University of Hawaii System newsletter

First Light Shines at ALOHA Cabled Observatory

Posted on | August 12, 2011 | Comments Off on First Light Shines at ALOHA Cabled Observatory

junction box lowering in ocean

Deployment of the junction box that connects the power and data cable to the sensors at ACO. Photo courtesy of SOEST.

At 10:23 a.m. on June 6, 2011, the University of Hawaiʻi ALOHA Cabled Observatory came to life, extending electric power and the Internet over a retired seafloor telecommunications cable from Mākaha to Station ALOHA, located 60 nautical miles north of Oʻahu.

Turning on the observatory lights illuminated the three-mile-deep seafloor. ACO is literally shining new light on the darkness of the ocean at depth. Sensors now connected to the ACO provide live video of the surrounding seafloor, sound from local and distant sources and they measure currents, pressure, temperature and salinity.

The deep ocean is a long-term recorder of surface climate changes, but it is particularly under-observed. Observations have been limited by lack of electrical power and the necessity to store information or communicate small amounts of information by satellite. Sustained, continuous recording of deep ocean conditions will enable better understanding of ocean acoustics, circulation, chemistry and ecosystem behavior, including the testing of ideas and numerical models.

“After 18 days of hard work at sea, and months of preparations, the ship’s crew and science groups were elated with our success in establishing the world’s deepest cabled ocean observatory,” notes Roger Lukas, oceanography professor in Mānoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology.

Read the news release.