Cruise Ship Data to Assist Ocean Scientists

By Eric Haun
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Celebrity Equinox (photo courtesy Celebrity Cruises)

Celebrity Equinox becomes third Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. vessel to feature technology that helps scientists understand effects of climate change

Last week, as Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Equinox completed its scheduled drydock in Cadiz, Spain, it joined Royal Caribbean International’s Allure of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas in a program that tracks ocean circulation dynamics and measures atmospheric and oceanographic conditions, on repeated journeys.

According to Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., its ships are known for providing vacationers with innovative experiences, extraordinary service and award-winning cuisine as they cross the world’s oceans. Not as well known – but critically important worldwide – is the scientific research conducted on several of these ships by the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. The scientists capture and analyze oceanographic and atmospheric data on the vessels sailing worldwide.

The scientists record ocean temperature, salinity and chlorophyll concentration, as well as properties of the ocean’s surface, such as reflectance and absorbance. In addition, they measure meteorological properties, such as wind speed, wind direction, barometric pressure and humidity. These data help scientists monitor, understand, and forecast climate change and its effects on marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs. Coral reefs protect coastlines from storms and help sustain the livelihoods of local people, especially in developing countries, where coral reefs contribute about one-quarter of the annual total fish catch, providing food to about one billion people in Asia alone.

“These data are proving to be of invaluable assistance in calibrating and verifying the American and European satellites monitoring climate change throughout the ocean,” said Dr. Peter B. Ortner, Director of the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. “Smaller packets of data are transmitted on an hourly basis through RCCL’s regular satellite link and large data sets will be sent back via Internet connection when the ship is in port.”

Rich Pruitt, Vice President, Safety and Environmental Stewardship, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL), said, “Our business depends on ocean health, and part of protecting ocean health is understanding the atmosphere and its effects.”

Funded in part by RCL’s Ocean Fund, The University of Miami’s OceanScope equipment on Explorer of the Seas has tracked ocean circulation dynamics since 2000, in the North Atlantic basin that the ship sails through while on Bermuda and Caribbean routes from the U.S. Northeast. The Allure of the Seas lab tracks these conditions through the Eastern and Western Caribbean, and has done so since 2012. The installation of an OceanScope lab on Celebrity Equinox will provide insight into the ocean dynamics in the Mediterranean Sea, across the North Atlantic and along the Iberian Peninsula.

RCL created The Ocean Fund in 1996, to support marine conservation organizations in safeguarding the health of the world’s oceans and coastal communities. The Fund aims to support efforts to restore and maintain a healthy marine environment, minimize the impact of human activity on the environment, and promote awareness of ocean and coastal issues and respect for marine life. Since the Ocean Fund’s establishment, RCL has given over $13 million to over 75 organizations around the world for projects that relate to ocean science, climate change, key marine species, education and innovative technologies.

royalcaribbean.com

rsmas.miami.edu
 

Maritime Reporter June 2014 Digital Edition
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