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Researchers use laser mounted on a satellite to monitor ocean migrations

Press Release

During WWII, marine ocean experts disclosed a reflective layer, which rose as well as fell across the sonar screens once in a day. In-depth examinations showed that it is composed of a group of small sea creatures known as zooplankton and fish vacating towards surface of the ocean as the solar sets to rest under the skies and then swimming back to the dark blue depths during the setting of the sun. They do this to run away from their predators during daylight hours. 

The vertical vacation was valued as a way of hiding the movements of submarines, and it plays an essential role in global carbon cycle, i.e., consuming the surface of algae as a way of making the zooplanktons carriers go deep down into the ocean. This helps reduce level of carbon monoxide on surface of ocean as well as the atmosphere. The actual amount of carbon that gets into the deep seas via ‘biological pipes’ is still a massive problem for researchers in coming up with exact quantity that is based on the globe. 

According to a study published on December 12, it reports on use of the satellite-borne lidar to aid in locating the daily vertical migration of zooplankton across the seas of the globe in 10 years. Just like sonar, Lidar is the laser, which uses beats of light than sound to obtain pictures of objects present in air and water. 

Lead writer Michael Bergenfield of Oregon State University said that the lidar allows the scientists to sample out the migrating creatures on a worldwide scale for every 16 days to 10 years. VIMS professor and co-writer, Deborah Steinberg contributed to research by ‘ground-truthing’ the measurements based on the satellite together with information obtained from ships to make a count of the creatures and identities of their various species. Deborah has experience of performing field examinations about the vertical migration zooplanktons for the last thirty years. She carried out her recent research near the Antarctica, Bermuda, as well as in the northeast Pacific as one of the export operations. 

Deborah Steinberg said that consolidating information from ships and satellites gives them a chance to expand in their fields of researches. It helps the team gain quantitative comprehension about the role of the zooplankton in global carbon cycle, especially in terms of inconsistency in time and space. That kind of knowledge is crucially right in reshaping global models of climate. 

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