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SSF-Svalbard Science Forum

Autonomous long-range under-ice missions for light and water column characterisation

Alternative title: Autonome langdistanse underisoppdrag for karakterisering av lys og vannsøylen

Awarded: NOK 0.50 mill.

Arctic Under-Ice Exploration with Autonomous Gliders An international team aims to revolutionize studying remote Arctic under-ice environments using autonomous underwater vehicles called hybrid gliders. As sea ice diminishes due to climate change, the ecosystems below face new challenges and opportunities for research. This diverse team, including engineers, marine biologists, optical scientists, and Arctic researchers from Norway, the US, and UK, brings crucial expertise to tackle the complexities of Arctic research. Hybrid Glider Technology These hybrid gliders can traverse vast distances beneath the ice with advanced sensors adapted for harsh polar conditions. Operating autonomously allows gathering critical data without the environmental impact of traditional ship-based research. The primary goal is establishing an international network harnessing these gliders to investigate under-ice light conditions and ecological impacts. This network aims to enhance scientific understanding while pioneering environmentally-friendly technologies. Mapping Light Dynamics and Demonstrating Potential Mapping under-ice light dynamics will inform climate models. The project also demonstrates gliders' potential to reduce the need for larger, costlier research vessels, elevating Svalbard's status as an Arctic research hub. However, deploying gliders presents challenges like sensor optimization, autonomy, and data management. The collected data will provide insights for policymakers on Arctic conservation strategies. Environmentally Conscious Arctic Research By embracing innovative autonomous technologies, this project expands our under-ice ecosystem understanding while inspiring environmentally-conscious research methods. The insights could shape future approaches to studying and preserving this vulnerable region, setting new standards for ecological studies in extreme environments.

The Arctic Ocean is changing rapidly, and the areas beneath the sea ice are among the least understood on the planet. This project aims to transform our ability to study this environment by developing a new research network that will use cutting-edge autonomous underwater vehicles called hybrid gliders. These gliders can travel for long distances and operate safely near the underside of ice, offering an unprecedented opportunity to gather data on light conditions and their ecological impacts beneath the ice. Objectives -Create a lasting international research network focused on using hybrid gliders to study under-ice ecosystems, particularly around Svalbard. -Demonstrate hybrid glider technology 'in the field', helping scientists understand its capabilities and informing engineers of scientists' research needs. -Seek major funding to launch a comprehensive Arctic research program using hybrid gliders to collect critical data that's currently challenging and risky to obtain. Critical R&D Challenges -Adapting sensors: Existing sensors designed for measuring light and ocean conditions need to be optimized for use on long-duration, under-ice missions. -Improving glider autonomy: Ensuring the gliders can navigate safely under the ice, make intelligent decisions, and reliably return to the surface for data transmission in a dynamic environment. -Data handling: Developing effective systems to process and interpret the large amounts of data collected during long-range missions. Interdisciplinary Approach: This project unites engineers, Arctic marine experts, optical scientists, and researchers from Norway, the US, UK, and beyond, creating a unique and powerful problem-solving team.

Funding scheme:

SSF-Svalbard Science Forum

Thematic Areas and Topics

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