Ocean Infinity, the next generation seabed survey and ocean exploration company, is pleased to announce that it is supporting The Weddell Sea Expedition, which is providing new scientific insight into one of the coldest and most remote regions of the world.
The focus of the expedition is the scientific investigation of the Larsen C Ice Shelf in the Weddell Sea. Ocean Infinity is providing the Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) and Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle (ROV) technology which will enable measurement of a range of important physical and biological parameters beneath the ice shelf and the sea-ice. The data collected will provide information on the little-studied biological systems of this extreme environment, and together with above-ice measurements, contribute to the understanding of sea-ice conditions in the Weddell Sea and the implications for ocean currents and climate change.
The S.A. Agulhas II, one of the largest and most modern polar research vessels in the world, has been specially configured to provide the operating platform for Ocean Infinity’s state-of-the-art AUVs and the ROV, as well as marine sediment corers, sea water sampling systems and airborne drones.
Depending on ice conditions and the timing of the completion of the scientific research, there are also plans to use the AUVs and the ROV to search for the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance, which was crushed by sea ice and sank in the Weddell Sea in 1915.
Oliver Plunkett, Ocean Infinity’s CEO, said: “We are very pleased to be supporting the Weddell Sea Expedition and to use our innovative technology to help collate more vital information regarding climate change through the most detailed and advanced studies ever conducted on the state of the ice shelf. The expedition remains cautious about its ability to get to the site of the wreck of Endurance, given the sea ice conditions, but the possibility of capturing images of a ship as iconic and significant as Endurance adds a thrilling historic dimension to what is first and foremost a scientific expedition.”
Polar geographer and environmental scientist Dr John Shears, who is leading the expedition, said: “This is the first time an expedition of this scale will use such advanced technology to investigate and explore one of the most remote, and least studied, places on our planet. By bringing together a group of world-leading glaciologists, marine biologists, oceanographers and marine archaeologists on board the Agulhas II, we will be able to gain invaluable scientific data on the region and enhance the world’s understanding of the Weddell Sea.”