Boaty McBoatface makes significant climate change discovery on maiden mission

The polar research vessel discovered a significant link between Antarctic winds and rising sea temperatures.
Image: Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson stands with Boaty McBoatface, an autonomous underwater vehicle used for scientific research, in Southampton, England, on June 22, 2018.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson stands with Boaty McBoatface, an autonomous underwater vehicle used for scientific research, in Southampton, England, on June 22, 2018.Matt Cardy / Getty Images file
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By Janelle Griffith

Boaty McBoatface, a British research submarine, made a major climate change discovery on its maiden mission.

The high-tech, remotely operated yellow submarine discovered a significant link between Antarctic winds and rising sea temperatures.

The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, a multidisciplinary journal.

The research took place in April 2017 and studied the changing temperatures at the bottom of the Southern Ocean.

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Over the course of three days, Boaty traveled 180 kilometers (111.85 miles) through mountainous underwater valleys measuring the temperature, saltiness and turbulence of the water at the bottom of the ocean, the journal said.

Using an echo sounder, Boaty navigated depths as low as 4,000 meters (2.49 miles) before reaching a programmed destination point to be recovered.

“The data from Boaty McBoatface gave us a completely new way of looking at the deep ocean — the path taken by Boaty created a spatial view of the turbulence near the seafloor,” said Dr. Eleanor Frajka-Williams of the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, England.

The data will help experts to better predict how climate change will impact rise in sea levels.

"This study is a great example of how exciting new technology such as the unmanned submarine 'Boaty McBoatface' can be used along with ship-based measurements and cutting-edge ocean models to discover and explain previously unknown processes affecting heat transport within the ocean," said Dr. Povl Abrahamsen of the British Antarctic Survey in in Cambridge, England.

The British public voted in 2016 to name the new, almost $300 million, state-of-the-art research ship RRS Boaty McBoatface, which received more than 124,000 votes.

But the U.K.'s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills rejected the result, choosing instead to christen the vessel "RRS Sir David Attenborough," after the much-loved British naturalist and broadcaster.

The Boaty McBoatface name was instead given to the yellow submarine.