Science and Engineering

University of Hawai`i at Manoa

Glenn Carter, Jeff Drazen, Chris Measures, Bruce Howe
Honolulu, HI
$1,200,000
June 2017

 

It is sometimes said that we know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the deep ocean.  This is certainly true when it comes to the waters deeper than 6000 m (3.72 miles) — the hadal zone.  These deep ocean trenches, where pressures approach 16,000 psi (1100 times atmospheric pressure) at the deepest known point (Challenger Deep, at 11 km or 36,000 ft), are among the most inaccessible, and poorly studied regions on the planet.  Practically nothing is known about the circulation, mixing, chemical properties, and biological communities that are within the deepest 45% of the ocean’s depth range.  This dearth of knowledge stems from a lack of suitable instrumentation with which to make observations.  The team from the University of Hawai`i, along with industry partners that are world leaders in their fields, plans to build a Hadal Water Column Profiler (HWCP).  This unique profiling instrument will, for the first time, enable high quality physical, chemical, and biological sampling of the hadal water column.  It will be designed to withstand hundreds of cycles to hadal pressures which, together with an 8-hour period between profiles, will allow observations to be made that resolve physically and biologically relevant time scales (including tides).  Research that will be enabled by HWCP will create new understanding of the deep ocean’s impact on the climate and biological communities.

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