Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) made the announcement, reported Xinhua.
The Indian Ocean contains vast fisheries and mineral resources that are of strategic importance to both Australia and India. It also plays a direct role in driving the climates of its surrounding regions — home to more than 16 percent of the world’s population.
CSIRO said the new “Bio Argo” floats, to be launched in mid 2014, will enhance the already successful Argo float technology to measure large-scale changes in the chemistry and biology of marine ecosystems below the Indian Ocean’s surface.
The Argo floats are a network of 3,600 free-floating sensors, operating in open ocean areas that provide real-time data on ocean temperature and salinity.
The “Bio Argo” floats will include additional sensors for dissolved oxygen, nitrate, chlorophyll, dissolved organic matter, and particle scattering.
They will target specific gaps in the understanding of Indian Ocean ecosystems of immediate concern to India and Australia, such as the Bay of Bengal and the waters of north Western Australia.
CSIRO’s Nick Hardman-Mountford said the pilot project, led by CSIRO in collaboration with the Indian National Institute of Oceanography (CSIR-NIO) and the Indian National Center for Ocean Information Services, will “improve our understanding of cause and effect in the Indian Ocean’s climate and ecosystems”.
“By studying the Indian Ocean in this detail, we can investigate the origin and impact of marine heatwaves like the one that devastated the coral reefs and fisheries off north Western Australian in 2011 — and improve our prediction of them in the future,” Hardman-Mountford said.
CSIR-NIO Director Wajih Naqvi said the novel technological innovation will give researchers from both countries a new understanding of the Indian Ocean.
The $880,000 project was funded in part by the Australian government under the Australia- India Strategic Research Fund.