Big Ships and Underwater Robots: Heading Out to Sea with the Ocean Observatories Initiative

Regional Cabled Array Director Deb Kelley, provides some insights as to what the 13 scientists aboard the R/V Thomas G. Thompson will experience during the month of August while in the northeastern Pacific. The interview was reported by the news staff at the University of Washington, 3 August 2020.

It’s summertime, and that means scientists across the University of Washington College of the Environment are in the field collecting data. Researchers in the School of Oceanography are no different and are working off the Oregon coast on their annual expedition to maintain the long-running cabled ocean observatory. Part of the broader National Science Foundation’s Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI), UW oversees the Regional Cabled Observatory that spans several sites in Pacific Northwest waters, ranging from shallow coastal locales to deeper waters in the open ocean more than 300 miles offshore. Each site hosts internet-connected scientific instruments that measure physical, chemical, geological and biological properties of the marine environment, providing a 24/7, real-time presence in the ocean. The broad goal is to help scientists answer questions about how our planet works, especially in relation to climate and ecosystem changes, and tectonic and volcanic activity in the sea.

For nearly all of August, 13 scientists and engineers from UW will be at sea collecting data and maintaining infrastructure aboard the UW’s R/V Thomas G Thompson. We caught up with Deb Kelley, director of the Regional Cabled Array at the UW, to see what’s in store.