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Robots to predict ocean heat waves

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Robotic floats armed with sensors will be launched in the Indian Ocean as part of a new India-Australia research partnership to find out what makes the world’s third largest ocean tick – and how both nations can benefit from it.


 

The Indian Ocean contains vast fisheries and mineral resources that are of strategic importance to both Australia and India. It also plays a direct role in driving the climates of its surrounding regions.

 

The new Bio Argo floats, to be launched this summer, will enhance the Argo float technology to measure large-scale changes in the chemistry and biology of marine ecosystems below the Indian Ocean’s surface.


 

The Argo floats are a network of 3,600 free-floating sensors, operating in open ocean areas that provide real-time data on ocean temperature and salinity. They will include additional sensors for dissolved oxygen, nitrate, chlorophyll, dissolved organic matter, and particle scattering.


 

“By studying the Indian Ocean in this detail, we can investigate the origin and impact of marine heat waves like the one that devastated the coral reefs and fisheries off north Western Australian in 2011 – and improve our prediction of them in the future,” said CSIRO’s Nick Hardman-Mountford.


 

The $1 million project was funded in part by the Australian Government under the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund.


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