by Kate Wing, Friends of Ocean Action & David Millar, Americas, Fugro & Aaron Roan, Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory
Most of us picture the ocean as its surface – a field of blue waves stretching out to the horizon. But, like our human lives on land, ocean life lives in three dimensions, diving deeper than our tallest mountains and travelling thousands of miles in the course of a year.
The ocean is the ultimate connector in ways both large and small: currents carrying nutrients and oxygen from the poles to the coastlines; absorbing 30% of carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere; ships transporting 90% of global goods; and, fibre-optic cables on the seafloor linking the worldwide web. Many of these connections remained invisible until the technological innovations of the last century made it easier and cheaper to explore and measure the sea.
Using oceanographic sensors on landers, buoys, ships, satellites, drones and autonomous underwater vehicles, we can now gather as much data about the ocean in one year as in the last one hundred years.