In a first for the African continent, two long range autonomous ocean gliders were successfully deployed off the SA Agulhas II into the heart of the world's largest ocean current - the Antarctic Circumpolar Current - as part of a CSIR-led multi-institutional initiative to understand the link between climate and the carbon cycle in the Southern Ocean.
The Southern Ocean Carbon-Climate Observatory (SOCOO) programme leads South Africa's participation in an international experiment - the Southern Ocean Seasonal Cycle Experiment - in which measurements from ships and long-range ocean gliders will be combined, for the first time, to improve global understanding of the carbon-climate cycle in the Southern Ocean.
The vast Southern Ocean is one of the most important carbon-climate systems on Earth, with recent estimates being that 40% of all CO2 emitted are stored in the Southern Ocean However, currently it is also one of the most under-sampled.
Both gliders are now on a zig-zag sampling trajectory headed for the Good Hope line near the Greenwich Meridian. If all goes according to plan, the gliders are to be retrieved in January-February 2013. The international experiment will start in 2014.
Follow the near real-time progress of Seagliders 574 and 573. The current live subsurface data stream of the one glider can also be viewed.