New lidar technology offers a glimpse into the unexplored depths of our oceans | The Optimist Daily: Making Solutions the News
Today’s Solutions: June 22, 2024

The oceans make up more than half of our world, yet vast areas of them remain completely unexplored. The sheer depth of many parts of the ocean has kept their composition and species a secret from scientists, but a new method of ocean exploration may soon open these areas up to human eyes. 

Researchers from Old Dominion University and the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences have successfully used a laser-based tool, lidar, to collect measurements of the ocean far deeper than has been possible using satellites.

The new method allows researchers to detect algae blooms and measure key ocean properties to learn more about our oceans. Much in the same way that animals like bats and dolphins use echolocation to feel out their surroundings, lidar uses light emitted by lasers to gain information about objects. 

Traditional satellite exploration can only see five to ten meters deep, but lidar uncovers a whole new realm of exploration. “Harnessing a tool that lets us look much deeper into the ocean is like having a new set of eyes,” said Barney Balch, a senior research scientist at the Bigelow Laboratory

The more we know about our oceans, the more we can understand the complex ecosystems that dwell under the sea and better protect these delicate marine habitats. This new technology is a solution for improved study and conservation. We are excited to see the new oceanic discoveries this new technology reveals.

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