Story at a glance

  • The Global Ocean Biogeochemistry Array project will deploy 500 robotic floats across the world’s oceans.
  • The biochemical floats drift through the ocean and change depth at different intervals to collect data.
  • Researchers are aiming at better monitoring the health of the oceans.

A team of researchers is deploying a fleet of robotic ocean-monitoring floats across the world’s oceans to better understand and monitor their health. 

The Global Ocean Biogeochemistry Array (GO-BGC) project will use 500 robotic floats equipped with a range of sensors to collect data on the chemistry and biology of the ocean. 


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The biochemical floats drift through the ocean and change depth at different intervals to collect data. The robots descend to a depth of about 3,280 feet for five to 10 days before diving about 6,561 feet and then returning to the surface. 

The devices dive and surface by pumping oil from inside the float to an external bladder and back to change its buoyancy. 

“The ocean is extremely important to the climate, to the sustainability of the earth, its supply of food, protein to enormous numbers of people. We don’t monitor it very well,” Ken Johnson, GO-BGC project director and senior scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), said, according to Reuters.  

The data collected by the array will then be transmitted to satellites and “will be made freely available within a day” to research institutions and schools all around the world. 

The floats have been used in the Antarctic Ocean for years and the GO-BGC project just began deploying the devices in the western North Atlantic in March. The project includes scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, the University of Washington, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Princeton University.


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Published on Apr 21, 2021