Home | Contact ST  

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Follow ST

Ocean Research

2018:  FEB

January 2017 Issue

Tandem-L Radar System
To Monitor Ice Sheets

The Alfred Wegener Institute and the German Aerospace Centre are developing a new satellite measurement method for the observation from space of the large ice masses of Greenland and the Antarctic. “Tandem-L” is the name of a new satellite radar system that, when launched in 2022, could provide urgently needed data concerning the shrinkage of the ice sheets in both hemispheres, as well as data on global forest biomass, soil moisture and ocean currents.

Tandem-L comprises two satellites equipped with L-band radar that will orbit the Earth at an altitude of 760 km.

Kelp More Resilient than
Other Coastal Species

Like all marine ecosystems around the world, kelp forests are threatened by human activities. However, a new study reports that kelp ecosystems are faring relatively well, showing the capacity to recover quickly from disturbances.

An international team of scientists collected nearly all of the existing kelp monitoring data sets from around the world to determine whether kelp forests—like corals, sea grasses and other key coastal ecosystem-forming species—are in decline. They analyzed trends in kelp abundance from 34 regions monitored over the past half century and found little to no data for many regions.

While kelp in 38 percent of the analyzed regions showed clear declines, 27 percent of regions posted increases and 35 percent had no net change. However, the range of trajectories seen across regions far exceeded a small rate of decline—1.8 percent per year—at the global scale. This variability might reflect large regional differences in the drivers of local environmental change and that global factors associated with climate change vary by region.

Human-Powered Sub to
Cross English Channel

Two young engineers, Antoine Delafargue and Michael de Lagarde, will attempt a 250-km crossing of the English Channel in a pedal-powered submarine. The sealed hull is constructed of wood, fiberglass and a resin composite, and the sub has ballast tanks, carbon dioxide scrubbers, bow thrusters and a sonar.

It also has safety features, such as an emergency buoy and an acoustic pinger. The pinger, JW Fishers SLFP-1, will allow a surface vessel to track the sub and pinpoint its location in an emergency.

Sea trials will resume next spring, when the sub will run down to 250 m and practice extended underwater operations. If all goes well, the official crossing will be next summer. The expedition will yield a 250-km-long photographic mosaic of the seabed.

AZFP Demo for
Salmon Research

Dr. Svein Vagle of the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney, Canada, deployed a four-channel ASL Acoustic Zooplankton and Fish Profiler (AZFP) with 38-, 67-, 125- and 200-kHz channels over the side of a small vessel in Cowichan Bay, Saanich Inlet and Satellite Channel just off Saanich Peninsula on Vancouver Island, BC in Canada. This was a demonstration of capabilities for salmon research. The AZFP was operated autonomously, and the raw data were loaded in Echoview 7.1 for viewing and analysis.

MSRC to Research Risk
Management-Based Safety

The Maritime Safety Research Centre (MSRC) has officially opened. An industry-university partnership involving Strathclyde’s Department of Naval Architecture, Ocean & Marine Engineering, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and DNV GL, the MSRC will contribute to safer waterborne operations through the development and implementation of a life-cycle risk management approach. Research areas include: safety and security of complex systems on board ships, dynamic barrier management, ship stability, intact and damage stability of cruise ships, safety culture, fire protection and prevention, and blackout prevention.

More Automated DVL
Improves Mapping

In a collaboration with Nortek, researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) have found that a horizontally facing DVL is key to solving mapping challenges and reduces the need for highly skilled manual ROV operators.

Steep underwater walls are often important to investigate for multiple scientific end-users. However, surveying and mapping of such walls has been challenging due to technical limitations.

Using a Nortek 1-MHz DVL, researchers at the Centre for Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems (NTNU AMOS) have developed an ROV-based system for efficient, high-quality visual mapping of a steep underwater surface. Results from a test survey done by researchers at NTNU AMOS have demonstrated how the DVL measurements enabled the dynamic positioning system to map a vertical underwater wall efficiently with still imagery, while maintaining a constant distance to the face of the wall for ideal image quality and coverage.

Pluto’s Ocean May
Contain Life

William McKinnon, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, argues that beneath the region on Pluto known as Sputnik Planitia, there lies an ocean laden with ammonia.

Using computer models and topographical and compositional data culled from the New Horizon spacecraft’s July 2015 flyby of Pluto, McKinnon led a study on Sputnik Planitia’s churning nitrogen ice surface. He is also an author on the study regarding the orientation and gravity of Pluto caused by this subsurface ocean.

“It’s no place for germs, much less fish or squid, or any life as we know it,” said McKinnon. “But as with the methane seas on Titan—Saturn’s main moon—it raises the question of whether some truly novel life forms could exist in these exotic, cold liquids.”

As humankind explores deeper into the Kuiper Belt and farther from Earth, more subsurface seas could be discovered, with more potential for exotic life. “It might even be pre-cellular, like we think the earliest life on Earth was,” he said.

2018:  FEB

-back to top-

Sea Technology is read worldwide in more than 110 countries by management, engineers, scientists and technical personnel working in industry, government and educational research institutions. Readers are involved with oceanographic research, fisheries management, offshore oil and gas exploration and production, undersea defense including antisubmarine warfare, ocean mining and commercial diving.