Use of emerging technologies to help measure fjordic biodiversity and blue carbon: mini-manned submarines and autonomous underwater vehicle swarms
Meaningful protection of global oceans lags far behind that of land and has taken little consideration of climate mitigation potential to date (such as through assessment of blue carbon stocks and change). With the new emphasis on synergistic approaches to the identification and conservation of both carbon- and species- rich habitats, we need much better knowledge of the geography and status of blue carbon habitats beyond coastal wetlands. In subpolar and polar regions, some blue carbon habitats are still emerging and work as negative (mitigating) feedback on climate change, yet remain unprotected despite strong evidence of threat overlap. Scientific research expeditions are gradually increasing our understanding, but appropriate vessels are a limiting factor due to high costs and carbon footprints. Even when available such vessels cannot access all areas (e.g., remote fjords with sills) and may struggle to measure certain aspects of habitats (e.g., steep or vertical surfaces). New technologies and opportunities have advanced to aid some of these problems, and here, two of them are considered, mini-manned submersibles and autonomous underwater vehicles. These two platforms have both become much more available and affordable (through novel partnerships) while also being much more scientifically capable. This technology has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of science and particularly aid in assessing biology and environment status and change on steep sides, such as fjord walls.
Authors: Barnes, David K.A. ORCID record for David K.A. Barnes, Goodall-Copestake, William, Weller, Kara, Durrent, Andrew, Souster, Terri, Dunlop, Kathy, Gossmann, Theresa, Sands, Chester J. ORCID record for Chester J. Sands, Morley, Simon A. ORCID record for Simon A. Morley, Zwerschke, Nadescha ORCID record for Nadescha Zwerschke