It’s got a goofy name, but it’s doing some serious work.
The unmanned submarine Boaty McBoatFace has made a real discovery about the Earth’s changing climate, a new study said. For the first time, thanks to data from the little sub, scientists have learned how increasing Antarctic winds are linked to rising sea temperatures.
The mission took place in April 2017, when “Boaty” studied the changing temperatures at the bottom of the Southern Ocean.
The wacky name gained global fame in 2016 after voters overwhelmingly chose it to christen Britain’s new $300 million research ship in an online poll. The British government pooh-poohed the idea, suggesting it wasn’t “suitable” for the grand vessel later named after the famed English naturalist David Attenborough.
The name was given to a small submersible aboard the ship instead.
According to the study, during the three-day mission, Boaty traveled about 110 miles through mountainous underwater valleys measuring the temperature, saltiness and turbulence of the water at the bottom of the ocean.
“The data from Boaty McBoatface gave us a completely new way of looking at the deep ocean, said study co-author Eleanor Frajka-Williams of Britain’s National Oceanography Centre. “The path taken by Boaty created a spatial view of the turbulence near the seafloor.”
The information gathered will be helpful in understanding future impacts from climate change, researchers 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,” said study lead author Alberto Naveira Garabato from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom.
The study was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed journal.
Contributing: Josh Hafner, USA TODAY
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