate spreading volcanism at this fast-spreading mid-ocean ridge. Using the R/V Roger Revelle, we collected 69 sites of broadband marine MT data and towed the new Scripps deep-tow EM transmitter SUESI for over 80 km, resulting in the largest marine MT and controlled-source EM data set ever collected at a mid-ocean ridge.

    The East Pacific Rise lies west of Costa Rica and is just one small part of a 60,000-mile-long mid-ocean ridge system—the longest mountain range on the planet. It is also a fast-spreading (~11 cm—just over four inches—per year) volcanic site where oceanic crust is formed.

    “It is one of very few places with consecutive deep-sea eruptions that have occurred on a human timescale that we have been able to observe, map, and sample,” says Fornari.

    The region has experienced two recorded eruptions over the last three decades and supports a hydrothermal vent system teeming with life. Another eruption could help Fornari and other geologists reveal the mechanisms that drive volcanic activity at mid-ocean ridges and show biologists how long it takes for life to return to an area newly covered-over by lava. But to gain this new understanding, scientists need a detailed map of the area before a new eruption changes it dramatically.

    Until recently, such a map did not exist.

    That changed in 2018 and 2019, when Fornari and collaborators Ross Parnell-Turner and Jyun-Nai Wu from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego(US) (SIO) visited the East Pacific and used autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Sentry to produce the most detailed bathymetric map of 9° 50’N ever created. Sentry dove by night, and researchers followed in the human occupied vehicle (HOV) Alvin by day, using just-created Sentry maps to navigate to areas of scientific interest.

    Previous maps of the study area were made using ship-based multibeam sonar and only revealed features in approximately 40-by-40-meter squares. At that resolution, the maps missed a lot of important detail—for example, the axis where an eruption is likely to occur is only 40-to-60-meters wide in some areas. The new Sentry map improves resolution by an order of magnitude, revealing bathymetric and morphological details of the volcanic terrain down to one meter.

    Fornari can read the completed segments of the new map like a history book.

    “You can see lava channels, hydrothermal vents, and lava pillars created during the last eruption, which tell you how far the lava came up before it drained back,” he says. “You can see lava flows that traveled out from the axis, and measure how far they went and the flow fronts they created—at distances of hundreds of meters to nearly three kilometers from the axis.”

    Fornari says the bathymetric map that will be completed this spring could only be produced by a vehicle such as Sentry, which runs autonomously and can travel very close to the bottom.

    “Without that capability, you would not have the resolution to understand the changes in seafloor topography and morphology that result from the next volcanic eruption,” Fornari says.

    Sentry is programmed to follow a track pattern along the seafloor. It maps the terrain using multibeam and sidescan sonar, which discern topography by sending out pulses of sound and measuring how quickly they bounce back. The end product is a map so detailed that at first glance, it looks like an aerial photograph of a mountain ridge.

    An emeritus research scholar at WHOI, Fornari has spent much of his career studying the East Pacific Rise. When Fornari and collaborator Rachel Haymon of University of California Santa Barbara(US) discovered this site in 1989, they mapped it with what was then the best deep submergence technology of the day: WHOI’s ship-towed Argo imaging and sonar system.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

    Vision & Mission

    The ocean is a defining feature of our planet and crucial to life on Earth, yet it remains one of the planet’s last unexplored frontiers. For this reason, WHOI scientists and engineers are committed to understanding all facets of the ocean as well as its complex connections with Earth’s atmosphere, land, ice, seafloor, and life—including humanity. This is essential not only to advance knowledge about our planet, but also to ensure society’s long-term welfare and to help guide human stewardship of the environment. WHOI researchers are also dedicated to training future generations of ocean science leaders, to providing unbiased information that informs public policy and decision-making, and to expanding public awareness about the importance of the global ocean and its resources.

    Mission Statement

    The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is dedicated to advancing knowledge of the ocean and its connection with the Earth system through a sustained commitment to excellence in science, engineering, and education, and to the application of this knowledge to problems facing society.

    The Institution is organized into six departments, the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Ocean Research, and a marine policy center. Its shore-based facilities are located in the village of Woods Hole, Massachusetts(US) and a mile and a half away on the Quissett Campus. The bulk of the Institution’s funding comes from grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation(US) and other government agencies, augmented by foundations and private donations.

    WHOI scientists, engineers, and students collaborate to develop theories, test ideas, build seagoing instruments, and collect data in diverse marine environments. Ships operated by WHOI carry research scientists throughout the world’s oceans. The WHOI fleet includes two large research vessels (R/V Atlantis and R/V Neil Armstrong); the coastal craft Tioga; small research craft such as the dive-operation work boat Echo; the deep-diving human-occupied submersible Alvin; the tethered, remotely operated vehicle Jason/Medea; and autonomous underwater vehicles such as the REMUS and SeaBED.

    WHOI offers graduate and post-doctoral studies in marine science. There are several fellowship and training programs, and graduate degrees are awarded through a joint program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(US). WHOI is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. WHOI also offers public outreach programs and informal education through its Exhibit Center and summer tours. The Institution has a volunteer program and a membership program, WHOI Associate.

    On October 1, 2020, Peter B. de Menocal became the institution’s eleventh president and director.

    History

    In 1927, a National Academy of Sciences(US) committee concluded that it was time to “consider the share of the United States of America in a worldwide program of oceanographic research.” The committee’s recommendation for establishing a permanent independent research laboratory on the East Coast to “prosecute oceanography in all its branches” led to the founding in 1930 of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution(US).

    A $2.5 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation supported the summer work of a dozen scientists, construction of a laboratory building and commissioning of a research vessel, the 142-foot (43 m) ketch R/V Atlantis, whose profile still forms the Institution’s logo.

    WHOI grew substantially to support significant defense-related research during World War II, and later began a steady growth in staff, research fleet, and scientific stature. From 1950 to 1956, the director was Dr. Edward “Iceberg” Smith, an Arctic explorer, oceanographer and retired Coast Guard rear admiral.

    In 1977 the institution appointed the influential oceanographer John Steele as director, and he served until his retirement in 1989.

    On 1 September 1985, a joint French-American expedition led by Jean-Louis Michel of IFREMER and Robert Ballard of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution identified the location of the wreck of the RMS Titanic which sank off the coast of Newfoundland 15 April 1912.

    On 3 April 2011, within a week of resuming of the search operation for Air France Flight 447, a team led by WHOI, operating full ocean depth autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) owned by the Waitt Institute discovered, by means of sidescan sonar, a large portion of debris field from flight AF447.

    In March 2017 the institution effected an open-access policy to make its research publicly accessible online.

    The Institution has maintained a long and controversial business collaboration with the treasure hunter company Odyssey Marine. Likewise, WHOI has participated in the location of the San José galleon in Colombia for the commercial exploitation of the shipwreck by the Government of President Santos and a private company.

    In 2019, iDefense reported that China’s hackers had launched cyberattacks on dozens of academic institutions in an attempt to gain information on technology being developed for the United States Navy. Some of the targets included the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The attacks have been underway since at least April 2017.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:54 pm on March 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Microbial Methane – New Fuel for Ocean Robots?", , , , Methane has a heat-trapping power 25 times greater than CO2. But fortunately very little of it ever leaves the ocean thanks to the expansive communities of marine microbes that eat it., , , Once the methane is in gas form the system combusts the gas to drive an engine and generator., The need for Autonomous Underwater Vehicles to travel over longer distances—and longer time periods—without having to surface to charge up is very real., The new device is being developed by Maritime Applied Physics Corporation(US)(MAPC)., The system could be an answer to power-hungry robots that are being asked to explore increasingly larger swaths of the ocean., Using methane to give ocean robots a power boost may sound like sci-fi but it may be closer than you think., Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution   

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: “Microbial Methane – New Fuel for Ocean Robots?” 

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    3.11.21
    Evan Lubofsky

    1
    A seep of methane bubbles up from the seafloor. Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(US) Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.

    Researchers at WHOI and Harvard University(US) are working on it. They’re collaborating with Maritime Applied Physics Corporation(US)(MAPC) — which is leading the effort with support from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)(US) — on an energy harvesting platform that extracts methane produced by microbes and converts it to electricity. The system could be an answer to power-hungry robots that are being asked to explore increasingly larger swaths of the ocean.

    “Deep sea microbes make tons of methane each year” says WHOI adjunct scientist and Harvard professor Peter Girguis. “So, we’re developing these harvesting systems that can be deployed above methane seeps to see if we can generate electricity from this methane.”

    When it comes to powering AUVs—or other underwater ocean technologies for that matter—methane is an ideal choice given its abundance. It’s also free, and tends to hang around.

    “It’s a crazy stable molecule,” says Girguis. “You can put it in a glass vial, and thousands of years later it will still be methane.”

    2
    WHOI adjunct scientist and Harvard professor Peter Girguis Credit: Harvard University.

    It is, however, a potent greenhouse gas—the Environmental Protection Agency(US) suggests that methane has a heat-trapping power 25 times greater than CO2. But fortunately very little of it ever leaves the ocean thanks to the expansive communities of marine microbes that eat it.

    Using methane to give ocean robots a power boost may sound like sci-fi but it may be closer than you think. A prototype of what the researchers refer to as a ‘seafloor generator’ is being built for testing later this year. It’s roughly the size of a large dorm room fridge, and when deployed, sits above methane seeps bubbling up from the seafloor. As the gas bubbles enter the system, a device recovers the methane through a membrane. The new device is being developed by MAPC, in conjunction with Girguis and WHOI scientist Anna Michel, who has been collaborating with Girguis since 2013.

    “We utilize similar approaches for in situ chemical sensing of methane and carbon dioxide,” says Michel. “We extract gases from seawater and then measure them using infrared spectroscopy or mass spectrometry. These instruments require much less gas than we aim to use here. In my own lab, we’re especially interested in finding ways to power sensors underwater. So, working with WHOI Engineer Jason Kapit, we are investigating ways to scale up our extraction processes.”

    Once the methane is in gas form the system combusts the gas to drive an engine and generator. This is a common approach to converting chemical energy from the gas to electrical energy, but this would be the first time it’s been done on the seafloor for re-charging vehicles and powering sensors.

    “The exhaust gases produced are cooled and recirculated back to the inlet of the generator,” explains Tom Bein, a principal engineer with MAPC. This novel approach, he says, minimizes the power required by the system which maximizes the energy available to recharge AUVs or to power sensor networks.

    3
    The seafloor generator, depicted here, is designed to continuously generate one kilowatt of power from methane seeps—enough power to recharge AUVs on long-endurance missions without having to resurface. Credit: MAPC)

    From Girguis’ perspective, the new system will help address a key question that’s been lingering over the ocean science community for decades: How do we sustain our presence in the deep sea? The need for Autonomous Underwater Vehicles to travel over longer distances—and longer time periods—without having to surface to charge up is very real. Particularly in endurance-sapping applications like geologic surveys, search and rescue missions, and oil spill monitoring.

    Girguis sees value in the “cabled observatories we all clamored for” but says their capabilities are limited to the regions of the seafloor that they can reach. There have been advances in battery technologies, and in low-power instrument design, that have spurred the launch of new high-endurance vehicles. WHOI’s Long Range Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (LRAUVs), for example, are ultramarathoners: they can operate continuously for more than two weeks over a distance of 620 miles (1,000 kilometers).

    But Girguis says that for autonomous vehicles to reach their potential, they will ultimately need underwater charging capabilities. He refers to the concept as a “Supercharger Network”—a network of underwater charging ports that provides rapid charging for an AUV on a mission—ideally in remote and deep locations throughout the global ocean. These networks could also power underwater sensors and other instruments.

    “Today, we have vehicle charging stations that make it possible for us to drive cross-country with an electric car,” says Girguis. “If I had my druthers, we’d have a supercharger highway beneath the surface that helps keep AUVs going as far as they need to.”

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

    Vision & Mission

    The ocean is a defining feature of our planet and crucial to life on Earth, yet it remains one of the planet’s last unexplored frontiers. For this reason, WHOI scientists and engineers are committed to understanding all facets of the ocean as well as its complex connections with Earth’s atmosphere, land, ice, seafloor, and life—including humanity. This is essential not only to advance knowledge about our planet, but also to ensure society’s long-term welfare and to help guide human stewardship of the environment. WHOI researchers are also dedicated to training future generations of ocean science leaders, to providing unbiased information that informs public policy and decision-making, and to expanding public awareness about the importance of the global ocean and its resources.

    Mission Statement

    The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is dedicated to advancing knowledge of the ocean and its connection with the Earth system through a sustained commitment to excellence in science, engineering, and education, and to the application of this knowledge to problems facing society.

    The Institution is organized into six departments, the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Ocean Research, and a marine policy center. Its shore-based facilities are located in the village of Woods Hole, Massachusetts(US) and a mile and a half away on the Quissett Campus. The bulk of the Institution’s funding comes from grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation(US) and other government agencies, augmented by foundations and private donations.

    WHOI scientists, engineers, and students collaborate to develop theories, test ideas, build seagoing instruments, and collect data in diverse marine environments. Ships operated by WHOI carry research scientists throughout the world’s oceans. The WHOI fleet includes two large research vessels (R/V Atlantis and R/V Neil Armstrong); the coastal craft Tioga; small research craft such as the dive-operation work boat Echo; the deep-diving human-occupied submersible Alvin; the tethered, remotely operated vehicle Jason/Medea; and autonomous underwater vehicles such as the REMUS and SeaBED.

    WHOI offers graduate and post-doctoral studies in marine science. There are several fellowship and training programs, and graduate degrees are awarded through a joint program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(US). WHOI is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. WHOI also offers public outreach programs and informal education through its Exhibit Center and summer tours. The Institution has a volunteer program and a membership program, WHOI Associate.

    On October 1, 2020, Peter B. de Menocal became the institution’s eleventh president and director.

    History

    In 1927, a National Academy of Sciences(US) committee concluded that it was time to “consider the share of the United States of America in a worldwide program of oceanographic research.” The committee’s recommendation for establishing a permanent independent research laboratory on the East Coast to “prosecute oceanography in all its branches” led to the founding in 1930 of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution(US).

    A $2.5 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation supported the summer work of a dozen scientists, construction of a laboratory building and commissioning of a research vessel, the 142-foot (43 m) ketch R/V Atlantis, whose profile still forms the Institution’s logo.

    WHOI grew substantially to support significant defense-related research during World War II, and later began a steady growth in staff, research fleet, and scientific stature. From 1950 to 1956, the director was Dr. Edward “Iceberg” Smith, an Arctic explorer, oceanographer and retired Coast Guard rear admiral.

    In 1977 the institution appointed the influential oceanographer John Steele as director, and he served until his retirement in 1989.

    On 1 September 1985, a joint French-American expedition led by Jean-Louis Michel of IFREMER and Robert Ballard of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution identified the location of the wreck of the RMS Titanic which sank off the coast of Newfoundland 15 April 1912.

    On 3 April 2011, within a week of resuming of the search operation for Air France Flight 447, a team led by WHOI, operating full ocean depth autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) owned by the Waitt Institute discovered, by means of sidescan sonar, a large portion of debris field from flight AF447.

    In March 2017 the institution effected an open-access policy to make its research publicly accessible online.

    The Institution has maintained a long and controversial business collaboration with the treasure hunter company Odyssey Marine. Likewise, WHOI has participated in the location of the San José galleon in Colombia for the commercial exploitation of the shipwreck by the Government of President Santos and a private company.

    In 2019, iDefense reported that China’s hackers had launched cyberattacks on dozens of academic institutions in an attempt to gain information on technology being developed for the United States Navy. Some of the targets included the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The attacks have been underway since at least April 2017.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:26 pm on February 17, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New observation network will provide unprecedented long-term view of life in the ocean twilight zone", Also collaborating on the project is the University of Rhode Island., An ocean network from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution will give scientists a comprehensive view of the twilight or mesopelagic zone., , Encompassing 250000 square kilometers of the northwest Atlantic Ocean the network will collect around-the-clock data about the twilight zone over months or even years., The ocean network will use several different technologies including moored buoys equipped with acoustic survey systems; a swarm of optical and geochemical sensors; and new fish-tracking tags., The ocean twilight zone contains the largest amount of fish biomass on Earth-yet it remains largely unexplored by scientists., Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution   

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: “New observation network will provide unprecedented long-term view of life in the ocean twilight zone” 

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    February 8, 2021

    1
    An ocean network from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution will give scientists a comprehensive view of the twilight zone, or mesopelagic, using several different technologies including moored buoys equipped with acoustic survey systems; a swarm of optical and geochemical sensors; and new fish-tracking tags that will continuously record the position of major predators such as sharks and tuna. All of these components will connect to the network’s buoys using acoustic signals underwater and an Iridium satellite link at the surface.

    The ocean twilight zone, a dimly lit region roughly 200–1000 meters (650–3200 feet) below the surface, contains the largest amount of fish biomass on Earth—yet it remains largely unexplored by scientists. A new observation network under development by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) seeks to change that. Encompassing 250,000 square kilometers (roughly 155,300 square miles) of the northwest Atlantic Ocean, the network will collect around-the-clock data about the twilight zone over months or even years, offering unprecedented insight into this little-known, yet vitally important region of the sea.

    “It will cover a really huge piece of the ocean,” says WHOI ocean ecologist Simon Thorrold, a Principal Investigator for the network. “We’re used to going out for several weeks on a research vessel to study just a small area, and returning there maybe once or twice a year if we’re lucky,” Thorrold says. “Now, we’ll be able to get continuous measurements from a large chunk of the ocean twilight zone over significant periods of time. It’s very exciting.”

    The network will give scientists a comprehensive view of the twilight zone, or mesopelagic, using several different technologies including moored buoys equipped with acoustic survey systems; a swarm of optical and geochemical sensors; and new fish-tracking tags that will continuously record the position of major predators such as sharks and tuna. All of these components will connect to the network’s buoys using acoustic signals underwater and an Iridium satellite link at the surface.

    The information provided by the network will improve estimates of the density and distribution of fish and invertebrates in the twilight zone, reveal new insights about their interactions and daily migrations to and from the surface—and help fuel new strategies for conservation and policy making. The network will also help researchers better understand how the twilight zone affects carbon cycling and global climate, says WHOI marine radiochemist Ken Buesseler.

    “Plankton—tiny plant-like organisms—at the surface remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow,” Buesseler says. “When animals from the twilight zone migrate up to feed on those plankton and then return back to deeper waters, they take that carbon with them. The question is, how much does that natural cycle of life and death affect the amount of carbon that is sequestered in the deep ocean? And if humans start removing large numbers of fish from the twilight zone, how could that change?”

    Buesseler compares the new observation network to a “field of dreams.”

    “You build something like it, and all kinds of researchers will come and use it, because they’ve just never had the opportunity or infrastructure in place for them to be able to do these sorts of observations,” Buesseler says.

    Also collaborating on the project are WHOI scientists Andone Lavery and Dana Yoerger, and Melissa Omond from the University of Rhode Island.

    Former WHOI President and Director Mark Abbott says it would be challenging to fund this kind of multidisciplinary, large-scale, long-term marine infrastructure through federal sources. Abbott was instrumental in planning the observation network during his tenure. Instead of going through traditional funding channels, he turned to German philanthropist Otto Happel, whose interest in WHOI’s work in the ocean twilight zone led to a generous gift from the Happel Foundation.

    “I think what’s really exciting about Otto is his deep appreciation and understanding and curiosity about the science, the engineering, and how this informs ocean policy,” Abbott says. “He’s concerned about all the changes we’re seeing in the marine environment, and he wants to fund work that enables people to make better decisions about the ocean.”

    The Happel Foundation’s support will enable WHOI’s ocean twilight zone research team to turn their plans for an observation network into a reality. Work is already underway on sensors and other network components.

    “The ocean always has been my passion, in many respects,” Happel says. “I’m thrilled that with a relatively small amount of funding, we can start to answer questions about it that may be vital to changing how we operate and how we live in this world.”

    The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate an understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. WHOI’s pioneering discoveries stem from an ideal combination of science and engineering—one that has made it one of the most trusted and technically advanced leaders in basic and applied ocean research and exploration anywhere. WHOI is known for its multidisciplinary approach, superior ship operations, and unparalleled deep-sea robotics capabilities. We play a leading role in ocean observation, and operate the most extensive suite of data-gathering platforms in the world. Top scientists, engineers, and students collaborate on more than 800 concurrent projects worldwide—both above and below the waves—pushing the boundaries of knowledge and possibility. For more information, please visit http://www.whoi.edu

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

    Vision & Mission

    The ocean is a defining feature of our planet and crucial to life on Earth, yet it remains one of the planet’s last unexplored frontiers. For this reason, WHOI scientists and engineers are committed to understanding all facets of the ocean as well as its complex connections with Earth’s atmosphere, land, ice, seafloor, and life—including humanity. This is essential not only to advance knowledge about our planet, but also to ensure society’s long-term welfare and to help guide human stewardship of the environment. WHOI researchers are also dedicated to training future generations of ocean science leaders, to providing unbiased information that informs public policy and decision-making, and to expanding public awareness about the importance of the global ocean and its resources.
    Mission Statement

    The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is dedicated to advancing knowledge of the ocean and its connection with the Earth system through a sustained commitment to excellence in science, engineering, and education, and to the application of this knowledge to problems facing society.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:21 pm on January 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Why is it so important to understand life in the ocean twilight zone?", How does life in the twilight zone affect global climate?, How does life survive in this extreme environment?, How is the twilight zone connected to the surface ocean?, How much life is in the ocean twilight zone?, Is the twilight zone a major source of food for humans?, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution   

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: “Why is it so important to understand life in the ocean twilight zone?” 

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    1.4.21

    How much life is in the ocean twilight zone?

    The twilight zone is home to more fish than the rest of the ocean combined. Most of these fish—and other organisms that live in the zone—are tiny, measuring just a few inches long or less. But some, like gelatinous siphonophores, can form chains that extend as much as 130 feet, making them among the biggest animals on Earth. Even the smallest twilight zone inhabitants can be powerful through sheer number, however. A tiny but fierce-looking fish called a bristlemouth is the most abundant vertebrate on the planet—for every one human, there are more than 100,000 bristlemouths.

    How does life survive in this extreme environment?

    The twilight zone’s inhabitants are the stuff of fantasy or science fiction. They range from whimsical to terrifying, and are all uniquely suited to life in the cold, deep darkness, where temperatures remain near-freezing and water pressure can reach 1,500 pounds per square inch. Whether they’re microbes, plankton, jellies, or fish, everything living in the zone has evolved incredible adaptations that let them survive under harsh conditions. Many animals, for example, can produce their own light—a trait called bioluminescence—that they use to camouflage themselves, to scare off predators, or even to attract prey.

    1
    Closeup of long chain of Salp zooids. Credit: Larry Madin, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

    2
    Bristlemouth. The most abundant fish species in the ocean twilight zone. Credit: Paul Caiger, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

    3
    The Gulper eel, (Eurypharynx-pelicanoides). Credit: Paul Caiger, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

    See the full article for many more images.

    How does life in the twilight zone affect global climate?

    By migrating to and from the surface, eating, being eaten, dying—and even by pooping—organisms in the twilight zone transport huge amounts of carbon from surface waters into the deep ocean. That process, called the biological pump, plays an important role in regulating Earth’s climate. In sunlit surface waters, tiny plantlike organisms called phytoplankton use energy from the sun to transform carbon dioxide into the food that allows them to grow. Those phytoplankton are eaten by tiny animals called zooplankton, which in turn are eaten by jellies, fish, and other animals—some of which carry that carbon into the twilight zone as part of their daily migration.

    Clumps of dead plankton, shells, fecal pellets, bacteria, and other carbon-rich particles also provide food for twilight zone animals. About 90 percent of that is eaten, but a small portion (about 200 million tons of carbon per year) sinks down deeper, and can remain locked away on the seafloor for millenia. In the process, it keeps heat-trapping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

    Is the twilight zone a major source of food for humans?

    Humans are unlikely to eat anything caught from the twilight zone—the animals there are mostly small, bony fish and gelatinous organisms. However, some governments and corporations are planning to harvest animals from the twilight zone to provide fish meal for aquaculture operations. These in turn can produce seafood for humans. Worldwide, aquaculture is expected to grow 37% by 2030 to help meet the protein demand of a growing human population and reduce pressure on fisheries that are increasingly over-fished.

    How is the twilight zone connected to the surface ocean?

    Perhaps most remarkable, many twilight zone organisms participate in the largest migration on Earth. It happens around the globe, every day, sweeping across the world’s oceans in a massive, living wave. Every night, fish, squid, plankton, and other mid-ocean dwellers begin their journey up to surface waters to feed. By daybreak, they will be gone again, headed back to the relative safety of deeper, darker waters. Large, surface-dwelling predators such as sharks, swordfish, and whales routinely make the reverse trip, diving into the twilight zone to feed on the abundant life there.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

    Vision & Mission

    The ocean is a defining feature of our planet and crucial to life on Earth, yet it remains one of the planet’s last unexplored frontiers. For this reason, WHOI scientists and engineers are committed to understanding all facets of the ocean as well as its complex connections with Earth’s atmosphere, land, ice, seafloor, and life—including humanity. This is essential not only to advance knowledge about our planet, but also to ensure society’s long-term welfare and to help guide human stewardship of the environment. WHOI researchers are also dedicated to training future generations of ocean science leaders, to providing unbiased information that informs public policy and decision-making, and to expanding public awareness about the importance of the global ocean and its resources.
    Mission Statement

    The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is dedicated to advancing knowledge of the ocean and its connection with the Earth system through a sustained commitment to excellence in science, engineering, and education, and to the application of this knowledge to problems facing society.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:55 pm on December 31, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Scientists call for decade of concerted effort to improve understanding of the deep ocean", , , , Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution   

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: “Scientists call for decade of concerted effort to improve understanding of the deep ocean” 

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    November 25, 2020 [Today in social media.]

    1
    Credit: Jason Sylvan, Texas A&M Univ./NSF/HOV Alvin/2019/© Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

    The deep ocean—vast expanses of water and seafloor more than 200 meters (660 feet) below the surface—are globally recognized as an important frontier of exploration and research.

    Despite the fact they account for nearly two-thirds of Earth’s surface area, however, very little is known about them, the ecosystems and life they support, and their impact on the health of the entire planet.

    Now an international team of scientists representing 45 institutions, including the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), and spanning 6 continents and 17 nations has called for a dedicated, decade-long program of research to greatly advance knowledge about these remote and, in many cases, entirely unexplored regions.

    Scientists have named this initiative Challenger 150 to mark the 150th anniversary of the Challenger Expedition, the first modern oceanographic expedition that departed from Plymouth, U.K., in 1872. A century and a half later, the new program is timed to coincide with the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development that runs from 2021-2030.

    Among its key aims would be to build greater capacity and diversity within the ocean science community, especially in light of the fact that existing deep-sea research is conducted primarily by scientists and institutions from developed nations.

    It would also generate greater physical, biogeochemical, and biological data through the application of new and existing technology, and use those data to advance understanding of how changes in the deep seas impact the wider oceans and the rest of the planet.

    The program would also look to use this new knowledge to support regional, national, and international decision-making on issues such as deep-sea mining, fishing, and conservation.

    The rationale behind the call for action is presented in two articles being published simultaneously in top-tier research journals: a comment article in Nature Ecology and Evolution and a full blueprint of the program in Frontiers in Marine Science.

    Led by Kerry Howell, Professor of Deep-Sea Ecology at the University of Plymouth (UK) and Ana Hilario, Researcher at the University of Aveiro (Portugal), the authors include female and male scientists from both developed and developing nations on six of the world’s seven continents.

    “The deep ocean represents one of the last unexplored and untapped frontiers on Earth,” said WHOI Senior Scientist Chris German, who has been helping to shape the program since 2018. “Our deep oceans represent the largest habitat for life on Earth, but also remains the least understood. To sustainability manage this important food and mineral resource, we need to massively expand our ability to explore and understand. Just like the original Challenger Expedition in its day, this effort will demand new innovation and implementation of previously only dreamed-of tools. Pushing the limits of our technology to expand our knowledge of the planet will not only make us better stewards of our home planet, it will also set the stage for us to reach out, in future, and search for life beyond Earth in the newly discovered depths of other ocean worlds.”

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

    Vision & Mission

    The ocean is a defining feature of our planet and crucial to life on Earth, yet it remains one of the planet’s last unexplored frontiers. For this reason, WHOI scientists and engineers are committed to understanding all facets of the ocean as well as its complex connections with Earth’s atmosphere, land, ice, seafloor, and life—including humanity. This is essential not only to advance knowledge about our planet, but also to ensure society’s long-term welfare and to help guide human stewardship of the environment. WHOI researchers are also dedicated to training future generations of ocean science leaders, to providing unbiased information that informs public policy and decision-making, and to expanding public awareness about the importance of the global ocean and its resources.
    Mission Statement

    The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is dedicated to advancing knowledge of the ocean and its connection with the Earth system through a sustained commitment to excellence in science, engineering, and education, and to the application of this knowledge to problems facing society.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:02 am on December 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "MIT oceanographers have an explanation for the Arctic’s puzzling ocean turbulence", , , Eddies are often seen as the weather of the ocean., , Modeling the physics of the ocean, New study suggests waters will become more turbulent as Arctic loses summertime ice., , Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution   

    From MIT News: “MIT oceanographers have an explanation for the Arctic’s puzzling ocean turbulence” 

    MIT News

    From MIT News

    December 15, 2020
    Jennifer Chu

    1
    MIT oceanographers have proposed an explanation for the Arctic’s puzzling ocean turbulence.

    New study suggests waters will become more turbulent as Arctic loses summertime ice.

    Eddies are often seen as the weather of the ocean. Like large-scale circulations in the atmosphere, eddies swirl through the ocean as slow-moving sea cyclones, sweeping up nutrients and heat, and transporting them around the world.

    In most oceans, eddies are observed at every depth and are stronger at the surface. But since the 1970s, researchers have observed a peculiar pattern in the Arctic: In the summer, Arctic eddies resemble their counterparts in other oceans, popping up throughout the water column. However, with the return of winter ice, Arctic waters go quiet, and eddies are nowhere to be found in the first 50 meters beneath the ice. Meanwhile, deeper layers continue to stir up eddies, unaffected by the abrupt change in shallower waters.

    This seasonal turn in Arctic eddy activity has puzzled scientists for decades. Now an MIT team has an explanation. In a paper published today in the Journal of Physical Oceanography, the researchers show that the main ingredients for driving eddy behavior in the Arctic are ice friction and ocean stratification.

    By modeling the physics of the ocean, they found that wintertime ice acts as a frictional brake, slowing surface waters and preventing them from speeding into turbulent eddies. This effect only goes so deep; between 50 and 300 meters deep, the researchers found, the ocean’s salty, denser layers act to insulate water from frictional effects, allowing eddies to swirl year-round.

    The results highlight a new connection between eddy activity, Arctic ice, and ocean stratification, that can now be factored into climate models to produce more accurate predictions of Arctic evolution with climate change.

    “As the Arctic warms up, this dissipation mechanism for eddies, i.e. the presence of ice, will go away, because the ice won’t be there in summer and will be more mobile in the winter,” says John Marshall, professor of oceanography at MIT. “So what we expect to see moving into the future is an Arctic that is much more vigorously unstable, and that has implications for the large-scale dynamics of the Arctic system.”

    Marshall’s co-authors on the paper include lead author Gianluca Meneghello, a research scientist in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, along with Camille Lique, Pal Erik Isachsen, Edward Doddridge, Jean-Michel Campin, Healther Regan, and Claude Talandier.

    Beneath the surface

    For their study, the researchers assembled data on Arctic ocean activity that were made available by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The data were collected between 2003 and 2018, from sensors measuring the velocity of the water at different depths throughout the water column.

    The team averaged the data to produce a time series to produce a typical year of the Arctic Ocean’s velocities with depth. From these observations, a clear seasonal trend emerged: During the summer months with very little ice cover, they saw high velocities and more eddy activity at all depths of the ocean. In the winter, as ice grew and increased in thickness, shallow waters ground to a halt, and eddies disappeared, whereas deeper waters continued to show high-velocity activity.

    “In most of the ocean, these eddies extend all the way to the surface,” Marshall says. “But in the Arctic winter, we find that eddies are kind of living beneath the surface, like submarines hanging out at depth, and they don’t get all the way up to the surface.”

    To see what might be causing this curious seasonal change in eddy activity, the researchers carried out a “baroclinic instability analysis.” This model uses a set of equations describing the physics of the ocean, and determines how instabilities, such as weather systems in the atmosphere and eddies in the ocean, evolve under given conditions.

    An icy rub

    The researchers plugged various conditions into the model, and for each condition they introduced small perturbations similar to ripples from surface winds or a passing boat, at various ocean depths. They then ran the model forward to see whether the perturbations would evolve into larger, faster eddies.

    The researchers found that when they plugged in both the frictional effect of sea ice and the effect of stratification, as in the varying density layers of the Arctic waters, the model produced water velocities that matched what the researchers initially saw in actual observations. That is, they saw that without friction from ice, eddies formed freely at all ocean depths. With increasing friction and ice thickness, waters slowed and eddies disappeared in the ocean’s first 50 meters. Below this boundary, where the water’s density, i.e. its stratification, changes dramatically, eddies continued to swirl.

    When they plugged in other initial conditions, such as a stratification that was less representative of the real Arctic ocean, the model’s results were a weaker match with observations.

    “We’re the first to put forward a simple explanation for what we’re seeing, which is that subsurface eddies remain vigorous all year round, and surface eddies, as soon as ice is around, get rubbed out because of frictional effects,” Marshall explains.

    Now that they have confirmed that ice friction and stratification have an effect on Arctic eddies, the researchers speculate that this relationship will have a large impact on shaping the Arctic in the next few decades. There have been other studies showing that summertime Arctic ice, already receding faster year by year, will completely disappear by the year 2050. With less ice, waters will be free to swirl up into eddies, at the surface and at depth. Increased eddy activity in the summer could bring in heat from other parts of the world, further warming the Arctic.

    At the same time, the wintertime Arctic will be ice covered for the foreseeable future, notes Meneghello. Whether a warming Arctic will result in more ocean turbulence throughout the year or in a stronger variability over the seasons will depend on sea ice’s strength.

    Regardless, “if we move into a world where there is no ice at all in the summer and weaker ice during winter, the eddy activity will increase,” Meneghello says. “That has important implications for things moving around in the water, like tracers and nutrients and heat, and feedback on the ice itself.”

    This research is supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    MIT Seal

    The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the twenty-first century. We seek to develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

    USPS “Forever” postage stamps celebrating Innovation at MIT.

    MIT Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 6:15 pm on November 11, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Could listening to the deep sea help save it?", , , , WHOI scientists have developed an “acoustic telescope” to “see” into a noisy ocean and pick out unique sounds produced by distant acoustic phenomena., Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution   

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: “Could listening to the deep sea help save it?” 

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    A recent The New York Times article about sound in the deep ocean briefly mentions the work by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) acoustic scientist Ying-Tsong “YT” Lin and his work developing an “acoustic telescope.”

    ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    From The New York Times

    Nov. 10, 2020
    Sabrina Imbler

    1
    Tube worms cover a sulfide chimney deep underwater in the Pacific Ocean. Credit: NOAA.

    You might know what a hydrothermal vent looks like: black plumes billowing from deep-sea pillars encrusted with hobnobbing tubeworms, hairy crabs, pouting fish. But do you know what a hydrothermal vent sounds like?

    To the untrained ear, a hydrothermal vent — or more precisely, one vent from the Suiyo Seamount southeast of Japan — generates a viscous, muffled burbling that recalls an ominous pool of magma or a simmering pot of soup.

    To the trained ear, the Suiyo vent sounds like many things. When asked during a Zoom call to describe the Suiyo recording more scientifically, Tzu-Hao Lin, a research fellow at the Biodiversity Research Center at Academia Sinica in Taipei, Taiwan, took a long pause, shrugged, and laughed. People always ask him this, but he never has the answer they want to hear. “I usually tell people to describe it with their own language,” Dr. Lin said. “You don’t need to be an expert to say what it sounds like to you.”

    Dr. Lin adores acoustics; in his official academic headshot, he wears a set of headphones. He has listened to the sea since 2008, and to the deep sea since 2018. He has deployed hydrophones, which are microphones designed for underwater use, in waters off Japan to eavesdrop on the noises that lurk thousands of feet below the surface. He published these recordings in August at a conference of the Deep-Sea Biology Society.

    Dr. Lin is not interested in focusing on the song of a singular whale or the clatter of ship traffic, but rather on the habitat’s soundscape — the totality of all its sounds, human, animal and geological — to glean an area’s biodiversity. Think of it as a hydrothermal vent’s acoustical calling card.

    Dr. Lin joins a growing field of acousticians who believe that sound may be the quickest, cheapest way to monitor one of the most mysterious realms of the ocean. A database of deep-sea soundscapes could provide researchers with baseline understanding of healthy remote ecosystems, and singling out the sounds of communities or even individual species can inform scientists when populations are booming.

    “You need to know what the habitat sounds like when it’s healthy,” said Chong Chen, a deep-sea biologist at Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, or JAMSTEC. “When the soundscape has changed, the habitat may have changed, too.”

    The allure of deep-sea sound

    3
    Vents at the bottom of the Suiyo Seamount southeast of Japan. Credit: JAMSTEC.

    Light holds little power in the ocean; it is so easily absorbed and scattered by seawater that anything deeper than 656 feet is essentially shrouded in darkness. But sound reigns supreme underwater, where it travels five times faster than in air.

    If this statistic seems abstract, several acousticians laid out a helpful scenario in a 2018 paper in Acoustics Today. Imagine staring down at a city on a clear day from atop a mountain, the highest point within 60 miles. You can see far into the horizon but only hear the sounds nearby, perhaps a chirping bird or a gust of wind.

    In the deep sea, the rules are reversed. Standing on a ridge several thousand feet underwater, peering out to the ocean’s abyssal plain, you would see almost nothing. But if you listened through a hydrophone, you could detect sounds from hundreds of miles away: echolocating whales, chattering fish, even the occasional energy pulse from seismic surveys for oil and gas.

    Scientists have long listened in on the sounds of the oceans, but only recently have they turned to the deepest, darkest parts of the sea, where sound holds promise as a portal into an unknown world. Here, specialized creatures occupy habitats that would be fatal to surface-dwellers; when Dr. Lin’s colleagues retrieved the hydrophone from Suiyo, the vent’s heat had melted part of the cables. “We got too close to the orifice,” Dr. Lin said with a sigh.

    The deep sea is difficult to visit and expensive to observe; underwater robots do not come cheap. But it’s fairly easy to drop a hydrophone overboard — along with a baited camera, to see if anything bites. The hydrophone can pick up not just the noisy clicks of bickering dolphins but also the ambient hum of the deep-sea.

    Snooping on soundscapes

    6
    The submersible DSV Shinkai 6500, being lowered into the ocean during a cruise to observe the Suiyo Seamount. Credit: Chong Chen/JAMSTEC.

    Dr. Lin became interested in underwater acoustics around a decade ago as a graduate student at National Taiwan University, on a project observing Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins. Although the project seemed exciting, he found the work anticlimactic, working long hours and seeing very few dolphins. But as Dr. Lin listened to the recordings, he heard a chorus of other creatures — the sounds of snapping shrimp and choruses of fish — as well as noise pollution from industrial development. “People are still really crazy about marine mammals,” he said. “They do not really care about soniferous fish or invertebrates.”

    When he joined JAMSTEC in the spring of 2019 for a yearlong stint as a postdoctoral research fellow, he was surprised by the remarkable diversity of deep-sea life, and even more surprised that few people had tried to capture the sounds of deeper-living creatures and their often volatile, volcanic habitats. The work felt even more pressing as international interest in deep-sea mining continued to rise. In 2019, he proposed the use of deep-sea soundscapes as a conservation tool in a paper in Trends in Ecology & Evolution.

    Research cruises are expensive, and Dr. Lin did not have time to develop a dedicated cruise for deep-sea soundscapes. So he and other researchers at JAMSTEC dropped hydrophones on already scheduled cruises, collecting daylong recordings from coastal areas near Japan and the Suiyo vent, and an even deeper recording from more than 18,000 feet below waters by the isosceles-shaped island of Minami-Tori. He found that the shipping traffic drowned out the coastal soundscapes, but the Minami-Tori Shima recording picked up noise from dolphins, humans and the tectonic grumblings of the seafloor itself, as well as a potpourri of as-yet untraceable sounds.

    Dr. Lin’s recordings reveal a medley of shrill beeps, distant whistles and an underwater chorus of fish that sounds almost like wind gusting through a mountain pass. But what is it all? Dr. Lin and his lab at Academia Sinica are developing a software algorithm to separate the elements of the soundscape into categories: biophony (creatures), geophony (weather, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions) and anthropophony (pesky or insidious human noises, like seismic tests, ships and mining). Then the program will isolate individual sounds, such as dolphin whistles or chattering fish, and could even discover the sounds of new species.

    Although the researchers are still poring through the data — recordings wrapped up in March — some soundscapes have already provided insight into life in the deep sea. The Minami-Tori Shima recording revealed a chorus of fish that began right after sunset and ended after midnight at depths with no visible light. “It’s really amazing,” Dr. Lin said. He suspects the chorus may be timed with some fish’s daily vertical migration toward the surface at night, although he said he would need to conduct more surveys to confirm this connection.

    Deep-sea detective work

    7
    Benthocometes robustus, a type of cusk-eel. Credit: Paulo Oliveira/Alamy.

    Whereas the clicks and songs of marine mammals are well-documented, the identities of smaller deep-sea noisemakers are still shrouded in the dark.

    At face value, deep-sea fish would not appear to be the most competent vocalists. “Many fish sounds require hard parts like bone or dense muscles,” said Rodney Rountree, an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria who specializes in fish acoustics.

    But some fish, such as the sailfin catfish, make sounds by rubbing their body parts together like crickets. Then their air-filled swim bladders act like a drum to amplify the sound. This movement can create sounds most often described as rasps, creaks or grunts — but these terms vary. “It’s a big headache,” Dr. Rountree said. “Even in the same study, I might call one thing a groan, and when I process it the next day I may call it a grunt.”

    Other fish, such as cusk-eels, have dedicated sonic muscles that push on these bladders to bang like a drum or croak like a frog. “It’s really loud, like a jackhammer,” he said, pausing and clearing his throat before demonstrating: “AH-AH-AH-AH-AH.” (If this reenactment is unclear, Dr. Rountree recorded this cusk-eel’s mating call.) But many more gelatinous deep-sea species are bereft of such bladders, as well as the musculature needed to press against them. A blobfish, after all, is more water than muscle.

    Researchers have observed sonic muscles or have recorded sounds from five families of deep-sea fish, including grenadiers and sablefish, according to Marta Bolgan, a marine biologist at the University of Liege in Belgium. “It is a very new field,” she said. Dr. Bolgan recently published a paper in the journal Fish and Fisheries highlighting the importance of listening to deep-sea fish.

    8
    A Western softhead grenadier. Credit: Paulo Oliveira/Alamy.

    Some researchers are working to improve current listening technology. At the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Mass., Ying-Tsong Lin is building a starfish-shaped contraption of hydrophones that can tune into certain sounds hundreds of miles away, like a telescope for sound.

    9
    To probe the ocean’s opaque interior, sound is one of the most efficient tools available. WHOI scientists have developed an “acoustic telescope” to “see” into a noisy ocean and pick out unique sounds produced by distant acoustic phenomena, such as whale calls and fish schooling, as well as the rumble of earthquakes, volcanoes, and storms. Credit: Natalie Renier, WHOI Creative.

    Dr. Bolgan’s strategy involves attaching video cameras to recorders to capture fish vocalizing onscreen. But even this is no sure thing. A video that captures a fish and a fish-sound in the same frame still doesn’t prove that fish made that sound. Researchers have to sleuth out whether that fish could physically make that sound, either by listening to existing recordings or speculating how the fish’s sonic muscles might produce noise. “It is a combination of deduction and luck,” Dr. Bolgan said.

    Even unidentified fish sounds can provide insight into biodiversity. “If we cannot identify different types of signals, maybe we can estimate the abundance and distribution of animals on the deep-sea floor,” Dr. Lin of Academia Sinica said.

    In an ideal world, researchers would be able to catch deep-sea fish and listen to them on land. But benthic dwellers are difficult to haul up to the surface alive, let alone chipper. “You have to keep them happy and healthy to make sounds,” Dr. Rountree said.

    Fish often make sounds alongside particular behaviors, such as spawning, which can be difficult to replicate in a lab, although some researchers have succeeded. In 2016, Eric Parmentier, Dr. Bolgan’s supervisor at the University of Liege, recorded cusk-eels growling in fiberglass tanks after sunset. Floating egg masses the following morning indicated the fish had spawned.

    Fishes may represent researchers’ best bet at parsing deep-sea biodiversity, as many key deep-sea animals are not known to make sound, according to Dr. Chen. “Snails don’t vocalize,” he added as an example. There are exceptions. In 2019, researchers recorded remarkably loud snapping sounds from small, mouth-fighting marine worms that dwell in glass sponges. And a 2017 study revealed that glass sponge reefs possess a distinct soundscape entirely their own.

    Most of the ocean is visually inaccessible to humans. Seawater absorbs and scatters visible light, making anything below the sunlit surface appear dark and murky. The ocean is also impenetrable to many communication and geolocation technologies, such as radio waves, GPS, and other forms of electromagnetic radiation.

    For scientists wishing to probe the ocean’s opaque interior, sound is one of the most efficient tools available. Sound travels effectively through seawater—a feature known to marine mammals, which have evolved to use sound to communicate, find food, and navigate underwater. Oceanographers have also taken advantage of sound’s ability to propagate through seawater, using underwater acoustic technologies to greatly advance our understanding of the ocean and marine ecosystems.

    But using sound to “see” into a noisy ocean has its challenges, and it can be difficult to distinguish individual acoustic signatures amidst the cacophony of the underwater soundscape. To overcome this challenge, WHOI scientist Ying-Tsong (YT) Lin and a team of engineers are building the first-ever 3D underwater “acoustic telescope.” Analogous to an optical telescope focusing on distant objects in space, this 30-foot diameter, six-armed, star-shaped array of hydrophones will be capable of tuning in to acoustic sources tens to hundreds or even thousands of miles away, isolating them from other background sounds. The instrument will also be equipped with a satellite communication system for real-time data transmission from the telescope back to scientists on a ship or in a lab on shore.

    A sonic library

    9
    The remote operated vehicle Deep Discoverer observed a vent on top of a mound of pillow lava at the bottom of the sea. Deep-living creatures often live in volatile, volcanic habitats. Credit: NOAA.

    Dr. Lin wants to make all his soundscapes available online for anyone to use. This way, researchers such as Dr. Bolgan can sort through the recordings to single out a particular fish chorus, or any other particular sound.

    “Once the data is digitized, it can be used over and over again,” Dr. Lin said, his voice catching with excitement. “Future generations will be able to see what biodiversity was like decades ago.” He uploaded all his recent recordings to SoundCloud, and invites any would-be acousticians to listen in.

    Dr. Lin’s eventual goal, the Ocean Biodiversity Listening Project, is an international, open-access database of underwater recordings that can establish a baseline of healthy, deep-sea ecosystems. He knows he’s working against the clock. “Deep-sea mining is about to start anytime now,” Dr. Chen said.

    In 2017, Japan successfully extracted zinc from the seabed off Okinawa. “We need research cruises to incorporate soundscapes as part of their surveying,” Dr. Chen said, adding that the process should also be included in baseline environmental studies of potential mining sites.

    Many deep-sea mining interests overlap with biodiversity hot spots, such as sulfide-rich hydrothermal vents. Dr. Chen suspects that vent soundscapes may offer long-distance cues to deep-sea larvae looking to settle and start their lives on the seafloor. “Chemical cues get diluted by seawater, but sound propagates very far, so it potentially has a very important role,” Dr. Chen said. If deep-sea mining were to interrupt larval settlement, communities could take years to recover.

    Dr. Lin continues to scan his soundscapes for any new patterns. The recordings are still cryptic, a hazy bramble of ambience. But at least for now, some reflect the racket of a deep sea that’s still noisy in the ways it’s supposed to be.

    See the full New York Times article here .

    ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Lin’s work doesn’t end there, however. In June, he became the twelfth person, and the first of Taiwanese descent, to dive to the deepest part of the ocean, Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. He made the trip with Caladan Oceanic’s Victor Vescovo aboard the submersible Limiting and took a specialized hydrophone recorder with him to record ambient sound as well as acoustic signals transmitted from an underwater speaker deployed near the ocean surface from the ship. In addition to improving scientists’ understanding of how sound refracts in the deep ocean, Lin’s shipboard experiments will provide greater clarity on how acoustic communication and geo-location could be improved at extreme depths.

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The telescope, which will see its first operational deployments later this year in the vicinity of the Ocean Observatories Initiative Pioneer Array, takes advantage of the fact that, although seawater absorbs most electromagnetic energy (light, radio waves, etc.), it is extremely good at transmitting sound energy. YT’s device will be able to listen in on distant acoustic phenomena—such as whale calls, schooling fish, crashing waves, rainfall, and earthquakes—all of which produce distinctive acoustic signatures, enabling scientists to map the complexity of sounds in the ocean and provide a more nuanced, holistic view of both the natural and human-generated underwater soundscape.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

    Vision & Mission

    The ocean is a defining feature of our planet and crucial to life on Earth, yet it remains one of the planet’s last unexplored frontiers. For this reason, WHOI scientists and engineers are committed to understanding all facets of the ocean as well as its complex connections with Earth’s atmosphere, land, ice, seafloor, and life—including humanity. This is essential not only to advance knowledge about our planet, but also to ensure society’s long-term welfare and to help guide human stewardship of the environment. WHOI researchers are also dedicated to training future generations of ocean science leaders, to providing unbiased information that informs public policy and decision-making, and to expanding public awareness about the importance of the global ocean and its resources.
    Mission Statement

    The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is dedicated to advancing knowledge of the ocean and its connection with the Earth system through a sustained commitment to excellence in science, engineering, and education, and to the application of this knowledge to problems facing society.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:53 am on November 11, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Wave Glider provides gateway to remote exploration", , , Oceaography, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution   

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: “Wave Glider provides gateway to remote exploration” 

    From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    November 6, 2020
    Elise Hugus

    1
    A phased approach: In tests planned for summer 2021, WHOI geochemist Chris German plans to use the Wave Glider and Sentry to explore the deep ocean (left panel). Next, he plans to use the Wave Glider with a fleet of autonomous underwater vehicles (middle panel). In the future, a self-sustaining Super Wave Glider could recharge deep-sea robots and sustain real-time communications to labs on shore (right panel).

    In August 2021, WHOI geochemist Chris German will test an autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) called a Wave Glider while exploring the East Pacific Rise, a submarine volcanic chain in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. While WHOI’s more familiar autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Sentry is exploring the seafloor for hydrothermal vents at depth, it will relay data back acoustically via the Wave Glider. In this way, the Wave Glider acts as a “mid-ocean telephone operator” to researchers aboard the ship, allowing them to explore the seafloor miles ahead of the ship without Sentry ever having to come to the surface. Meanwhile, other researchers aboard the ship can sample previously discovered sites while the robots scout ahead to find new vent sites on the seafloor. Working together, the robots could more than double the science party’s productivity.

    German first demonstrated the Wave Glider’s capabilities in a proof-of-concept test in Buzzards Bay, just offshore from WHOI, nearly a decade ago. Now poised to prove the approach in a deep-water setting, German anticipates the horizons for scientific exploration will open much wider, both here on Earth and on other Ocean Worlds.

    Why does the Wave Glider interest you?

    To understand our ocean fast enough to predict and manage the impacts of global change, we need to massively accelerate the pace at which we are exploring its vast unknowns. The Wave Glider is critical to that as a gateway. When used together with deep-diving robots, it can help reveal the hidden deep-ocean interior, beyond the reach of what satellites can see from space.

    How does the Wave Glider work with existing underwater vehicles and what problems does it help solve?

    Using the Wave Glider and an AUV like Sentry, together, will massively enhance the efficiency with which we can use large research ships to explore the ocean interior. Next summer, while the robots are deployed, my colleagues will simultaneously be using our ship to sample the water column. With the Wave Glider in the loop, I can take as much time as I need to explore for exciting new discoveries— without depriving my colleagues of valuable ship time. If Sentry finds anything interesting in its sensor data—if it “sniffs” a new vent—it will be able to alert me via the Wave Glider immediately. If I want to change its exploration strategy in response, say, to map the site or even take photographs, I will be able to relay those new instructions back to Sentry at the seafloor without interrupting what anyone else is doing. By the time my colleagues are ready to move on, I’ll already know the next “sweet spot” to bring the ship to. This is my vision for the future of marine robotics. Turning that vision into a reality could really help relieve the burden on access to our precious top-of-the-line research ships.

    2
    Chris German, center, directs hydrothermal sampling operations aboard ship based on real-time sensor data from a CTD-rosette. During the expedition, German’s role was to identify the best place to collect the seawater samples that would then be sub-sampled by others for specialized geochemical measurements. Credit:Brett Longworth, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

    What other extreme capabilities could the Wave Glider provide in the future?

    Imagine a future in which a swarm of underwater robots are in communication with one Wave Glider “drone,” all working in tandem. The vehicles could be flying in formation to map large areas of seafloor, or investigating different depths across the ocean. Now step back and imagine multiple Wave Gliders patrolling the ocean surface— each with its own squadron of underwater vehicles— fanning out across the ocean, all coordinated from a single ship that transports them out to the study site and brings them home again.

    Then, imagine if those Wave Gliders had enough endurance that the ship could leave them in place “treading water” for a year, or drive themselves out into the middle of the ocean without needing a ship to carry them there in the first place. Lastly, imagine what surface and deep ocean robots could do working in partnership. A larger version of today’s Wave Gliders could carry solar arrays large enough to recharge the rest of their underwater “squadron.” When vehicles at depth run low on energy, they could drive up to the surface to recharge at these new “Super Wave Gliders,” using the navigation techniques we already have in place. Once their battery packs are recharged, each underwater craft could be directed back down to carry on working exactly where it left off. That may be a decade out, but it is coming.

    What’s more, the same satellite communications we use to relay information via the Wave Glider to scientists on the ship could just as easily be used to relay information back to WHOI, day or night, via telepresence. Not only could scientists at WHOI be kept informed of what those robots were finding on the seafloor, but we could also keep all of those robots updated—and re-tasked as desired—on what they should do next. Lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that there’s no reason why we couldn’t get an alert in the middle of the night and reprogram robots on what to do next— without even leaving home!

    Once we have proven the system with a single Wave Glider next summer, we expect NSF, the NOAA Ocean Exploration program, and others to take notice. And by the time we have worked out all the kinks, we’ll be ready to work with NASA to set the same strategies in motion to explore the recently discovered oceans on planets beyond Earth.

    4
    Former WHOI physical oceanographer Dave Fratantoni inspects a Wave Glider on the deck of R/V Knorr in 2012. The Wave Glider uses wave motion to propel itself through the ocean and solar-charged batteries to power its data collection sensors. Credit:Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

    How does robotic ocean exploration open up the inquiry into other Ocean Worlds?

    Oceans are abundant throughout our solar system. The only conceivable way to explore these oceans is with advanced underwater robotics. That’s where WHOI comes in. Oceans might be a new domain for NASA, but we’ve been thinking about how to get to extreme places in Earth’s ocean for decades.

    Investing in these kinds of robotic advances should be a win-win for NASA and marine sciences alike. For NASA, everything we learn about our oceans can be applied to the exploration of oceans beyond Earth, including the fact that they may well have the capacity to host and sustain life. As one example, the Von Damm hydrothermal vent in the Caribbean is very similar in terms of temperature, mineral and chemical composition to what has been predicted on the seafloor of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus. It’s also the first site on Earth where WHOI scientists have demonstrated that a submarine vent can spontaneously generate key organic molecules critical to the origin of life. In terms of the benefits to ocean sciences, think of all the amazing engineering resources that NASA has access to. If we can partner with them to develop these robotic systems, our ability to explore Earth’s oceans will become so much greater.

    Remember, one of humanity’s longest-asked questions is, “Are we alone in the Universe?” That question could be answered in our lifetime, using expertise that we have here at WHOI. We could go and look. We know how to do it, intellectually. It’s just a matter of making it happen.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

    Vision & Mission

    The ocean is a defining feature of our planet and crucial to life on Earth, yet it remains one of the planet’s last unexplored frontiers. For this reason, WHOI scientists and engineers are committed to understanding all facets of the ocean as well as its complex connections with Earth’s atmosphere, land, ice, seafloor, and life—including humanity. This is essential not only to advance knowledge about our planet, but also to ensure society’s long-term welfare and to help guide human stewardship of the environment. WHOI researchers are also dedicated to training future generations of ocean science leaders, to providing unbiased information that informs public policy and decision-making, and to expanding public awareness about the importance of the global ocean and its resources.
    Mission Statement

    The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is dedicated to advancing knowledge of the ocean and its connection with the Earth system through a sustained commitment to excellence in science, engineering, and education, and to the application of this knowledge to problems facing society.

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel
%d bloggers like this: