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Robot Gliders Track Huge Pockets of Ocean Water

tasmania, bass strait, oceans and seas, Australian oceans, ocean gliders, ocean mixing, how water moves in the ocean, ocean sensors, bass strait, oceanography, ocean circulation
The gliders tracked far-traveling water from the Bass Strait, the swath of ocean seen in the above picture just north of the island of Tasmania. (Image credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC. )

Deep-diving, unmanned ocean robots have revealed that enormous pockets of salty water travel for thousands of miles in one mass, without being diluted, according to new research.

The pre-programmed ocean gliders tracked a giant disc of water 650 feet (200 meters) tall and 25 miles (40 kilometers) across as it traveled from the Bass Strait, a swath of salty ocean that separates Australia from Tasmania, to ocean regions far to the east of the island, according to a study from the University of Technology Sydney and CSIRO in Australia.

The free-swimming gliders can take data from as deep as 3,300 feet (1,000 m) in the ocean, and, based in part on chemical signatures in the water, revealed that at least some of that Bass Strait water made it as far as the Indian Ocean.

"We're getting a terrific amount of data that is opening up a very big window on Australia's oceans," said the University of Technology Sydney's Mark Baird, in a statement.

The $230 million Integrated Marine Observing System has deployed a range of observing equipment in the oceans around Australia, and is making all of the data freely and openly available for the benefit of Australian marine and climate science as a whole.

This story was provided by OurAmazingPlanet, a sister site to LiveScience. Follow OurAmazingPlanet for the latest in Earth science and exploration news on Twitter @OAPlanet and on Facebook.

Live Science Staff
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