How do we unlock the mysteries of the deep, unexplored ocean remains?
Answered by Robert B. Gagosian
  • Robert B. Gagosian

    Robert B. Gagosian

  1. Robert B. Gagosian President & CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership


    We have explored about 5 to 7 percent of the ocean floor and about a half a percent of the ocean itself. In the deep ocean, it is even less. Part of it is because it is so hard to get to. I am somewhat optimistic that we will be learning more and more because of robotics -- the autonomous vehicles that are out there are really quite extraordinary. There is a program called the ARGO Project. There are 3000 the floats that go up and down the ocean everyday collecting data, mostly temperature data.

    They were designed for global warming studies, and about every 10 days, they came up to the top of the surface and send the data back and go down again. I think it is pre-programmed and they can be programmed when they come up to the surface by satellites. There is pretty extraordinary when you think about 3000 all over the world's oceans. They are designed to last about five years. That is not very long, but as the technology gets better and better, we are going to be able to do more and so I am pretty optimistic about the ability to take a quantum leap in our understanding of the ocean water as new sensors come on board in the future. The countries are creating more and more of these observatories.

    At Ocean Leadership, we manage the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI), which is really quite extraordinary. It is a $400 million major construction project and what it will do is create four global sites in the Eastern North Pacific, the Western North Atlantic, off of Chile and off of Argentina. These are the areas where the major systems occur with respect to watching and monitoring climate change. These are not one or two moorings, there are series of moorings and they'll have buoys attached to them. They have a lot of instrumentation on them, but in addition, they'll have robotic vehicles and autonomous vehicles that will go up and down from the ocean surface down to the bottom. They will power up in these garages and send their data back and then go off, much like a Mars lander. So it is pretty exciting, this new technology that is being developed that will afford us this opportunity to have a window to the oceans and the oceans' changes.

    There will be sites off the coast, one off of Northwest that will be a cabled observatory. So if you experiment, you can plug into that, and it will also be a great earthquake monitoring system for the Northwest.

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