Presented by University of East Anglia.

Prof. Karen Heywood
School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

Dr Rob Hall
School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

Dr Ben Webber
School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

Louise Biddle
School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

Further reading

Salt in the sea fluctuates around the world driven by weather, tides and by melting or freezing of ice. Dense, salty water powers global ocean circulation, regulating ocean currents and our climate. A decrease in salt content can change the path and speed of currents such as the Gulf Stream, with major implications for weather around the world

See the scientists explain the science behind their exhibit in the video above, produced by students from Imperial College: Graihagh Jackson, Elizabeth Cottrell

How it works

This exhibit will demonstrate how scientists are using cutting-edge instruments to provide information on remote and otherwise inaccessible areas of the ocean. A fleet of ocean robots known as Seagliders measure the saltiness of the seawater and send back the data via satellite phone.

They use the difference in density between the glider and the water to go up and down in the top kilometre of the ocean every few hours. The UEA-led Seaglider project has been studying the North Atlantic for nearly a year, measuring the effects of wind, sun and rain on the ocean.

Ice in the ocean provides a source of freshwater, which dilutes the saltiness of the ocean and prevents ocean overturning. This can have a direct impact on our climate and weather patterns. Seagliders are being used to monitor climate changes in the ocean, for example, in the Antarctic where melting of the Antarctic ice sheet is contributing to sea level rise.

The extent and thickness of Arctic sea ice is also decreasing, but it is not responsible for sea level rise since it is already floating in the ocean. Seagliders provide accurate and frequent oceanic measurements during rough weather and in remote locations such as the Arctic and Antarctic. Understanding these changes will be crucial to predicting Britain’s climate in the future.

Seaglider Game

Seaglider 150

Play Seaglider, a 3D game which takes you on the journey of an ocean glider.

Follow the instructions to install Unity web player (Windows or Mac OS X) if needed. You can play in full-screen mode by right-clicking in the game.

Lead Image: Accumulation of salt on the shoreline of the Dead Sea