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Autonomous observations in extreeme environments – Antarctica and Southern Ocean Forum

Autonomous observations in extreeme environments

August 16, 2018
15:40  -  16:00

Observations in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic waters are sparse due to remoteness and challenging sea conditions. Most observations have traditionally relied on research vessels as a platform, and operational needs have usually resulted in coverage biased to the warmer months when sea-ice coverage is minimal and base access is easier. Recent developments in autonomous platforms including ARGO floats and oceanographic moorings, combined with remote sensing via satellite, are providing new opportunities for sustained year-round observations. Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) are rapidly evolving technology and allow sea surface observations, including in areas infrequently visited by research vessels. Advanced sensor technologies integrated on USVs promise coverage and flexibility for sustained observations at space and time scales not previously achievable. This paper describes platforms and research applications with USVs in support of observations in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic waters.
CSIRO utilises a range of autonomous systems, including autonomous underwater vehicles, remotely operated vehicles and robotic profiling floats as part of its observing capabilities. A variety of sensors can be fitted to USV’s with systems in use to measure air-sea carbon exchange, water quality, acoustic and meteorological parameters. USV’s can also be fitted with additional sensors (e.g. Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers) to characterise water column properties and biota. This paper will provide an overview of applications, payloads and missions relevant to Southern Ocean and Antarctic science. CSIRO plans for the use of USVs in these areas will be described, along with the development of mission primitives as part of the planning stages. Sea trials of a USV platform for this application will be presented, along with a description of future payload types.

Session Category :  Autonomous Observing