Robot dolphins go deep to understand Antarctic melt

November 13, 2014 5:26 PM

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We knew the West Antarctic ice was melting, but it's taken a school of robotic dolphins to figure out why, with researchers at Caltech using ocean gliders to explore the ocean eddies responsible. The six foot long robots take advantage of changes in buoyancy to soar through the water, rather than propellers, and swam the Southern Ocean off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula for two months, diving to depths of around 1.2 miles before surfacing again to report their findings around temperature and salinity via radio links to the Caltech team.

Traditionally, such measurements would be taken by trailing instruments behind ships, the oceanographers say, or even looking to satellite data on patterns of water temperature.

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