Research Fellows Directory
Professor Karen Heywood
University of East Anglia
The research funded by the Fellowship is to develop the use of our Seagliders for oceanographic observations in polar regions. Seagliders are robots that profile up and down in the ocean measuring the properties of the seawater. Every few hours they come to the surface and transmit their data back by mobile phone. They can also receive instructions from their pilot, to change their sampling pattern or to move somewhere else. Observations in polar regions are hard to come by - expensive and logistically difficult. Our work aims to show that gliders can fulfil some of the needs for an ocean observing system for managing our ocean resources (such as krill) and understanding our climate system.
During the Antarctic summer sason (November 2010-February 2011) we deployed two Seagliders in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. This is an interesting area because a large area of open water (a polynya) appears in the otherwise thick sea ice cover in early spring. It's not possible to get there with a ship until the sea ice has melted, so our gliders made the first measurements of the polynya as the spring bloom of plankton occurred. These measurements will help us to better understand the interconnected physical, chemical and biological processes in these polynyas.