Waiting for an undersea robot in Antarctica to call home

phys.org | 9/25/2013 | Staff
jollyjetta (Posted by) Level 3
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"Call! Just call!" I think loudly in my head. "Did something happen? Are you okay?"

I might seem like a worried parent waiting for a teenager to report in from an unsupervised outing. Rather, I'm a research biologist with the Antarctic Ecosystem Research Division at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It's late February 2019, and I am waiting for an autonomous underwater glider in Antarctica to surface and call me via satellite, so I can give it new diving instructions. The longest it's supposed to go without surfacing is eight hours, and it's now been nine.

Iceberg - Underwater - Ledge - Miles - San

Did it get stuck under an iceberg? An underwater ledge? I feel so helpless; I'm 9,000 miles away in San Diego and all I can do is chew my fingernails and think, "No. This can't happen. We can't lose this glider so close to the end."

Our research team is two-and-a-half months into a three-month-long mission just north of the Antarctic Peninsula. This is our first time deploying gliders so far from home, and our hope for a successful field season—not to mention a great deal of research—depends on recovering the two gliders our group deployed in December 2018. The gliders are now full of oceanographic data that will help us provide scientific advice on how best to conserve the Antarctic ecosystem as the area around the peninsula warms faster than almost any other region on Earth, which may adversely affect the animals that live there.

Years - NOAA - Group - Part - Studies

For over 30 years, the NOAA group I'm part of has conducted studies to estimate how many Antarctic krill, small shrimp-like creatures that support the diverse Antarctic food web, live around the Antarctic Peninsula.

Krill feeds penguins and seals that breed in this area every summer and whales and fishes that feed here year-round, while also supporting a major fishery. You may...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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