Researchers Embark on Pioneering Marine Carbon Dioxide Removal Research

In a groundbreaking leap toward understanding and mitigating the impacts of climate change, Florida International University (FIU) researchers are set to embark on the “SLEUTH: Spectroscopy of Oceanic Liquid Environments Using Towed Optical Sensor Heads” project. This ambitious initiative, spearheaded by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Juliet Gopinath aligns with the U.S. Department of Energy’s mission to advance marine carbon dioxide removal (mCDR) monitoring.

“If we want to limit the amount that the planet is warming, we have to be very aggressive about monitoring what is in the ocean and looking at mCDR,” said Dr. Gopinath, who is the Alfred T. and Betty E. Look Endowed Professor in the Department of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering at UC Boulder and the project’s Principal Investigator.

FIU’s involvement in this transformative project will play a critical role in advancing our understanding of marine environments. The FIU team led by Dr. Ryan Smith at the Institute of Environment includes Dr. Gregory Reis and Dr. Leonardo Bobadilla from the Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences (KFSCIS). The team is poised to receive approximately $770,000 over the next three years to bring their expertise in marine robotics to the forefront of this scientific endeavor.

At the core of the SLEUTH project is the development and demonstration of a novel method for marine carbon dioxide removal monitoring over vast oceanic expanses. As carbon dioxide levels continue to rise globally, understanding the dynamics of marine carbon sinks becomes paramount. FIU’s unique contribution lies in the realm of marine robotics, enabling the precise delivery of innovative sensors to strategic locations within the ocean. Phase one of the project will conduct tests to detect carbon using the optical sensors in Biscayne Bay.

Drs. Reis and Bobadilla are developing and implementing control and coordination algorithms that will empower underwater robotic platforms to maneuver with unparalleled accuracy. This capability is crucial for gathering high-quality data over large spatial areas and extended temporal horizons, providing scientists with a comprehensive and synoptic view of marine carbon dioxide removal processes.

The project’s significance extends beyond academic realms, holding promise for real-world applications and effective policy change. By delivering the right sensors to the right place at the right time, FIU aims to contribute invaluable insights into the ocean’s role in mitigating climate change.

The selection of FIU researchers as collaborators on the grant not only underscores the importance of FIU’s expertise in marine robotics but also solidifies its position as a key player in the global effort to combat climate change. As the SLEUTH project unfolds over the next three years, the scientific community will be eagerly anticipating the discoveries and innovations that will emerge from FIU’s dedicated team, to propel the U.S. toward a more informed and sustainable future. As the ocean’s secrets are on the verge of being unveiled, FIU is again at the forefront of this scientific endeavor.

The research is funded by the U. S. Department of Energy, which will fund researchers at CU Boulder, University of California, Irvine, and FIU, as well as Industry partners Cambridge Consultants, Optical Fiber Sensors (OFS), and Liquid Robotics $5.9M over the next three years to complete the project.

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