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For the first time, scientists from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa (UH Mānoa) and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) will deploy a small fleet of long-range autonomous underwater vehicles (LRAUVs) that have the ability to collect and archive seawater samples automatically. These new robots will allow researchers to track and study ocean microbes in unprecedented detail.
Ocean microbes produce at least fifty percent of the oxygen in our atmosphere while removing large amounts of carbon dioxide. They also form the foundation of marine food webs, including those that support global ocean fisheries. Edward DeLong and David Karl, oceanography professors in the UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) have been studying these microbes for decades. For this project, they and their teams are collaborating with engineers from MBARI to test new ways of adaptively sampling oceanographic features such as open-ocean eddies, swirling masses of water that move slowly across the Pacific Ocean, which can have large effects on ocean microbes.
February - MBARI - Engineers - Construction - Testing
In late February 2018, MBARI engineers completed the construction and testing of three new LRAUVs in collaboration with UH Mānoa scientists, and delivered them last week for their first deployment in Hawaiian waters. As the LRAUVs move through the ocean, they collect information about water temperature, chemistry, and chlorophyll (an indicator of microscopic algae) and send this data to scientists on shore or on a nearby ship. Additionally, a unique aspect of these AUVs is an integrated Environmental Sample Processor (ESP), a miniature robotic laboratory that collects and preserves seawater samples at sea, allowing researchers to capture a snapshot of the organisms' genetic material and proteins.
MBARI has been developing ESPs for about 15 years. The first instruments were about the size of a 55-gallon drum. These latest ESPs, the third generation, are eight to ten...
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