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Boaty McBoatface Returns From Inaugural Mission In The Deep Ocean

29 June 2017, 8:23 am EDT By Katrina Pascual Tech Times
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Sir David Attenborough poses before the keel-laying ceremony of the polar research ship named after him and includes the submarine Boaty McBoatface.   ( Christopher Furlong | Getty Images )

Remember the robotic submarine Boaty McBoatface? The yellow submarine successfully completed its first voyage in one of the Earth’s deepest and coldest oceans, obtaining “unprecedented data” on the region.

Boaty McBoatface went as deep as more than 13,000 feet in a region of the Southern Ocean, about 500 miles from the Antarctic Peninsula.

Orkney Passage Mission

The submarine belongs to a research vessel called RRS Sir David Attenborough, named after the English naturalist and broadcaster. It started its journey mid-March, beginning in Antarctica before proceeding to the Southern Ocean.

It plunged to as far as 13,000 feet to get key information on the stream flow speed, temperature, as well as turbulence from Orkney Passage. The data will assist scientists in better understanding how mixing ocean waters affect climate change, the Guardian reported.

“The Orkney Passage is a key chokepoint to the flow of abyssal waters in which we expect the mechanism linking changing winds to abyssal water warming to operate,” explained University of Southampton’s Alberto Naveira Garabato in the report.

The goal, according to him, is to know more about the processes representing them in current models used for predicting how climate will change in the 21st century onward.

Boaty brought researchers a hefty amount of unprecedented information, where previously they were able to take measurements only from a fixed point in the underwater landscape.

The submarine is part of a seven-week expedition, where it transmits collected data to scientists through a radio link.

Naming Controversy

The research vessel made international headlines in 2016 when the United Kingdom government conducted an online poll to name it. “Boaty McBoatface” emerged as the most popular entry, collecting 124,000 votes.

Authorities then decided to name it RRS Sir David Attenborough, saying it would have the final say on the $244 million ship. This created a series of protests from the winning name’s supporters, so after much talk, they then decided to give the Boaty name to the vessel’s submarine.

The Boaty name was first proposed by former BBC radio presenter James Hand, responding to the public poll by the National Environment Research Council (NERC).

For Attenborough’s part, it was a huge honor to see the vessel named after him.

“People take the names of their ships quite seriously,” he said. “I served in the navy at the end of the late 1940s and we cared about the name of our ship.”

Boaty’s mission, after all, is not one to be taken lightly, as it revolves around how climate change moves and changes over time. In 2019, it will be provided with acoustic and chemical sensors and deployed into the North Sea for scouring signals linked to artificial release of gas under the sea bed.

It is also planned to cross the Arctic Ocean under ice for the first time in this critical region.

Scientists reported a massive melting event in West Antarctica, warning it could be a sign of problems to come if climate change is not tackled immediately.

Last year, they reported a major melting occurrence in the Ross Ice Shelf, the largest ice shelf on Earth. The event resulted from warmer air brought about by the El Niño phenomenon and leading to an area of melted water larger than Texas.

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