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

The challenge

We need to know more about the Indian Ocean

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 – home to more than 16 per cent of the world's population.

We need to improve our understanding of this marine environment if both countries are to realise its benefits.

Our response

Using Argo robots to unlock the ocean’s secrets

The new 'Bio Argo' floats, launched in mid 2014, will enhance the already successful 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 3600 free-floating sensors, operating in open ocean areas that provide real-time data on ocean temperature and salinity.

The 'Bio Argo' floats will include additional sensors for dissolved oxygen, nitrate, chlorophyll, dissolved organic matter, and particle scattering. They will target specific gaps in our understanding of Indian Ocean ecosystems of immediate concern to India and Australia, such as the Bay of Bengal and the waters of north Western Australia.

We are leading the project in collaboration with the Indian National Institute of Oceanography (CSIR-NIO) and the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services.

Deployment of an Argo float from a ship.

The results

An improved understanding

The novel technological innovation is giving researchers from both countries a new understanding of the Indian Ocean and how it is being impacted by human activities.

By combining the research capabilities of India and Australia we will see an improved ability to predict and prepare for global climate change, as well as better conservation of marine biodiversity.

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