Newswise — Woods Hole, MA (April 11, 2022) -- Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), one of the world’s leading independent ocean research organizations, and Pangaea Logistics Solutions (Pangaea), a U.S. based, international maritime and logistics transportation company, today announced the launch of a new science program aboard Pangaea’s fleet of ships. Science RoCS (Science Research on Commercial Ships) is an innovative program pairing scientists with commercial vessels to regularly monitor the vast and open ocean, particularly along repeat routes in hard-to-reach areas where critical gaps in monitoring exist. The inaugural vessel for Science RoCS equipment is the M/V Bulk Xaymaca on its route between Jamaica and New Orleans, beginning this spring. This route will provide a yet unattainable, simultaneous set of observations in the Gulf of Mexico as it crosses the Loop Current and its rich ocean eddy field, with underway measurements collected regularly during round trips completed every seventeen days.
With more than 80% of the ocean unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Science RoCS aims to fill in gaps in ocean monitoring and builds on other efforts and earlier plans by scientists to engage commercial “ships of opportunity” to collect ocean data. In fact, a recent student-led study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, reinforces the tremendous utility of data steadily collected by commercial ships.
With ocean-going research vessels worldwide estimated at less than 100 and with more than 50,000 commercial ships on the ocean at any given time, partnering with commercial vessels is a positive step in increasing oceanic and atmospheric monitoring.
WHOI and its collaborators developed Science RoCS to help deploy ocean monitoring sensors that capture data such as the speed of ocean currents and seawater temperature and salinity, which helps scientists forecast weather, understand climate changes, and predict flows that spread flora, fauna, and contaminants. The initiative is focused on making ships’ science data streams broadly available onshore to not just serve the science community and other stakeholders, but to help inform changes that can make human activity, including shipping, more sustainable as it relates to the health of the ocean.
Pangaea operates 50-60 ocean going commercial vessels each day, with a focus on operating sustainable supply chains. The company has a deep interest in ocean science and the advancement of education. Partnering with Science RoCS in the collection of oceanographic and meteorological data aligns with Pangaea’s mission.
Lydia Doussopoulos, head of Pangaea’s technical manager Seamar, and Sam Sirrico, Vice President, Operations, spearheaded the project for Pangaea. Doussopoulos said, “To use our knowledge and equipment in a completely different way than we do normally, in a way that can help awareness and response to our changing climate, was a real thrill.” Sirrico added, “We hope to work with Science RoCS on more fleet ships and generate information in more geographic areas where we operate, especially in the Arctic Ocean where we may be the only ships able to provide these important observations.”
Funding for the Science RoCS equipment on M/V Bulk Xaymaca came from Pangaea, the WHOI Research Opportunities Program, and the Office of Naval Research (ONR). According to Robert Sparrock, ONR Program Manager of Research Facilities, “Helping to turn commercial vessels into integrated observing platforms is a way for us to support the Science RoCS program and allow for critical measurements and data collection to start immediately.”
“The ocean is vastly under-sampled. If we want to solve problems that matter to people on shore—like identifying and mitigating harmful algal blooms, or predicting how air/sea interactions will cause hurricanes to intensify, or tracking nutrient inputs that can lead to deoxygenation in regions important for fisheries—we need in situ observations of the ocean,” said Magdalena Andres, an associate scientist in WHOI’s Department of Physical Oceanography, and a principle investigator on some Science RoCS proposals.
Science RoCS is presently working with multiple shipping companies, and WHOI and its partners are collaborating with other operators to introduce the program.
“Pangaea has been an amazing partner throughout this entire process," added Andres. “It is through their strong support and deep commitment to the science mission that this first, of what will hopefully be many, Science RoCS missions is getting ready to be executed.”
“Complementing datasets from our existing observing programs, such as information from satellites and Argo floats, these interactions with commercial vessels are another way in which we can drive science forward, and improve ocean and meteorological modeling and forecasting, while providing data and information that helps increase the safety and efficiency in maritime industries,“ she concluded.
About Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate an understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. WHOI’s pioneering discoveries stem from an ideal combination of science and engineering—one that has made it one of the most trusted and technically advanced leaders in basic and applied ocean research and exploration anywhere. WHOI is known for its multidisciplinary approach, superior ship operations, and unparalleled deep-sea robotics capabilities. We play a leading role in ocean observation and operate the most extensive suite of data-gathering platforms in the world. Top scientists, engineers, and students collaborate on more than 800 concurrent projects worldwide—both above and below the waves—pushing the boundaries of knowledge and possibility. For more information, please visit www.whoi.edu
About Pangea Logistics Solutions
Pangaea is a US-based maritime logistics and transportation company utilizing its expertise to service a broad base of customers who require the transportation of a wide variety of dry bulk cargoes. The Company addresses the logistics needs of its customers by undertaking a comprehensive set of services and activities that seeks to add value at every step of the supply chain. The Company operates a fleet of 50-60 Supramax, Panamax and Handymax vessels, of which 25 are owned or partially owned. The Company is a leader in the high ice class sector, secured by its control of a majority of the world’s large dry bulk vessels with Ice-Class 1a designation.