Orca, a robotic glider from the University of East Anglia in Norwich England has recently made it’s 1000th dive off the coast of Spain.
The underwater robot can operate autonomously or be controlled by satellite and is being used to monitor water conditions such as temperature, salt levels, cloudiness and current.
A team led by Dr Jan Kaiser and Professor Karen Heywood from the University of East Anglia has partnered with the Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas in Vigo to undertake this project.
The glider rises or sinks using a buoyancy engine with internal and external reservoirs and an electric pump to move oil between the two, which changes its density. We control it all the way from Norwich, by sending commands via Iridium satellite communications. ‘Orca’ has already clocked up more than 1000 dives on its current mission.
Off the west coast of the Iberian peninsula, upwelling of deep waters is a recurring phenomenon in summer and our current glider mission will provide one of the most detailed studies to date of the changes in the water column during and after an upwelling event. Upwelling brings nutrients to the surface, which are vital to sustaining biological production and fish yields, an important factor in Vigo, Europe’s largest fishing port.
You can see a map and plot points of where Orca has been diving here.