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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Australia Resorts to Gunboat Climatology
20 July 2011 11:36 am
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA—Under threat from pirates, Australian researchers have enlisted naval muscle to plug a critical gap in climate monitoring in the Indian Ocean.
Over the past 2 years, pirates operating out of conflict-riven Somalia have severely disrupted research, says Ann Thresher, an oceanographer at the Wealth from Ocean Flagship program of CSIRO, Australia's national science agency. Particularly hard hit is ARGO, an international program (link: http://www.argo.net/) under which Australian researchers track the Indian Ocean Dipole, a fluctuation of sub-surface temperatures in the equatorial region of the southeastern and the western Indian Ocean. The fluctuation's strength is used to predict floods or droughts across Australia. To measure the Indian Ocean dipole, 2-meter-long lithium battery-powered buoys, which look like bright yellow rockets, record temperature, pressure, and salinity.
CSIRO generally receives assistance from commercial ships to deploy buoys on its behalf. But piracy has forced ships to change their routes. "We have not been able to seed about one-quarter of the Indian Ocean [with buoys] since the increase in piracy," Thresher says. "Without that our predictions are suffering; that's why we had to find another way."
In March, researchers were denied permission by the Seychelles government to place buoys in their territorial waters because of the piracy risk. CSIRO later contacted the Australian navy, which has agreed to deploy eight or nine buoys in the Gulf of Aden in the next 4 to 6 months. In a separate initiative, a U.S. naval vessel is carrying one CSIRO buoy and nine more from the United Kingdom and is expected to deploy them on the east coast of Africa next month.