Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Ships Helping Marine Scientists
In order to gather large data sets over decades and over ocean and sea basins, cruise and container ships are going to collect data on water temperature, ocean currents and even cloud cover and height. They hope that by enlisting these ships, scientists will be able to answer questions regarding large ocean patterns, such as the changing path of the Gulf Stream. This long term data is usually very hard to obtain, and the cost of renting research vessels could cost upwards of 15 grand a day. Cargo and cruise ships, then will become vitally important in collecting this data.
Some ships have already been enlisted, such as the Norrona, a ferry that makes a roundtrip every week stopping in Denmark, Scotland and Iceland, Rossby hopes to learn more about the cold waters emptying out of the Arctic seas into the northern Atlantic Ocean. Scientists also have been using instruments attached to the cargo ship Oleander since 1992 to monitor the Gulf Stream as the vessel passes between Port Elizabeth, New Jersey, and Bermuda. And another ship, Nuka Arctic, has been helping since 1999 to give scientists a look at the Gulf Stream along its path between Denmark and Greenland. Royal Caribbean even built a ship, dubbed Explorer of the Seas, that has both room for cruise passengers, scientists working in oceanic and atmospheric laboratories and a place where they can interact.
This is pretty cool stuff. The importance of long term data sets is vitally important to understanding physical and biological processes, and this is a great way to go. By equipping ships that already make these passages around the world with the tools needed, it will most likely be much cheaper than renting research vessels. Plus there is a glaring lack of long term data sets. This idea is big news. Check out the whole article here.