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Researchers want to attach cheap sensors to sailboats and other vessels to collect data on the impact of climate change on the world's oceans.
11th September, 2014
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The ocean is vast—so huge that scientists struggle to collect adequate amounts of data on its health, even with the aid of satellites, autonomous robots, and networked buoys.

Now scientists are proposing a simple solution to the data-gathering challenges on the seven seas: ask sailors for help.

That would mean attaching cheap sampling instruments to sailboats, yachts, or cargo vessels. The data collected would help scientists craft more accurate climate change computer models, make more precise weather forecasts, or even find planes lost at sea.

“Our idea is to take the cheap instrumentation that’s already available and put them on sailboats that are already going out into the ocean,” said Joseph Grzymski, an associate research professor of computational biology and microbiology at Nevada's Desert Research Institute and coauthor of a new paper published in the journal PLOS Biology.

Grzymski said that most oceanographic research happens in the top 330 feet of the ocean, which is the most biologically dynamic part of the sea and also has the most contact with the atmosphere.

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