In Melbourne, Australia, researchers are using various naval resources to improve climate monitoring. The vast Indian Ocean is their target of interest, as it is swarming with modern-day pirates.
According to Ann Thresher, one of Australia’s leading oceanographers, Somali pirates have put a dent in Australia’s research efforts. The ARGO program has been one of the most affected. Under this program, researchers study the Indian Ocean Dipole. This is simply a fluctuation of temperatures within that region. The reason why it is studied is because the fluctuation determines whether or not there is going to be floods or droughts in the country. As such, researchers use special buoys to monitor what is going on. Approximately two meters long, these lithium-powered devices record a variety of readings, ranging from temperature to the salinity of the water.
However, when pirates infiltrate the water, researchers must use different routes. Unfortunately, these routes do not offer the same level of visibility, even with high-tech buoys. Thresher talks about this phenomenon in an interview with The Science Insider. She feels that the researchers’ predictions suffer every time they have to change routes. To ensure more accurate readings, they have to stay in the same area.
To make matters worse, there are some occasions when researchers cannot sail at all. Just last March, the Seychelles government forbade them from using buoys in their waters. The government was worried about the piracy threat. Fortunately, this will all change with Australia’s new “gunboat climatology” approach. Over the next four to six months, Australia will use its navy to deploy the buoys. This will create a more threatening presence among the pirates. Other countries will also help through a separate initiative. Naval vessels from the United States and the U.K. will also drop buoys for their ally. This is expected to happen over the next month or so.