Boaty McBoatface returns home from abyss

Researchers from the University of Southampton have got super data retrieved from some of the coldest abyssal ocean waters on earth…known as the Antarctic Bottom Water. They were able to get this information by using the yellow robotic submersible called Boaty McBoatface which arrived back in the UK last week.

The team of scientists got data on temperature, speed of water flow, and underwater turbulence rates in the Orkney Passage. This Passage is a region in the southern ocean which is around 4,000m deep, and roughly 500 miles from the Antarctic Peninsula.

In order to understand the progress of Boaty and place the data in the context of the complicated terrain of the region, the team have created an animated fly through of the Orkney Passage. The information collected will now be reviewed to understand the complex process of ocean mixing and how it affects climate change.

This was the first Antarctic voyage of Boaty McBoatface , one of the Autosub Long Range class of unmanned submersibles. these are the latest type of autonomous underwater vehicle developed by the National Oceanographic Center. The Autosub was named following last year’s campaign by NERC to name the UK’s new polar research vessel. The vessel will be named after the famous naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough. The popular suggestion of the contest Boaty McBoatface, lives on in the form of the unmanned sub that supports the research ship to explore parts of the polar regions inaccessible to humans.

Boaty completed 3 missions, the longest lasting 3 days, traveling more than 180k, and reaching depths of nearly 4,000m. Travelling back and forth through the abyssal current of Antarctic Bottom Water along the Orkney Passage, sometimes in water colder than O degrees and in currents of up to 1 knot. Huge amounts of data has been collected that would not have been possible before, this is due to Boaty being able to move around whereas before scientists were only able to collect information from fixed points.

We look forward to the further adventures of Boaty McBoatface.

 

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