We're not saying it's aliens, but a team of scientists has just discovered a glowing purple orb at the bottom of the ocean, and if you've ever seen The Abyss, I think you know how this will end.
Tagged With oceanography
Would you just look at him? Sprung to life out of a Pixar movie, the ghostly little fella pictured above was discovered last month by Deep Discoverer, the deep-diving robot that travels with NOAA's Okeanos Explorer. Spotted 4290m beneath the surface, it's the deepest observation of a so-called incirrate octopus ever, and it might be a new species.
You might remember hearing about the global warming "hiatus" a few years back — a pause in Earth's inexorably rising temperature, which some used as evidence that climate change is a hoax. But scientists are now completely sure that the pause never happened. And we know exactly where the missing heat wound up.
Seventy per cent of Earth's surface is ocean, and without it, the other 30 per cent would barely be inhabitable. The ocean absorbs and distributes heat around the globe, and it acts as a planet-sized CO2 scrubber, saving us all from a runaway greenhouse effect like the one that turned Venus into a hell-world. But the ocean, like the rest of Earth's climate system, is changing — and not for the better.
There's been much debate these past few years over the cause of the so-called global warming "hiatus" — a pause in the overall uptick up of Earth's temperature due to cooling at the surface of the Pacific Ocean since the early 2000s. Did climate warming stop? Nope, we just weren't looking deep enough.
One of the hottest areas of oceanic research centres around deep sea hydrothermal vents and the unique animal species that call it home. But at depths of more than a mile, donning a snorkelling mask and flippers just won't cut it. That's why Ocean Networks Canada has deployed a state-of-the-art camera to document life in the Grotto Hydrothermal Vent in real time.
Barely a week since successfully completing sea trials after a three year hiatus, the venerable research sub Alvin is already earning back the $US42 million in hardware upgrades and engineering retrofits it's received — showing off its spacious new three-crew cabin with a quick dive to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. But this is no pleasure cruise.
Even though they cover two-third's of the planet's surface, we know precious little about how the oceans actually interact with the continents and atmosphere. What's more, our oceanic models are woefully incomplete — only capable of showing large areas with reduced resolution or in high detail over a limited area. But a new fleet of autonomous research submarines are about to rectify that problem.
Over the course of 4400 dives, Alvin has done just about everything. Its recovered lost nukes, explored the ruins of the HMS Titanic, and upturned our understanding of the deep sea with the discovery of hydrothermal vents bustling with unimaginable forms of life. But after 48 years of service, the venerable ROV is starting to show its age, and is quickly being eclipsed by newer models.