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Ocean Research

2015:  JAN | FEB

February 2015 Issue

ASL Studies Metocean, Ice for Alaska LNG Project
ASL Environmental Sciences (Victoria, Canada) has a contract for a three-year metocean-ice study program in Cook Inlet, Alaska, for the proposed Alaska LNG Project terminal site. This turnkey metocean program includes program management, a PSO (protected species observer), vessel, HSE lead, data processing and analysis, and engineering inputs.

During the summer and fall of 2014 ASL deployed three Ice Profiler/ADCP moorings close to Nikiski, Alaska, on the Kenai Peninsula. Each mooring consisted of an Ice Profiler, ADCP, CT and OBS Turbidity and was mounted in ASL’s own designed bottom frame, or a taut-line mooring. An additional eight ADCP moorings were deployed through the northern Cook Inlet June through October 2014. Later in October, the eight moorings were replaced with four custom-built, heavy-duty frames, each containing an Ice Profiler, ADCP, CT and OBS.

Sediment transport and sand waves will be studied in this highly dynamic area (6-knot currents). ASL will return to the sites biannually to download data and service the moorings.

Antarctic Gateway Partnership to Set Up Marine Tech Hub
Research at the Australian Maritime College (AMC), a specialist institute of the University of Tasmania, will allow the nation to capitalize on the robotic age of Antarctic exploration. The $24 million Antarctic Gateway Partnership, launched by the Australian government in November 2014, includes $7.5 million to establish a marine technology hub to build next-generation hybrid autonomous vehicles capable of exploring hundreds of kilometers beneath meters-thick ice. Leading this research and development is AMC’s AUV and fluid mechanics expert Dr. Alex Forrest.

“There are four main areas of research in the Antarctic Gateway Partnership—ice shelf cavities, marine biology, solid earth and marine technologies,” said Forrest. “We’ll be leading the marine technologies theme and developing a new AUV that can go underneath ice cavities, sample the biology and provide feedback for all the other themes.”

The robots are to be developed and built over the next three years in readiness for deployment in 2018, the final year of the project.

“In essence, these robots are relatively simple in design, but it’s their range, capabilities, instruments and data sensors that we want to expand upon in a novel way,” said Forrest.

The Antarctic Gateway Partnership will complement research programs and priorities developed in Australia’s Antarctic Science Strategic Plan to understand the role of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean in the global climate system. In addition to the establishment of a marine technology hub, the $24 million project includes the development of a sea ice charting service for polar mariners in East Antarctica and an increase in the number of Australian scientists working in Antarctica.

Hadal Lander Captures Record Fish Footage in Marianas
Oceanlab’s Hadal Lander has captured record-breaking video footage of fish at a depth of 8,145 meters in the Marianas Trench, recorded using a NETmc Marine (New Deer, Scotland) 73fifty DVR.

This DVR is widely used in the offshore ROV and diving industry on a range of projects from drill support to pipeline inspections, as well as by energy companies for plant inspection programs.

The 73fifty DVR was chosen for the Hadal Lander due to its low power consumption, quality of recording, compact size and reliability. NETmc Marine also wrote the mission control software for the Hadal Lander, programming sleep and on/off periods for filming, thus preserving the precious battery life and extending the dive time of the Lander.

This is the second video system NETmc Marine has developed for Oceanlab.

The first, in 2008, was based on their DVR Inspector; that mission discovered new species of fish between 6,000 and 8,000 meters, a depth record at that time.

WHOI Receives $5 Million for Testing, Research Facilities
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has awarded the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) a $5 million grant toward the construction of new facilities for the testing and research into innovative marine robotics, such as AUVs. The five-year grant award is being made as part of the Collaborative Research and Development Matching Grant Program, managed by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. The grant to WHOI’s Center for Marine Robotics will help accelerate the deployment of new and existing marine robotics technologies in Massachusetts.

The grant will go toward capital improvements in new testing facilities, which includes a rapid prototyping center, advanced pressure test facility, indoor robotic test tank facility, and in-ocean test environment. The grant will also support applied research, product development and novel testing activities.

State funds will be met with a 3-1 match, bringing the project’s total to more than $20 million. The investment will help drive increased outside investment in Massachusetts-based research and development programs and has the potential to grow to more than $50 million in total.

According to a study from Douglas-Westwood, deployed AUV systems are projected to grow by 42 percent over the next four years.

Super-Earths With Sustainable Oceans Could House Life
At the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society in January, new research was presented on “super-Earths” that have the potential to support life due to the possibility of liquid water, or oceans, on those planets, reported the Huffington Post. Super-Earths are bigger than our Earth but smaller than the gas giant planets such as Neptune and Uranus.

Using computer simulations, researchers found that super-Earths with a mass two to four times greater than Earth’s appear to create and sustain oceans better than our planet, with the oceans perhaps lasting more than 10 billion years.

This could have implications for which exoplanets have the most potential to house life.

2015:  JAN | FEB

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