Page 54: of Marine Technology Magazine (March 2015)
Oceanographic Instrumentation: Measurement, Process & Analysis
Seaf oor Mapping
Whitcomb and his post-doctoral student Christopher McFarland’s technical efforts on this ex- pedition focused on the development of NUI’s novel navigation, control, and acoustic telemetry systems, which were ? rst prototyped on the Homewood Campus with Whitcomb’s underwater testbed vehicle, the JHU ROV, in his Hydrodynamics Laboratory in Krieger Hall.
this comes closest to science ? ction,” says Whitcomb. The the front line of climate change. Rapidly melting glaciers, it is world ? rst became privy to this region in 2003, when geolo- believed, are contributing to sea level rise.
gist Henrietta Edmonds and collaborators published a foun- An ice-shelf is formed where a glacier slides into the sea and dational paper describing the evidence for the existence of melts from the sea bottom upward, causing a narrow wedge hydrothermal vents spanning the entire Arctic Ocean along of water to form between sea? oor and ice that can stretch the length of the Gakkel Ridge. More than a decade later, the hundreds of kilometers. Until now, the under-ice vehicles that
Gakkel Ridge has been visited by only a few expeditions and could venture into these areas have been limited in mobility remains an elusive target to study. Nereid holds the promise of and functionality, Whitcomb says. Their capabilities are ex- enabling scientists to have a closer look. cellent for hydrographic mapping and water-column surveys,
While Whitcomb and the Nereid team were aboard Po- but they are unable to perform near-ice and near-sea? oor op- larstern mostly to test their brand-new vehicle, someday Ne- tical imaging and intervention. Nereid, with its remarkable reid will virtually transport scientists to other places below the suite of scienti? c capabilities, will eventually change all that. ice—beneath the glacial ice shelves and under ice tongues of “You can’t safely put a human-occupied submarine under
Greenland, Antarctica, Alaska, and elsewhere. These expan- an ice shelf. It’s too dangerous. There’s no escape route. But sive features, which occur when glaciers meet seawater, are at it’s perfect for underwater robot vehicles. Nereid can go there,
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