New $53 million grant to create a world-wide fleet of robotic floats to monitor ocean health

WASHINGTON, D.C.—On Oct. 29, the National Science Foundation (NSF) approved a $53 million grant to a consortium of the country’s top ocean-research institutions to build a global network of chemical and biological sensors that will monitor ocean health. Scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), University of Washington, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Princeton University will use this grant to build and deploy 500 robotic ocean-monitoring floats around the globe.

This new network of floats, called the Global Ocean Biogeochemistry Array (GO-BGC Array), will collect observations of ocean chemistry and biology between the surface and a depth of 2,000 meters (6,560 feet). Data streaming from the float array will be made freely available within a day of being collected, and will be used by scores of researchers, educators, and policy makers around the world.

These data will allow scientists to pursue fundamental questions about ocean ecosystems, observe ecosystem health and productivity, and monitor the elemental cycles of carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen in the ocean through all seasons of the year. The data will be used improve computer models of ocean fisheries and climate, and to monitor and forecast the effects of ocean warming and ocean acidification on sea life.

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