Royal Navy subs to supply data on climate change
Royal Navy submarines are to play a potentially pivotal role helping map the effects of climate change deep under water in the world's coldest environment.
Very little is currently known about the areas of water beneath the ice of the Arctic as sensors for long-term monitoring are notoriously difficult to place.
However, submarines, including those based at Devonport, routinely travel through these remote areas and now the information that crews gather will be made available to scientists.
Tim Clarke, a marine scientist at the Ministry of Defence's Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), said it would make a big difference.
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"What this represents is the availability of important scientific data, previously inaccessible, which can only move the study forward," he said.
"The MoD is excited by this project since it puts UK researchers at the forefront of climate change science.
"Any progress will, ultimately, lead to an improved oceanographic product for Royal Navy operations."
Information which will now be shared includes materials commonly collected by vessels, such as water temperature and salt content of the ocean.
The dataset, from an unnamed UK submarine mission, is set to provide a snapshot of conditions under the ice and is said to be one of the few clues available for the last two decades on the changes taking place in the Arctic.
To process the information, the DSTL will work with the Natural Environment Research Council and the UK Hydrographic Office, which is based in Taunton, to prepare the data for researchers.
The information gathered will be handed over to academics at National Oceanography Centre, where researcher John Allen said it would provide clues on the impact of climate change in the Arctic.
"We're delighted that this information will be available and thank each of the organisations who have been instrumental in releasing this data," he said.
"It's really important to have this information as it will enable us to clearly measure the changes which have occurred in recent years, which is paramount for the accuracy, wider impact and legacy of global environmental science research."