Climate Scientists to Sneak Data-Collecting Robots into Pirate-Infested Waters


Photo courtesy of CSIRO

Huge swaths of the Indian Ocean are considered extremely dangerous, thanks to a still-ascendant rate of attacks by Somali pirates in those waters. 61% of all attacks on the open ocean occur in those waters. And that presents climate scientists looking to obtain a comprehensive picture of global ocean temperatures with a major problem. So, they've devised a plan: With the help of the U.S. and Australian Navies, they'll launch 19 data-collecting submersible robots into the Indian Ocean, hopefully sneaking them past the pirates ...The Hindu reports:

the robots will be released by the two navies over the next six months, said Ann Threhser, a lead scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Australia's national science agency ... The robots collect key data used for forecasting monsoon and rainfall in Australia and South Asia. A "hole in our observations means our errors are much larger, our uncertainties are much larger and we can't tell farmers what to do because we don't know ourselves," she said.

The nearly 2--meter (6.5--foot) --long robots are programmed to drift 1,000 yards (meters) for 10 days, then fall 1.5 miles (2--kilometers) into the ocean to collect data before ascending to the surface and transmitting information to satellites. They provide near real--time observations of conditions such as heat and salinity patterns, which drive the climate and monsoonal systems that bring rain to Australia.

The effort is part of a multinational project lead by British and Australian scientists to collect such information about the world's oceans. Over 3,000 such robots will be deployed across the globe. Elsewhere, the scientists will use regular ol' chartered boats and research vessels to send out the robots. Occasionally, they'll enlist the aid of commercial freighters -- but this is the only place where they'll be relying on military assistance. And a little luck, of course.

Also, I hope this little news bit resonates with all the climate science haters out there: Note that these scientists are so dedicated to obtaining good, authoritative measurements that they're collecting data in deadly, pirate-infested waters. I mean, there have to be easier ways to push the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people ...

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