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Hobart gains new oceanographic technology

  • 25 August 2014
  • Written by 
  • Published in Biology

Australia's national science agency CSIRO has announced a new class oceanographic research instrument, TRIAXUS, has touched down in Hobart.

The TRIAXUS will be part of the suite of onboard equipment on Australia’s new Marine National Facility research vessel, Investigator, CSIRO explained in a statement today.

The instrument is made from carbon fibre, hydrodynamically designed to be towed up to 3km behind the ship and to collect data quickly, while 'flying' from the surface down to 350m.

The Executive Director of the Future Research Vessel Project, Toni Moate, said the equipment is vital to the work of oceanographers.

Biological oceanographers will use it to collect data on phytoplankton, salinity, temperature and light levels, to determine the health of the ocean.

Physical oceanographers will use the TRIAXUS to collect data about ocean currents descending undersea canyons, or when cooler waters are forced to the surface by ocean dynamics.

Data from the TRIAXUS will also be used by meteorologists to improve weather and climate forecasting.

“The scientists onboard Investigator will be able to control the flight path of the TRIAXUS, to develop a 2D picture of the ocean across hundreds of kilometres,” Moate said.

Dr Lindsay Pender from the Future Research Vessel Project Technical Team said it is critical to understand how the ocean interplays with the production of phytoplankton.

“The TRIAXUS will be used to estimate the amount of phytoplankton (small floating plants), which are the start of the food chain in the oceans,” Pender said.

“The equipment collects the data by shining a blue light onto the phytoplankton, which then emits a fluorescent signal.”

“The returning fluorescent signal is measured by a fluorometer mounted on the TRIAXUS, and these data are used to determine where fish and other animals in the ocean start their lives, and the location of their food sources.”

The TRIAXUS was purchased for $400,000 from MacArtney Australia.

"The TRIAXUS is developed for high-speed oceanographic data acquisition work, and is designed to undulate between 1 and 350 metres," MacArtney said on its website.

"Lateral offsets of up to 80 metres to either side of the ship is possible, enabling the vertical profiling to be carried out in an undisturbed water column."

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