As the Earth’s oceans face escalating temperatures, resulting in extreme weather events on land, the mysteries beneath the waves remain largely unexplored. Surprisingly, over 80% of these vast bodies of water remain unmapped and unobserved, leaving oceanographers with an incomplete understanding of crucial phenomena. Hence, ocean exploration becomes crucial. Although underwater robots, surface sonars, and satellites have offered some insights into the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on ocean dynamics, much remains unknown due to the lack of comprehensive data.
Among the intriguing puzzles is the enigmatic disappearance of a massive chunk of sea ice in the Antarctic Ocean, roughly the size of Argentina, during June, which reached record lows. Numerous factors have been considered by experts to explain this phenomenon, including higher atmospheric temperatures, changes in winds affecting Saharan dust levels over the Atlantic, reduced sulfur dioxide emissions from ships, and the influence of El Nino conditions in the Pacific Ocean during ocean exploration.
While climate scientists have made accurate predictions about heatwaves on land, the unpredictability of extreme ocean events has left them baffled. Anomalies in sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic raised concerns when they surpassed any levels recorded since satellite observations began in 1979.
The need for more data on ocean dynamics has led oceanographers to develop the Argo program, featuring robotic floats that drift freely with ocean currents, diving 2,000 meters underwater every 10 days to gather vital information. These Deep Argo floats now aim to explore the depths of the oceans, but challenges remain due to the extreme conditions. The researchers’ efforts have already led to discoveries in less-explored corners of the planet’s underwater realm, such as the Australia-Antarctic basin.
However, the deployment of these advanced floats requires substantial funding, as they are two to three times more costly than regular ones. Nevertheless, the urgency to understand and address the climate crisis has brought attention to the significance of exploring the deep seas. For oceanographers like Nathalie Zilberman, who was inspired by Jacques Cousteau documentaries as a child, the challenges and excitement associated with exploring the uncharted depths continue to drive their quest for knowledge. As they embark on this underwater exploration, the hope is to shed light on the mysteries of the oceans and comprehend their crucial role in the global climate system.