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5 June 2023 News Release

In a world-first voyage to the Southern Ocean, 14 leading ocean chemistry laboratories from 12 countries will collect important ocean data and compare how ocean measurements are made.

CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, is leading the 14-day International Nutrient Intercomparison Voyage (INIV) aboard its research vessel (RV) Investigator, which departs from Hobart on Monday 5 June.

CSIRO Principal Research Engineer and voyage Chief Scientist, Andreas Marouchos, said the voyage will provide the opportunity for international laboratories to collaborate and share their knowledge.

“The voyage offers a unique opportunity for collaboration and cooperation between global ocean chemistry laboratories that collect data to help us monitor the health and productivity of our oceans,” Mr Marouchos said.

“We’ll spend 14 days at sea working side-by-side in an intensive program of ocean sampling to ensure we’re all using uniform, best practice approaches in the study of our oceans.”

Mr Marouchos said the data set collected on this voyage would be unique as voyages to the Southern Ocean were rare during winter due to the extreme ocean conditions at this time of year.

“The data collected on this voyage will also be important in filling a gap in our records, which will allow researchers to better understand how nutrient levels in the Southern Ocean vary at different times of the year,” said Mr Marouchos.

The Southern Ocean is responsible for absorbing about 40 per cent of the carbon dioxide produced by human activities and its nutrient rich waters support vital food webs and productivity.

Participants will use RV Investigator’s advanced oceanographic instruments and onboard laboratories to study ocean properties and nutrients.

The research will include collecting seawater samples from different depths in the ocean using a CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth) instrument.

This instrument can be deployed to a depth of 6000 metres and collect up to 36 seawater samples from different depths in the water column. Teams expect to collect and analyse over 5000 seawater samples during the voyage.

Japan Agency For Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) researcher, Dr Mariko Hatta, said the voyage would help establish a global network between laboratories.

"It’s vital that we understand our rapidly changing ocean conditions,” Dr Hatta said.

“This voyage will not only to improve the quality and the compatibility of the global data base but also provide us with a unique opportunity for educational networking and future collaboration.”

CSIRO’s Director of National Collections and Marine Infrastructure, Toni Moate, said the voyage demonstrated both RV Investigator’s research capability and its capability to create a hub for international collaboration.

“The voyage provides a fantastic opportunity to share our expertise and learn from our international colleagues, as well as conduct an important project to help us better monitor the health of the world’s oceans,” Ms Moate said.

While at sea, voyage participants will also be involved in a series of workshops and presentations to share the knowledge gained with colleagues on shore. A series of presentations will also be delivered by voyage participants to school students to coincide with World Oceans Day on 8 June.

“This voyage is an impressive collaboration in science, education and training to help us develop the science and scientists we need to help protect the future prosperity of our oceans,” Mr Marouchos said.

Participating countries in the voyage are Japan, China, South Korea, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Netherlands, France and Australia.

The voyage is supported by the Global Ocean Ship-Based Hydrographic Investigations Program (GO-SHIP) and is endorsed by the Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS), Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean (POGO), Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR), and the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science (UNDOS). 

RV Investigator is part of the Marine National Facility, national research infrastructure enabled by the Australian Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) and operated by CSIRO on behalf of the nation.

For more information about INIV, visit the project website

Images and video are available.


Deployment of CTD instrument from RV Investigator.
HydroBox, a containerised chemistry laboratory, will be used for the first time on this voyage. Image: Julie Janssens.
CSIRO research vessel (RV) Investigator with CTD instrument deployed. Image: Kendall Sherrin.
Voyage Chief Scientist Andreas Marouchos, CSIRO.
INIV participants alongside RV Investigator in Hobart ahead of departure. Image: Carla Howarth.

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