New Delhi (ISJ): Indian and Australian scientists plan to launch bio-robots to study large-scale changes in the chemistry and biology of marine ecosystems below the Indian Ocean. The robots named 'Agro Floats' will be launched in mid-2014 in Bay of Bengal and the waters of north Western Australia. Agro floats are a network of 3600 free-floating sensors, operating in open ocean areas that provide real-time data on ocean temperature and salinity. National Institute of Oceanography and the National Centre for Ocean Information Services are collaborating for the project with Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), national science agency of Australia. "We expect the technology being utilised in this project to provide new insights into biogeochemistry of the India Ocean," said SWA Naqvi, Director of National Institute of Oceanography, Panaji, Goa. Indian Ocean contains vast fisheries and mineral resources that are of strategic importance to both India and Australia. It also plays a direct role in driving climates of its surrounding regions, home to more than 16 per cent of the world's population. "By studying the Indian Ocean in this detail, we can investigate the origin and impact of marine heatwaves like the one that devastated the coral reefs and fisheries off north Western Australian in 2011 ? and improve our prediction of them in the future," remarked Dr Hardman-Mountford of CSIRO. The new 'Bio Argo' floats will enhance the already successful Argo float technology to measure large-scale changes in the chemistry and biology of marine ecosystems below the Indian Ocean's surface. It will include additional sensors for dissolved oxygen, nitrate, chlorophyll, dissolved organic matter, and particle scattering. The floating sensors will dive to different depths and send data through satellite. "By combining the research capabilities of India and Australia we will see an improved ability to predict and prepare for global climate change, as well as better conservation of marine biodiversity," said Dr Nick D'Adamo, Head of the Perth Programme Office supporting UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) ? a partner in the project. The 1 million dollar project is funded in part by the Australian Government under the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund.
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