Boaty McBoatface AUV Completes its First Under-Ice Antarctic Mission

An AUV-ALR deployed by the U.K. National Oceanography Centre has completed its first under-ice Antarctic mission. The autosub long range (ALR) AUV was used as part of the British Antarctic Survey’s Filchner Ice Shelf System (FISS) Project.

The AUV, which was named “Boaty McBoatface” through an internet poll held by the UK Natural Environment Research Council in 2016, was deployed from Jan. to Feb. 2018 in the southern Weddell Sea. “Boaty” traveled 108 km, reached water depths of 944 m and spent 51 hours under the Antarctic ice, including 20 hours beneath a 550-m thick section of the ice shelf. The research team said it had no communication with the AUV during 90% of its underwater mission.

The AUV was equipped with conductivity, temperature and depth (CTD) sensors to measure water temperature and salinity, a micro-structure probe to measure ocean turbulence, a sensor to measure the fluorescence of phytoplankton chlorophyll and acoustic instruments (ADCPs) to measure the water current and depth of the seabed.

The project is geared to better understanding the atmosphere-ice-ocean system and the transfer of glacial ice to Antarctic waters. It was the second successful deployment of the AUV after a mission at 4,000 m depth in the Orkney Passage of the Southern Ocean in 2017.

Read more about the project at the NOC website.

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