Boaty McBoatface returns from first mission under the ice

phys.org | 3/14/2018 | Staff
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The yellow high-tech autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), affectionately known as Boaty McBoatface, has successfully returned from an ambitious science expedition deep below half a kilometre of ice.

It is the first time that Boaty has been deployed underneath an ice shelf, marking a significant milestone in proving the vehicle's capability, and demonstrating the important contribution that AUVs are making in helping scientists understand what happens in hostile and otherwise inaccessible parts of the ocean.

Case - AUV - Sets - CTD - Conductivity

In this case, the AUV carried two sets of CTD (Conductivity, Temperature and Depth) sensors to measure salinity and temperature of the water underneath the Filchner-Ronne ice shelf in Antarctica. Covering an area of around 450,000 square km, it holds a greater volume of ice than any other floating glacier tongue.

Climate researchers are particularly interested in whether more glacial ice is currently being transported into the ocean, since this process is related to rising sea levels. In addition, so-called 'deep water' forms near the ice shelf, which is a key driver of global ocean circulation and therefore impacts upon the climate system everywhere on the planet.

Boaty - Probe - Turbulence - Sensor - Amount

Boaty was also equipped with a micro-structure probe to measure ocean turbulence, a sensor to measure the amount of phytoplankton in the water (by measuring the fluorescence of their chlorophyll) and a sensor to detect the turbidity of the water. It spent a total of 51 hours under the Antarctic ice, travelling 108 km and reaching water depths of 944m.

Steve McPhail, Head of AUV Development at the National Oceanographic Centre, said: "Waiting for the AUV to return is – to say the least – exciting, and as a result I was very relieved each time the AUV turned up, on time, and in the right place, circling 900 m below the ship. Even then our problems were not...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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