CSIRO's New Research Vessel Is Off To Science The Southern Ocean

Even with the government's dubious stance on science, it hasn't stopped CSIRO from doing what it does best. The organisation's recently-commissioned RV Investigator, a purpose-built research ship, set sail last week for the Southern Ocean in a bid to further our understanding of climate change.

According to a release from the Marine National Facility, the ship's mission is to gather "vital new insights into the relationship between the atmosphere and the oceans". Professor Tom Trull of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, heads the expedition:

"The big unknown is whether the oceans can continue to absorb ever-increasing amounts of heat and carbon dioxide, or whether their capacity to provide these services will taper off," Professor Trull said. "This is important because the oceans work as a powerful brake on the rate of climate change by absorbing most of the additional heat and about half of the carbon dioxide produced as a result of human activities."

The Investigator brings with it the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), a "high-precision deep-water" device for monitoring the ocean. Trull says that the acidity of the water is changing, but current science doesn't have a good understanding of cause. The IMOS will help researchers understand "how the ocean and atmosphere exchange heat and carbon, and also how these processes impact ocean biology".

The IMOS can collect all sort of data, including "temperature, salinity, acidity, biological activity, ocean currents, nutrients and atmospheric conditions", which are then fed to a satellite.

If you'd like to see how the RV Investigator was built, this timelapse video should prove enlightening:

[Investigator @ CSIRO, via ABC]

Photo: CSIRO