Extreme Deep Ocean to be Explored with Hadal Deep Water Profiler

Concept Hadal Water Column Profiler (HWCP) descending into a deep ocean trench. The wake behind the instrument is generated by drag elements designed to control maintain a steady fall rate although the water is increasingly colder and denser with depth.

A three-year project led by the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa will apply a $1.2 million Keck Foundation award to build a hadal water column profiler. The hadal zone is a system of trenches that make up the deepest part of the ocean, some down to 11,000 m deep.

The hadal zone covers an area larger than the size of Texas and has pressures approaching 1,100 times atmospheric pressure at the deepest point (16,000 psi). Very little is known about the circulation, mixing, chemical properties and biological communities in the water of these deep ocean trenches.

The profiler will enable high-quality physical, chemical and biological sampling of the water column from the sea surface to the seafloor, create frequent depth profiles, allow researchers to observe important physical and chemical changes in the ocean environment, and provide observations to illuminate certain persistent research problems, such as how the deep ocean trenches are ventilated.

Images and concept drawings of the hadal water column profiler courtesy of the University of Hawai‘i Foundation.

Learn more about the deep ocean trenches at The Conversation or at the HADES project website.

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