Monday, August 06, 2007

Robots in our Oceans

Did you know there are robots in our oceans?

homepage producer Aimee didn't until she spoke with senior meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology Julie Evans, about the Bureau's latest website Blue Link.

The website which was developed by Australian Scientists in collaboration with the Royal Australian Navy, the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology, makes use of new technology using buoys in oceans all over the world called Argo Ocean Profilers.

These buoys collect data beneath the oceans surface and transmit it to satellite every few days.

Information from the Argo Ocean Profilers is combined with satellite images to give forecasts of ocean currents, temperatures, levels and salinity.

Accessing this information has been a crucial part of developing the Blue Link service that gives forecasts of ocean conditions in real time.

Looking at the visual map of the ocean forecasts is a bit like the opening of a James Bond or Austin Powers film; fluorescent, psychedelic patters swirl along the Australian coastline showing changes in ocean temperature and depth.

Jule explained that these patters are very exciting for oceanographers.

"For oceanographers, who study the ocean, it's probably a bit like meteorologists when they first got satellites that could see cloud patterns from space."

Aside from scientific use though, Julie said the forecasts would be useful for many different industries and individuals.

"Anybody operating in our offshore currents; the locations of fish and other marine animals tend to be very sensitive to these eddies and whirls in the ocean that we can't see just normally looking from space. And also marine environmental management, disaster mitigation and safety of life at sea I guess, there will be quite a few users out there".

The Bureau of Meteorology have also updated their radar, offering more detailed maps when you look at a weather forecast, for the advantage of people in more isolated areas so they can find their position on weather charts more accurately.

"You can select to have major roads or railways, rivers, lakes, catchments on or off on your radar image. So especially for people in rural areas who perhaps aren't near a town and wonder where a particular thunder storm is appearing on the radar relative to them, they'll have a lot more information to be able to place themselves on the radar".

Julie said they were just waiting for a bit of rain to test it out.

The Blue Link website is:

The Bureau of Meteorology's improved radar system can found at:

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