Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

5-1-2021

Department

Electrical, Computer and Biomedical Engineering

Abstract

The ocean’s twilight zone (TZ) is a vast, globe-spanning region of the ocean. Home to myriad fishes and invertebrates, mid-water fishes alone may constitute 10 times more biomass than all current ocean wild-caught fisheries combined. Life in the TZ supports ocean food webs and plays a critical role in carbon capture and sequestration. Yet the ecological roles that mesopelagic animals play in the ocean remain enigmatic. This knowledge gap has stymied efforts to determine the effects that extraction of mesopelagic biomass by industrial fisheries, or alterations due to climate shifts, may have on ecosystem services provided by the open ocean. We propose to develop a scalable, distributed observation network to provide sustained interrogation of the TZ in the northwest Atlantic. The network will leverage a “tool-chest” of emerging and enabling technologies including autonomous, unmanned surface and underwater vehicles and swarms of low-cost “smart” floats. Connectivity among in-water assets will allow rapid assimilation of data streams to inform adaptive sampling efforts. The TZ observation network will demonstrate a bold new step towards the goal of continuously observing vast regions of the deep ocean, significantly improving TZ biomass estimates and understanding of the TZ’s role in supporting ocean food webs and sequestering carbon.

Publication Title

Marine Technology Society Journal

Volume

55

Issue

3

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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