If you’re already in the habit of logging your dives, take a second look and see if you’ve written down water temperatures. Scientist’s in the UK are asking for your help in recording subsurface ocean temperatures, through their citizen science website Dive Into Science.
Satellites can measure surface temperature when there are no clouds, but getting data from below the surface is much harder and more expensive. “The potential of scuba divers to contribute to ocean monitoring is huge and I believe that this study demonstrates only the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
Currently, a flotilla of 3,000 diving robot buoys provides measurements, but millions of recreational and commercial divers around the world could also play a role. A study, published in Science Reports on Friday, shows that measurements taken from the decompression computers often worn by divers can provide accurate data on ocean temperatures.
Kieran Hyder at Cefas, who led the citizen science project, said: “To undertake a global science programme that could generate this information would be hugely expensive, but there are millions of sport and commercial dives every year. Making use of just a small fraction of those dives will greatly increase our knowledge of what is happening worldwide.
The scientists have already collected more than 7,500 dive records from around the world via the Dive Into Science website.The new data is particularly valuable in highly changeable coastal environments, where many dives occur, as well as in areas that are rarely sampled by other methods.
According to the Dive Into Science project, which is funded by the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: “This extra data could prove crucial in the efforts to understand and predict the effects of our changing climate.”
Other researchers have investigated the ability of tagging marine creatures to provide temperature and other data. The creatures could include penguins and seals and the latter could be especially useful due to their deep dives. [The Guardian]