Study sheds light on Antarctic winds and climate change

The first mission of the UK’s National Oceancgraphy Centre’s Autosub Long Range (ALR, but known to the world as Boaty McBoatface) has provided critical data on the link between increasing Antarctic winds and rising sea temperatures.

Data collected from the 2017 expedition, published this week in the scientific journal PNAS, will help climate scientists build more accurate models of the impact of climate change on rising sea levels.

The data from Boaty McBoatfacegave us a completely new way of looking at the deep ocean – the path taken by Boaty created a spatial view of the turbulence near the seafloor.”
 Dr Eleanor Frajka-Williams of the National Oceanography Centre said:

The research studied the changing temperatures at the bottom of the Southern Ocean. 

During the three-day mission, Boaty travelled 180 kilometres through mountainous underwater valleys measuring the temperature, saltiness and turbulence of the water at the bottom of the ocean.

Using an echo sounder to navigate, Boaty successfully completed the perilous route, reaching depths of up to 4000 metres, to re-unite with the rest of the project team at the programmed rendezvous location where the sub was recovered and the data collected along its route were downloaded.

“This study is a great example of how exciting new technology such as the unmanned submarine Boaty McBoatface can be used along with ship-based measurements and cutting-edge ocean models to discover and explain previously unknown processes affecting heat transport within the ocean,” Dr Povl Abrahamsen of the British Antarctic Survey said.

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