CSIRO bio-robots to explore Indian Ocean

Robots will be equipped with tiny sensors to measure the growth of plankton

CSIRO project leader Doctor Nick Hardman-Mountford with a BioArgo robotic float. Photo credit: CSIRO.

CSIRO project leader Doctor Nick Hardman-Mountford with a BioArgo robotic float. Photo credit: CSIRO.

CSIRO will be releasing a fleet of floating bio-robots between Christmas Island and Madagascar next week to measure biological indicators in the Indian Ocean including dissolved oxygen, nitrate, organic matter and particles.

According to CSIRO project leader Doctor Nick Hardman-Mountford, the BioArgo robots can tell researchers about the growth of plankton, how much carbon they take up, how much plankton gets used in the food chain and how much gets buried.

"Knowing about this growth is important for predicting how much food the Indian Ocean can produce and how much carbon dioxide it can capture, and will give us a better idea of what keeps the Indian ocean healthy and productive,” he said in a statement.

The robotic float will operate at a depth of 2000 metres and drift with the current.

The robots will return to the surface to transmit data via satellites back to the researchers in real time.

"We'll compare the BioArgo measurements with observations from satellites to build up a three dimensional picture of the Indian ocean’s depth’s,” said Hardman-Mountford.

He added that the east Indian Ocean brings in catches of seven million tons of fish per year.

"It contains oil and gas resources, and mineral resources like copper, iron, zinc, silver and gold. And it also drives the climates of its surrounding regions, which make up more than 16 per cent of the world’s entire population.”

"So it's important that we keep track of what's going on below the surface."

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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