Boaty McBoatface makes major climate change discovery on maiden outing

Laura Donnelly
Scientists say that data collected from the yellow submarines's first expedition will help them build more accurate predictions - Povl Abrahamsen /BAS /SWNS.COM

Boaty McBoatface’s maiden outing has made a major discovery about how climate change is causing rising sea levels. Scientists say that data collected from the yellow submarines's first expedition will help them build more accurate predictions in order to combat the problem.

The mission has uncovered a key process linking increasing Antarctic winds to higher sea temperatures, which in turn is fuelling increasing levels.

Researchers found that the increasing winds are cooling water on the bottom of the ocean, forcing it to travel faster, creating turbulance as it mixed with warmer waters above.

Experts said the mechanism has not been factored into current models for predicting the impact of increasing global temperatures on our oceans, meaning forecasts should be altered.

Boaty McBoatface – the publicly named robotic submersible carried on the research vessel RRS Sir David Attenborough – took its first expedition in April 2017, studying the bottom of the Southern Ocean.

The three day mission saw Boaty travel 112 miles (180 kilometres) through mountainous underwater valleys  Credit: Povl Abrahamsen /BAS /SWNS.COM 

The three-day mission saw Boaty travel 112 miles (180 kilometres) through mountainous underwater valleys measuring the temperature, saltiness and turbulence of the water at the bottom of the ocean, at depths of up to 4,000 metres.

In recent decades, winds blowing over the Southern Ocean have been getting stronger due to the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica and increasing greenhouse gases.

The new data, along with other ocean measurements collected from research vessel RRS James Clark Ross, have revealed a mechanism that enables these winds to increase turbulence deep in the ocean, causing warm water at mid depths to mix with cold, dense water in the abyss.

The resulting warming of the water on the sea bed is a significant contributor to rising sea levels.

The mission was part of a project involving the University of Southampton, the National Oceanography Centre, the British Antarctic Survey, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Princeton University.

Sir David Attenborough presses the launch button for the RSS Sir David Attenborough, which the public voted to name Boaty McBoatface Credit: Mercury Press & Media 

Research leader Professor Alberto Naveira Garabato from the University of Southampton, said: “Our study is an important step in understanding how the climate change happening in the remote and inhospitable Antarctic waters will impact the warming of the oceans as a whole and future sea level rise.”

Dr Eleanor Frajka-Williams of the National Oceanography Centre said: “The data from Boaty McBoatface gave us a completely new way of looking at the deep ocean – the path taken by Boaty created a spatial view of the turbulence near the seafloor.”

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