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Ocean Research


October 2015 Issue

Southern Ocean Absorbs
More Carbon Dioxide

Since 2002, the Southern Ocean has been removing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to two new studies, American Geophysical Union announced. This is contrary to previous evidence suggesting that the Southern Ocean carbon dioxide sink was weakening.

The global oceans are an important sink for human-released carbon dioxide, absorbing nearly a quarter of the total carbon dioxide emissions every year. Of all ocean regions, the Southern Ocean below the 35th parallel South plays a particularly vital role.

iXBlue Positioning System
For Neutrino Research

iXBlue has provided the CPPM research center, based in Marseille, France, a full positioning system for their security and precision requirements for underwater studies.

CPPM observes the cosmos by detecting highly energetic elementary particles called “neutrinos”. Those particles are the only witness of violent cosmic phenomena, and when crossing the earth, they produce a charged particle which emits a flash of bluish light when penetrating into the sea. The center is deploying subsea telescopes to observe those flashes underwater.

Requiring a light pollution-free environment, the deployment is made at a depth of 2,500 m. The telescopes are made of several optical modules mounted on tens of mooring lines. In order to set them up correctly and calibrate the instruments, a highly secure and extremely precise subsea positioning system is necessary.

iXBlue provided CPPM with one low-frequency RAMSES 6000 for the acoustic positioning of the lines and ROV; one HYDRINS (INS) to enhance the vessel position; one MT391 transponder to position the ROV during the operations; four RTA61 releasable transponders to make up the LBL field; two RTA61 releasable transponders to control the deployment of the line; RAMSES REPLAY post-processing software; and a remote control.

Study on Phoenix
Islands Coral Reefs

A research team led by the New England Aquarium (NEAQ) and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have embarked on a 6,000-mi. expedition to one of the most remote places on Earth—the Phoenix Islands in the central Pacific Ocean.

Researchers will investigate the combined effects of climate change and human activity on these vast coral reef ecosystems and the diversity of life they sustain.

The team will study how El Niño is affecting the conditions of the reefs, as well as the health and viability of the reef-building corals, how the region’s once plentiful shark population is recovering from shark finning activity, and how disintegrating shipwrecks are affecting marine life in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area.

Adapting Bluefin U-4000
For Benthic Mapping

The Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration, Research and Technology at FAU Harbor Branch is working to adapt a new technology for benthic mapping capability: the Bluefin U-4000, an innovative ROV/AUV hybrid that can operate both in a conventional fully autonomous mode and a supervised autonomy mode using a fiber-optic tether.

The team recently conducted dives with the new technology and other traditional instruments off Florida’s east coast, from nearshore to midshelf to the Oculina reefs.

The long-term goals of this work are to establish a southeast U.S. autonomous vehicle test bed; to develop an underwater autonomous platform and a sensing package that can effectively survey and monitor critical deep-coral habitats; and to understand the health and ecosystem dynamics of deep corals in a warming and more acidic ocean.

ESPIS Reinvented
For Improved Search

For BOEM, making informed decisions based on science relies on the ability to readily discover relevant scientific information and data analyses. Using the latest geospatial science and database technology, BOEM has reinvented the Environmental Studies Program Information System (ESPIS), http://marinecadastre.gov/espis/#, to streamline the search, discovery and retrieval of more than 40 years of environmental science.

BOEM partnered with NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management to design and host the new ESPIS, building on the success of another BOEM/NOAA partnership, MarineCadastre.gov.

This innovation aligns BOEM with the federal government’s move toward greater interoperability and openness of government research data and the building of a 21st century digital government.

BOEM and others who are preparing environmental reviews to comply with NEPA will find study reports with more precision by searching expanded metadata of BOEM-funded ocean research. Regional Planning Bodies can georeference study data more easily. Industry, academia and the NGO community will find archived study results from past decades to compare with the latest BOEM research.

Enhanced search tools enable users to submit text and map-based queries to find relevant study information, including downloadable electronic documents of study profiles, technical summaries and final reports, and links to associated publications and digital data.

New systems architecture leverages MarineCadastre.gov’s GIS infrastructure and BOEM/BSEE’s Electronic Document Management System.

American Student Wins
Stockholm Junior Water Prize

Perry Alagappan, 18, from the U.S. won the 2015 Stockholm Junior Water Prize for inventing a filter through which toxic heavy metals from electronic waste can be removed from water.

Combining his interest for water with that of nanotechnology, Alagappan created a first-of-its-kind filter that removes more than 99 percent of heavy metal contaminants from drinking and industrial wastewater.

“This project addresses a critical water issue with broad implications for the whole world,” the jury said. “Through its sound science and sustainable technology, the solution is scalable from household to industrial scale for a broad range of applications.”


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Sea Technology is read worldwide in more than 110 countries by management, engineers, scientists and technical personnel working in industry, government and educational research institutions. Readers are involved with oceanographic research, fisheries management, offshore oil and gas exploration and production, undersea defense including antisubmarine warfare, ocean mining and commercial diving.