Dr Alain Protat
Bureau of Meteorology (BoM)
Transit voyage from Darwin to Fremantle to relocate the vessel in preparation for IN2020_V01. During the transit, a number of research, education and outreach projects will be undertaken.
The Chief Scientist on this voyage will lead a project that will use RV Investigator's advanced weather radar as a moving reference point for the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) operational radar network located along the coast from Darwin to Fremantle. This data will be used to calibrate Australia's operational radar network.
The voyage also includes the following research and outreach projects:
- Supplementary Cloud Radar, Lidar and Aerosol Measurements (Dr Alain Protat, BoM / Dr Robyn Schofield, University of Melbourne - on shore)
- Spatial and temporal variability in the distribution and abundance of seabirds (Dr Eric Woehler, Birdlife Australia)
- Microplastic in the food chain: impact on microbial and planktonic organisms (A/Prof Sophie Leterme, Flinders University - on shore)
- Continuous plankton recorder tows (Claire Davies, CSIRO - on shore)
- CSIRO Educator on Board Program (Dr Ben Arthur, CSIRO)
- MNF Indigenous Time at Sea Scholarship (Ms Hannah McCleary, CSIRO)
The science team on this voyage includes 27 participants from 8 institutions, including two Australian school teachers under the CSIRO Educator on Board Program and the first two university students under the MNF Indigenous Time at Sea Scholarship (ITSS).
This will be the first time the vessel has been at sea over Christmas.
The operational weather radar network is the main source of real-time information about severe weather and associated hail, heavy rain, and wind gusts for the general public and private industries. Providing such service in a quantitative way to the nation requires that radars be accurately calibrated. The dataset collected during this voyage will allow for the operational tools developed by the Bureau of Meteorology to monitor the radar calibration to be validated using one single source of reference, the OceanPOL weather radar on RV Investigator.
During this voyage, small microplastics were measured for the first time down to the size of 0.2 µm (0.0002 mm). These data will provide increased knowledge on the microbial and planktonic communities in Australian waters, and we will assess the amount of microplastic ingested by zooplankton species at the time of sampling. This will allow us to predict how much is carried up the food chain and potentially ingested by fish. Through this study we will also determine the capability of microplastics to be vessels for the transport of invasive species and pathogens.
This voyage also provided an opportunity to undertake spatially-explicit detailed surveys of seabirds and marine mammals in remote areas of Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Few surveys of the EEZ between Darwin and Perth have been undertaken, so very few data are available on the distribution of seabirds and marine mammals for this area, approximately one quarter of Australia’s coastline.
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