This Groundbreaking Simulator Creates a Great Indoor Ocean
“It’s a complex combination of chemistry, biology, and physics,” said Scripps oceanographer Grant Deane, co-principal investigator at Soars. “That’s one of the things we’ve discovered in the past, I would say, 15 years — these complex interactions in this thin layer of the ocean surface. And what happens there can influence the clouds, ice, weather, climate. we there on understand that boundary and its role in climate. ”
Soars gives oceanographers undetected control of these variables. To date, scientists have been able to run complex computerized climate models to estimate, say, how much CO increases.2 The level can change the chemistry of the surface waters. These models are useful, but their resolution is severe. Due to limited computing power, the models break up the ocean into pixels measuring tens to hundreds of kilometers. If scientists try to work on the centimeter scale, they will wait for the results for a long time. With Soars, oceanographers can make snake instruments through the walls of the tank and extract CO.2 measurements of extremely fine scale.
Another option for scientists is to come out with a research vessel — but it could cost them more than $ 20,000 a day to use a ship, while Soars would cost $ 1,500 to $ 2,000 a day. Stokes and Deane estimate that, depending on the nature of the research, investigators may need the machine for a few days to a few months. The simulator can be open to any researcher, Scripps or otherwise.
Relatively short, simple experiments may include measuring how wind speed and wave sizes influence the number of aerosols that fly from the surface of the water. Or perhaps someone wants to know how the “albedo” of the sea changes, that is, how much energy the sun reflects. As the simulated sea deepens, the white caps reflect most of the sunlight, while the calmer, darker waters absorb more of it and heat up.
Longer and more complex experiments will involve cultivating microbes and plankton — tiny plants and animals that float at the mercy of the tide — and playing with water and air temperatures to see how they react. Or a researcher could be circulating atmospheric CO2 concentration, which is currently in the vicinity 420 parts per million on Earth. “One of the first things we do is bomb the CO2 up to 600 ppm and see what it can do to organisms, ”Deane said.
What do all these experiments have in common? Control. Only oceanographers can study the real sea in the present and in the present. With Soars, they will be able to fast-forward to a world with higher temperatures and CO.2 level. “We can turn these knobs and make very good estimates of what future systems will look like,” Stokes said.