The oceanographic and climate change research teams of the Marine Institute have recently (22nd October) carried out tests of a new unmanned underwater “Glider” in the shallow waters of Lough Furnace in Newport, Co Mayo.
This battery powered autonomous vehicle can be used to collect oceanographic data remotely at sea and relay this data back to shore using satellite communications.
Dr. Glenn Nolan of the Marine Institute said, “after successful trials have been completed, the glider will be deployed in deep water off the coast of Ireland to complement research on currents and ocean circulation already being done by teams working on the research vessels RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager”. The trial for the Glider is the first step in a broader plan of the Marine Institute in assessing the ocean’s changing temperatures, salinity, chlorophyll and oxygen levels. The information gathered will then be used to drive ocean circulation models to help us understand issues relating to climate change in Irish waters”.
The Glider, which was procured under the European Regional Development Fund, has the ability to dive to depths of one thousand metres, gliding forward across thousands of kilometres of ocean as a conventional aircraft travels through air. Sheena Fennell, oceanographic scientist in charge of the trials further explained that “while the glider is at sea it ‘flies’ under water by changing its buoyancy and while at the surface it fixes its position through the Global Positioning System (GPS). Its path can be changed by an operator on shore at anytime and can be adjusted depending on the oceanographic features that are found during the flights”.