Technological advancement and democratisation of ocean observing systems

Malcolm Hearn (BODC), Andrew David Thaler (Virginia Institute of Marine Science, OpenROV), Luisa Cristini (NOC)

Ocean observing systems (e.g. ships, moorings, satellites) have been an integral part of marine science for a long time.  Current observational programs are now utilizing a variety of relatively novel autonomous surface and underwater vehicles (e.g. gliders, Autosub). Platforms such as these have the capability to make sustained and cost effective measurements, often in extreme environments (e.g. high latitudes and deep oceans) and at times of the year that might be off limits to more traditional research vessels.  Sensors are now available that can make measurements in situ that previously would have required laboratory analysis. Miniaturisation of hardware is also enabling the deployment of multiple sensors on relatively small platforms for extended periods of time. 

The decreasing cost of electronics is making some emergent technologies, such as MicroROVs, aerial drones and open source instrumentation, more accessible to a growing cohort of ocean stakeholders. This in turn is making it easier to fund and execute research, conservation, and monitoring programs in regions where funding or access to resources may be limited e.g. developing countries. At the same time systems and software are being engineered to integrate instruments, platforms and observational programs allowing dynamic, near real-time delivery of data and products to scientists, industry and government. The challenge is how best to develop and employ these new technologies to meet the needs of science and society. The purpose of the session is to help communicate the state of the art and to identify future drivers for development. To this effect contributions are invited on technology development, advances in methods for data acquisition and processing and examples of how these systems are helping us deliver both cutting edge science and services to the wider world.