Oceanographers at the University of Delaware have deployed a research float in the Southern Ocean near the Drake Passage, according to a release. It’s one of only two monitoring in the area.
The APEX (Autonomous Profiling Explorer) float is equipped with an optical instrument that measures chlorophyll, an indicator of phytoplankton, tiny floating plants that are important to photosynthesis. In addition to facilitating the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the ocean and atmosphere, phytoplankton are a valuable food source for marine life.
Data collected from the mission will be used to find optimal conditions that encourage the growth of phytoplankton in the passage. The float is one of more than 3,600 deployed in oceans worldwide as part of the international Argo program.
Image: The APEX float prior to launch in the Drake Passage, just north of Antarctica (Credit: Charles Robertson/University Delaware)