Australian scientists attached a camera to a ROV (remotely operated vehicle) deployed under the sea ice at O’Brien Bay, near Casey research station in East Antarctica.
The footage the robot explorer captured gives a rare glimpse into the Antarctic underwater world.
The robot was retrieving a SeapHox pH data logger, which has been recording the acidity, oxygen, salinity and temperature of seawater on an hourly basis since November last year.
Scientists are only just beginning to understand the biodiversity and complexity of the Antarctic near-shore ecosystem and the threats it is facing into the future.
The Australian Antarctic Program project is the final field component of an experiment designed to determine the impact of ocean acidification on Southern Ocean sea-floor under increasing carbon dioxide emissions.
A quarter of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean which increases its acidity.
Antarctica may be one of the first places where the detrimental effects of ocean acidification are measured.
Australian Antarctic Division PhD student James Black says the ROV was deployed through a small hole drilled in the sea ice and also collected diatoms and sediment.
Scientists will study the effect of ocean acidification on these communities in laboratories at the Division’s headquarters in Tasmania.
“Even small shifts in the timing of sea ice breakout can alter the composition of communities in these shallow coastal waters so we’re seeking to understand what other impacts there may be in an acidifying ocean,” Black said.
Chris Pash, Business Insider Australia, 21 December 2016. Full article and video.