Volvo Ocean Race sailors deploy robotic floats for climate science research
The Southern Ocean plays a major role in regulating Earth's climate, since it is a major absorber, or "sink" of carbon emissions and heat from the atmosphere. In addition, powerful ocean currents that help transport heat worldwide are powered in part by processes that take place in this area, which surrounds Antarctica. Yet despite its outsized importance in the climate system, we may know more about the surface of Mars than we do about this part of our home planet.
The U.S. is currently taking part in a five-year multimillion dollar research effort to fill in some of the gaps in this climatologically-important region, and this week, and on Monday, scientists got some unusual help from competitors in the risky around-the-world Volvo Ocean Race.