Studying the parts of the ocean you can’t see

Josh
Josh Pennell
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Anh Dao Le with the Institute for Environmental Science at the University of Geneva is one of the scientists on the crew on the PlanetSolar ship Tûranor.
— Photo by Josh Pennell/The Telegram

Anh Dao Le with the Institute for Environmental Science at the University of Geneva is one of the scientists making up the crew of the Tûranor, the solar boat that could be seen tied to the wharf in

St. John’s harbour recently. The unique ship is the floating laboratory for the PlanetSolar DeepWater expedition, a research mission gathering data on the climate-regulating Gulf Stream.

Le is responsible for the oceanographic instruments on board the vessel.

She says that one such instrument measures certain parameters at the water’s surface — salinity, temperature, pressure, oxygen, light and conductivity.

A second instrument is what Le refers to as a current profiler and it measures the current from the surface down to about 150 metres.

A third instrument does vertical profiling of the water column, measuring things such as temperature and salinity at various depths.

Le says the crew then try and determine the difference of the water at the surface compared to hundreds of metres down.

The crew will also look at the differences across horizontal distances, collecting data as they travel across the Atlantic.

One of the most unique parts of their expedition, according to Le, is that they will be studying the makeup of the atmosphere and then interpreting the connection between the water column and the air column above it. Considering the Tûranor is solar powered and has no emissions, it’s much more effective to get a true reading of the air column than off other vessels.

The research team had originally planned to head further north along a route to Iceland and Norway. They will now make a transatlantic crossing when they leave St. John’s.

josh.pennell@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Institute for Environmental Science, University of Geneva

Geographic location: Atlantic, Iceland, Norway

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