News

Sydney Science Forum - The Blue Future: The robotic exploration of the oceans



11 April 2011

Robots are revolutionising how we explore our oceans. Find out what this new era of ocean exploration means when Professor Tony Haymet, Director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, USA, presents his free public talk 'The Blue Future: The robotic exploration of the oceans' as part of the Sydney Science Forum on Wednesday 20 April 2011.

Oceans are often forgotten in climate change discussions, but they are the planet's heat sink and crucial in controlling the climate we experience on earth. About 50% of the oxygen we breathe is made by microbes in the oceans, so understanding the functioning of the oceans and the organisms within them is critical.

Hear Professor Tony Haymet, Director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, talk about the robotic revolution in ocean research at his free public talk 'The Blue Future: The robotic exploration of the oceans', part of the Sydney Science Forum on Wednesday 20 April 2011.
Hear Professor Tony Haymet, Director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, talk about the robotic revolution in ocean research at his free public talk 'The Blue Future: The robotic exploration of the oceans', part of the Sydney Science Forum on Wednesday 20 April 2011.

Studying the oceans has been limited by their sheer vastness and our inability to easily access them, but this is set to change over the next decade with robotic exploration of the oceans.

Professor Tony Haymet will introduce his Institution's innovative work on sea and air robots and explain how this research will lead to a whole new era of robotic exploration of our blue planet, ultimately enhancing our understanding of factors influencing the earth's atmosphere, climate and biodiversity.

"The oceans are changing faster than science is keeping pace with currently, but a new era of robotic exploration means extensive exploration of the ocean - as well as the sky and solid earth - is no longer prohibitively expensive," said Professor Haymet.

"People are capable of amazing technical feats and ingenuity, so the fact that our oceans remain largely unexplored underscores disparities in where we have chosen to invest our energies.

"For example, sometimes I feel the science that's talked about in climate change discussions is from 1965. The word 'ocean' is barely mentioned in the United Nations climate change negotiating documents, and most international policy and media focus is on greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, especially carbon dioxide. There is a real tyranny of the atmosphere when people consider climate change," said Professor Haymet.

"Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere inevitably dissolves into the ocean and the amount of carbon in the ocean has increased by 30% over the last 150 years. This unnatural change in ocean chemistry is harmful for organisms that have calcium carbonate shells, and everything that eats them."

Hear Professor Haymet explain what the Scripps Institution of Oceanography is doing about filling in the gaps in our ocean knowledge and how they are using robotic technology across their research programs.

The Spray is an underwater glider developed by Scripps scientists and their collaborators, which takes long-term ocean measurements often over several months. The Spray is versatile because it is small enough to be deployed from small boats close to shore while still being able to carry a variety of sensors. Photo credit: Robert Todd, Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
The Spray is an underwater glider developed by Scripps scientists and their collaborators, which takes long-term ocean measurements often over several months. The Spray is versatile because it is small enough to be deployed from small boats close to shore while still being able to carry a variety of sensors. Photo credit: Robert Todd, Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography is 108 years old, and now part of the University of California San Diego, USA, and is one of the oldest, largest, and most important centres for research in physical oceanography, marine biology, the atmosphere and earth science.

As co-founder of CleanTECH San Diego - a business organisation devoted to creating companies and finding climate change solutions - Professor Haymet will also touch on some of his work with CleanTECH San Diego in this talk.

The Faculty of Science at the University of Sydney is very pleased to welcome Professor Haymet back for this public talk: he gained his Bachelor of Science (Honours) and Doctor of Science from the University of Sydney and was a previous staff member in the School of Chemistry as Professor and Chair of Theoretical Chemistry from 1991 until 1998.

Sydney Science Forum - The Blue Future: The robotic exploration of the oceans

Date: Wednesday 20 April 2011
Time: 5:45pm - 6:45pm
Location: Eastern Avenue Auditorium, University of Sydney
Cost: Free
Bookings:http://sydney.nicheit.com.au/science/science_forum/


Contact: Katynna Gill

Phone: 02 9351 6997

Email: 3d571f3d360909493d5b5f3a34180e4f06012b5f3623006d545a