SA sea robots combat climate change

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Cape Town - South Africa is leading the way in cutting-edge climate change research. For the first time ever, unmanned sea robots will be sent to the Southern Ocean in Antarctica to measure just how much the seas are changing.

CAPE TOWN - South Africa is leading the way in cutting-edge climate change research.
 
For the first time ever, unmanned sea robots will be sent to the Southern Ocean in Antarctica to measure just how much the seas are changing.
 
But before that happens, these multi-million rand machines are being tested off Cape Town’s coast. Their mission is to enable scientists to better understand the impact of climate change. 
 
Sinekhaya Bilana, electronic technician at CSIR says, "The wave glider stays on the surface and we use it for carbon measurement. The sea glider dives down to a thousand metres, and comes back to the surface every five hours. When it comes back to the surface, it measures all the data it’s collected.”
 
CSIR Senior researcher Dr Sebastian Swart says, "This gives us the first windows of how to constrain how much CO2 fluxes between the atmosphere and the ocean, and how important is that part of the ocean in the global earth system in regulating and controlling how much CO2 is in the earth’s atmosphere.”
 
This information is crucial in understanding how our oceans are changing. It’s critical to know how much carbon dioxide the southern ocean is absorbing. The sensors also measure light, depth, the P-H balance and temperature. 
 
Swart adds, "We know unequivocally we are having an impact and climate change is happening. But we still have a long way to go, to really fully understand everything that’s going on. It’s a dynamic system. And if we don’t take these observations into account we won’t understand the processes.”
 
Now, with constant monitoring, they can build a time series to understand the ocean’s changes and trends, which will be crucial as climate change inevitably alters the planet. 
 
This project is setting South Africa up as a world leader in this field.