Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Science Technology

New Sub Dives To Crushing Depths 245

University of Washington Scientists are reporting that they have a new autonomous underwater vehicle that increases both the attainable depth and duration of deployment over current submersibles. Weighing in at just under 140 pounds, the "Deepglider" is able to stay out to sea for up to a year and hit depths of almost 9,000 feet. "Deepglider opens up new research possibilities for oceanographers studying global climate change. The glider's first trip revealed unexpected warming of water near the ocean floor, and scientists are interested in studying whether the temperatures are related to global warming."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

New Sub Dives To Crushing Depths

Comments Filter:
  • This is interesting (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 26, 2007 @03:18PM (#18156936)
    The oceans have always been a mystery to man, even in modern times. The fact that we can reach the summit of the highest point on Earth is wonderful, but we can't say the same about the ocean. It's been a theory of mine that if there are aliens on this planet that they would be at the bottom of the sea. Think about it, if they studied the planet they'd realise its mostly water. Ever seen The Abyss?

    AC because mods piss me off.
  • by Jerry ( 6400 ) on Monday February 26, 2007 @03:18PM (#18156946)
    you tie your pet project to Global Warming.

    Doesn't matter how, just as long as you don't attempt to prove it wrong.
  • by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <slashdot@@@pitabred...dyndns...org> on Monday February 26, 2007 @03:25PM (#18157056) Homepage
    Who the hell modded this troll? It's insightful! The water is deep in the ocean, closer to the earth's core... or does geothermal heat not exist in the mod's world?
  • by brendanoconnor ( 584099 ) on Monday February 26, 2007 @03:29PM (#18157122)
    I find it extremely unlikely that global warming is having any effect on the ocean floor. Head a mile off the coast of the pacific and swim down 20 feat. You'll notice a couple of things. One, it gets dark very quickly; meaning light doesn't get to travel far. Two, it gets very cold very fast; meaning the heat from the sun is not penetrating all that deeply.

    To keep this on topic, cool submersible though. It would be incredible to really explore the very depths of the ocean just to see what kind of life we find. I'm sure there are many secrets waiting to be discovered.

  • Re:Error in article? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by arhines ( 620963 ) on Monday February 26, 2007 @03:43PM (#18157332) Homepage
    Yes, the article appears to be unclear on this. What they mean is that in a traditional glider, the compressibility will be either larger or smaller than that of seawater. In either of these cases, maintaining a steady rate of descent requires more ballast pumping to readjust the buoyancy. These gliders have isopycnal hulls, which have very close to the same compressibility of seawater, and thus require very little ballast pumping in order to maintain a constant glideslope.
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Monday February 26, 2007 @04:18PM (#18157800) Homepage Journal
    No, they made no such conclusion. They are only marking climate change as one possible explanation for differences between expected and measured values.

    Any physical oceanographer (my wife happens to be one) will tell you that ocean temperatures are a very complex phenomenon. If the surface temperature of the ocean increased, it wouldn't be seen any time soon as an across the board increase in deep ocean temperatures, because the ocean doesn't vertically mix much in any locality. Instead, surface currents carry energy great distances horizontally, eventually cooling and sinking to drive deep ocean return currents.

    Monitoring changes in deep ocean temperatures in many places is an interesting objective, because it might say a great deal about changes in ocean circulation patterns. The relationship between increased surface temperatures and deep ocean temperatures is more complex than it would be if temperatures simply diffuse downard. It is quite possible that in some places a global increase in surface temperature would cause temperatures to drop in some deep ocean localities.

    You can no more make conclusions about global climate change from a single deep ocean location than you can from a single surface weather station.

    IIRC, there already is robotic monitoring of deep ocean temperatures. Extending the reach of these programs will give us a more complete picture, which in turn can be used to validate or invalidate climate change scenarios. If you believe global warming is a sham, then obtaining a more complete picture is a good thing. It'll make faulty models harder to validate.

    AFAIK, the radiative cooling of the Earth is a relatively minor contributor to ocean temperatures; however by looking at changes in temperature, especially across many places, then it can be effectively factored out.

  • by nido ( 102070 ) <.moc.oohay. .ta. .65odin.> on Monday February 26, 2007 @05:18PM (#18158692) Homepage
    A good bit of any extra heat that is trapped in the atmosphere will go into the oceans.

    If the heat came from the atmosphere, wouldn't it be detected in surface temperatures? This story seems to indicated the reverse: A good bit of any extra heat that is trapped in the ocean will leak into the atmosphere.

    Heat from hydrothermal vents [udel.edu] and other underwater volcanic phenomena heats the ocean water. The Juan de Fuca Ridge is in the pacific ocean along the Washington coastline, so I think it likely that this process is what the scientists' sub has detected.
  • by Almost-Retired ( 637760 ) on Monday February 26, 2007 @05:19PM (#18158708) Homepage
    The oceans are indeed a mystery. We haven't studied them near as well as we have the land above, mainly becuase we humans are quite puny in comparison, and absolutely must have a ready supply of breathable air. Preferably at an ambient pressure of less than 100psi.

    The deepest we've ever been, and two guys lived through it, is actually deeper than Everest is tall, 37,800 feet to the bottom of the Marianas Trench off the Phillipines. The iron ball, 6 feet in diameter that they were in, suspended from the kerosene ballast tanks of the Navy's Trieste, was squeezed by the nominally 18kpsi pressure, enough to warp the frames of the equipment braces holding the controls and monitors for the tv cameras that I actually helped build back in about 1960. The Treiste ran everything in it and on it from big racks of Sears Die-Hard batteries, each of which had a heavy balloon with half a pint or so of battery acid in them, snapped over the neck of the cell, with a wire cage to keep them from being dislodged by water currents. They brought back a lot of pix of blind, eyeless fish from down there, and they turned the cameras around to look at the batteries once and found that all of the balloons had been driven into the batteries. So don't ever let anybody tell you that water is incompressible, it is at 18,000 psi. So is oil, we had filled the pan & tilt drives with motor oil, and layed a neoprene rubber gasket on the top, then drilled some holes in the cover to let the pressure in. There was about an inch of clearance to the closest gear. One gasket was cut thru, the other was damaged by the turning gears slicing into it but held.

    But the guys weren't in very good shape by the time it had surfaced and the gondola opened to let/get them out, so thats a trip they never repeated, and they were using state of the art air recycling gear. If something better has been invented now for that, I'm not aware of it. The danger of it imploding was very real, this was about 2x deeper than Alvin or its successor ilk have ever been. But then Alvin and company have access holes that can be opened, this ball didn't due to the pressure calcs saying they couldn't support it, so it was cut in half, and the seams epoxied together after the guys were inside, and it had to be removed somehow to get them back out. The Navy never said how they opened it once the epoxy was set.

    But, man being the curious thing that he is, if better tools can be made, I expect there will be ready volunteers to occupy the viewports for yet another trip into that abyss.

    Do you feel lucky? I think I'l stay up here, thank you...

    Cheers, gene

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain