Antarctica has today become home to a new subsea observatory providing near real-time ocean data, year-round, thanks to a new partnership between Canada and Spain scientists.
Graphic rendering of the new subsea observatory at the Spanish Antarctic Station, a partnership between Ocean Networks Canada and the Spanish National Research Council. Credit: Ocean Networks Canada.
This partnership between Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), a University of Victoria initiative, and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) will advance scientific understanding of one of the most under-observed parts of the planet, the Southern Ocean, or the Antarctic Ocean.
Data is now flowing from the observatory located offshore of the Spanish Antarctic Station (BAE), Juan Carlos I, located on Livingston Island in the South Shetlands Archipelago that is north of the Antarctic Peninsula. Installation of the observatory, brought forward by favourable weather conditions, was carried out by CSIC today.
Spanish Antarctic Station staff installing the ONC observatory offshore from Juan Carlos I. Credit: Didac Casado, UTM-CSIC.
ONC president and CEO Kate Moran says this observatory marks a tremendous milestone in polar scientific collaboration.
“Ocean Networks Canada has been monitoring Arctic conditions since 2012 through its network of Indigenous community-led and remote coastal observatories that provide continuous ocean data, available to all,” she says.
“ONC’s expertise in designing and successfully operating underwater observatories able to withstand harsh polar conditions will contribute to Spain’s scientific expertise in monitoring Antarctica, a continent that is critical to this planet’s climate system, and is undergoing rapid, consequential changes that we need to understand.”
Further contributing to ONC’s monitoring of Antarctica is the planned deployment of two ONC deep-sea Argo floats in the Drake Passage in the Southern Ocean. The Spanish polar research vessel Hespérides is scheduled to depart the Argentina port at Ushuaia this week and carry out the deployment enroute to reach BAE Juan Carlos I in Antarctica.
“This partnership with Ocean Networks Canada will provide vital ocean science data in the Southern Ocean, not least because the new observatory will operate year-round outside of the station’s staffed summer months,” says Jordi Sorribas Cervantes, director of the Unit of Marine Technology of the CSIC.
“Having access to this near-continuous data, from anywhere in the world, will help meet the current data gap challenge in the Southern Ocean.”
Explore the data that started flowing into the Oceans 3.0 portal on the ONC website today.
Data plot showing data flowing from the new observatory. Credit: Ocean Networks Canada
The cabled seafloor observatory is in a small embayment called Johnsons Dock at a depth of 23 metres. The coordinates of the platform are at Lat -62.657490 Lon -60.367700. Modelled on one of ONC’s Arctic observatories at Gascoyne Inlet, it uses the Iridium satellite network to transmit the data every 30 minutes to ONC for processing, archival and distribution.
Instrumentation on the observatory includes a CTD scientific instrument that measures conductivity, temperature and depth. Additional sensors track dissolved oxygen concentrations as well as optical properties including turbidity and chlorophyll-a that are important for monitoring seawater quality at this location where freshwater glacier melt and ocean water meet.
This new observatory will help address the recent call from scientists around the world for the urgent need to monitor the Southern Ocean. In a joint statement released at the 2023 Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS) Symposium, 300 scientists from 25 nations said that “the chronic lack of observations for the Southern Ocean challenges our ability to detect and assess the consequences of change.”
Polar Knowledge Canada (POLAR) manages Canada’s scientific contributions and commitments to the Antarctic Treaty. David Hik, POLAR chief scientist and executive director, says this new partnership between Spain and Canada marks an important milestone in advancing ocean monitoring.
“We are delighted that ONC is contributing its expertise and infrastructure to Antarctica and Southern Ocean research to advance knowledge as well as Canadian leadership in polar science and technology.”
The research partnership aligns with UVic’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and with its strengths in climate action, life below water, life on land, and sustainable cities and communities. Learn more about UVic’s climate leadership at uvic.ca/IMPACT.
“It’s exciting to see ONC’s transformative leadership in ocean science expand internationally to inform climate solutions beyond Canada’s three coasts,” says Lisa Kalynchuk, vice-president, research and innovation, at UVic and member of ONC’s board of directors. “This partnership demonstrates how coastal communities and scientists from around the world can drive technological innovation and scientific discovery.”
Visit our Antarctica Media Kit for images and videos being added by our partners at BAE Juan Carlos I.
The Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) is the largest public research institution in Spain and one of the most renowned institutions in the European Research Area. The CSIC’s Unit of Marine Technology Unit manages the Spanish Antarctic station Juan Carlos I and Camp Byers on Livingston Island, and also coordinates the overall logistics of the Spanish Antarctic campaign.
Header image credit: Didac Casado, UTM-CSIC
Kate Moran (President and CEO, Ocean Networks Canada) at 250-812-1575 or email@example.com
Robyn Meyer (Ocean Networks Canada) at 250-588-4053 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Jordi Sorribas Cervantes (Spanish National Research Council) at email@example.com
CSIC Communication Department at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Kwan (University Communications + Marketing) at email@example.com