By Sean Hartnett
British research submarine Boaty McBoatface made a startling discovery during its maiden voyage. The humorously-named submarine uncovered a significant link between Antarctic winds and rising sea temperatures.
The ship travelled 112 miles, measuring the temperature, saltiness and turbulence across three days of research.
Boaty McBoatface was able to capture a 3D map of deep ocean waters as they move away from Antarctica. The findings have confirmed that turbulence is causing warm water is raising the temperature of colder water running along the ocean floor. Scientists are connecting this behavior to changing wind patterns.
“The data from Boaty McBoatface gave us a completely new way of looking at the deep ocean -- the path taken by Boaty created a spatial view of the turbulence near the seafloor,” Eleanor Frajka-Williams of the National Oceanography Centre said in a statement.
“This study is a great example of how exciting new technology can be used along with ship-based measurements and cutting-edge ocean models to discover and explain previously unknown processes affecting heat transport within the ocean,” stated Povl Abrahamsen of the British Antarctic Survey.
The $300 million polar research ship was given its unusual name via a public poll. Over 124,000 votes were cast in favor of the ship’s current name after BBC Radio Jersey presenter James Hand jokingly suggested the silly moniker.
Antarctic winds have continued to grow stronger due to the thinning of the ozone layer and the build-up of greenhouse gases.