This deep sea rover has been studying climate change for 7 years

The Benthic Rover II has been collecting data from the deep sea, and a study entailing its findings has just been published.

1 minute & 21 seconds read time

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute's (MBARI) Benthic Rover II has been trawling the ocean floor for seven years, collecting data on the carbon cycle of the deep sea and how it is impacted by climate change.

Less is known about the deep sea than other planets in our solar system. Delving many miles below the ocean surface is a challenge, owing to extreme pressures and seawater's corrosive nature. It is impressive not only to reach deep down but to continue operating there for more than half a decade.

One hundred forty miles (225 kilometers) off the coast of central California and 13,100 feet (4,000 meters) below the surface lies Station M, MBARI's research site where the Benthic Rover II operates. This depth is equivalent to the ocean's average depth and allows for an adept model for studying deep-ocean ecosystems.

"The success of this abyssal rover now permits long-term monitoring of the coupling between the water column and seafloor. Understanding these connected processes is critical to predicting the health and productivity of our planet engulfed in a changing climate," said MBARI Senior Scientist Ken Smith.

Where scientists previously relied on stationary and short-lived instruments to study the deep sea, the Benthic Rover II can locomote on a pair of wide rubber tracks while consuming only two watts in operation, allowing it to operate for a year on battery power. It is similar in size to a small car, measuring 8.5 feet (2.6 meters) long, 5.6 feet (1.7 meters) wide, and 4.9 feet (1.5 meters) high.

This deep sea rover has been studying climate change for 7 years 01

Thanks to its corrosion-resistant titanium, plastic, and pressure-resistant syntactic foam, it can withstand the hostile environments of the deep sea at depths of up to 19,700 feet (6,000 meters). The rover's long-term success of data collection shows it is possible to expand our understanding of the deep sea by deploying more similar robots and mobile laboratories.

You can read the study here.

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