26–27 September 2016 – more than 150 scientists and engineers from universities, research centres and businesses around the world will make their way to Southampton to take part in ‘Everyone’s Gliding Observatories’, the 7th international conference on autonomous ocean gliders and their applications.
During the last decade our capability to observe the oceans has been transformed by the development of robotic technologies. One of the most exciting developments has been the ocean glider. Guided by instructions relayed by satellites, ocean gliders navigate the seas for months at a time gathering data that are used to monitor and understand the changing state of the ocean.
“Ocean gliders are able to routinely measure an increasing variety of important parameters, from ocean temperature to chemical pollution to echo-locating marine mammals – this conference therefore provides a timely opportunity for us to share our experiences in this fast-moving field” says Prof Russell Wynn, Chief Scientist of the Marine Autonomous and Robotics Systems facility at the National Oceanography Centre.
One of the main themes of the meeting will be the role of gliders in the global ocean observing system. To monitor climatically important processes such as the uptake of heat and carbon dioxide by the oceans data from across the globe are needed. Today much of this data comes from sensors on profiling floats. “The worldwide fleet of Argo floats has enabled a huge step forward in our ability to quantify changes of the global ocean but there are still some gaps because we cannot control where the floats go” says Dr David Smeed, one of the conference organisers, “but ocean gliders that can navigate autonomously will allow us to fill those gaps”.
The NOC now hosts the largest and most diverse research fleet of marine autonomous systems in Europe, in purpose built facilities including the new Marine Robotics Innovation Centre, where marine businesses work alongside the NOC’s scientists and engineers.