Collecting data across our enormous ocean
The oceans play a pivotal role in influencing our climate, and are home to a tremendous diversity of underwater ecosystem that sustain life on Earth.
The oceans absorb about 90 per cent of heat trapped by greenhouse gas emissions and takes up about 25 per cent of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere each year, helping to slow the rate of climate change. Ocean plants provide about 50 per cent of the oxygen we breath, while marine ecosystems are vital for tourism and as a source of food.
Ocean observations and collection of data are essential to underpinning the development of the blue economy, covering a range of needs from data to support sustainable management of marine ecosystems, to improving medium to long-term forecasts of weather and climate for Australia. The collection of observations regularly and at scale around Australia's vast ocean estate is a huge challenge. Autonomy is a key technological solution helping to address this challenge.
Plugging data gaps through autonomous systems
The growth of autonomous observing systems has revolutionised the possibilities around what data can be collected in the ocean, and from where. We are actively investing in the development of autonomous technologies to support a wide range of ocean science operations. Developments in both hardware and software are extending the global range over which observations can be made. Improved sensors are capturing data across a wider range of variables and more frequently.
Delivery of data in real-time through satellite links has enhanced the possibilities for ocean science research, bringing technological solutions to enable responses to complex and immediate problems such as measuring the extent and impacts of marine heatwaves or oil spills in remote areas where ships may not be available.
The use of unmanned surface vehicles (USV) around Australia and in the Southern Ocean presents a leap forward in the way ocean data is collected, plugging gaps in the available ocean and climate data for researchers.
Partnering with Saildrone for next-gen ocean research
CSIRO has established a research partnership with San Francisco based ocean technology start-up Saildrone.
Saildrone USVs are a revolution in ocean measuring with applications across climate and environmental monitoring, fisheries research and stock assessments, and defence. They are equipped with a powerhouse of ocean chemistry, meteorological and marine acoustic sensors. They are solar and wind powered, and capable of being deployed at sea for extended periods of up to 12 months without returning to dock.
Carbon measurements aboard the Saildrones make use of technology developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environment Lab (NOAA-PMEL).
The USVs will enable ocean and climate data collection to deepen our knowledge on the marine environment and provide important input into a sustainable ocean and prosperous blue economy.
CSIRO's partnership with Saildrone will enhance our extensive network of marine and climate monitoring systems around Australia and to provide a platform for development of next generation marine technologies.