Research voyages 2018

Voyage #, date & ports

Voyage summary 


9 January-22 February 2018

Hobart to Hobart

Detecting Southern Ocean change from repeat hydrography, deep Argo and trace element biogeochemistry (Chief Scientist: Dr Steve Rintoul, CSIRO)

The Southern Ocean has a profound influence on regional and global climate, sea level rise, and biological productivity. The project aims to discover how and why the Southern Ocean is changing, and to identify the consequences of those changes for climate, sea level and marine life.  The research will help deliver more reliable projections of future climate, from models that more faithfully represent critical Southern Ocean processes; such information is urgently needed to allow Australia to foresee and manage the risks and opportunities associated with climate change.

CAPRICORN: clouds, aerosols, precipitation, radiation and atmospheric composition over the Southern Ocean (Lead Principal Investigator: Dr Alain Protat, BOM)

Clouds over the Southern Ocean are one of the largest uncertainties in the prediction of the future climate of the Southern Hemisphere. This study will bridge an observational gap in this data-sparse, unique region of the World assisting in understanding why climate models poorly simulate the energy balance over the Southern Ocean and improving skill of weather forecast models to simulate frontal cloud systems. This will be achieved by analysing cloud, aerosol, and precipitation observations of frontal cloud systems and associated processes using dedicated radar, lidar, and radiosounding observations from the RV Investigator and satellite platforms.



1-20 March 2018

Hobart to Hobart

Integrated Monitoring Observing System Time Series automated moorings for climate and carbon cycle studies southwest of Tasmania (Chief Scientist: Professor Tom Trull, ACE-CRC)

The Southern Ocean Time Series provides world-leading automated observations from deep-ocean moorings of the exchanges of heat, water, carbon dioxide, and oxygen between the ocean and atmosphere, and the physical and biological processes that control them. These results contribute to forward projections of anthropogenic climate warming, inform the setting of emissions targets, illuminate controls on climate variability, and provide a baseline for impacts on ocean pelagic ecology.  Sensor data is returned live to the internet and samples are returned annually for further study in shore laboratories.

Subantarctic Biogeochemistry of Carbon and Iron, Southern Ocean Time Series site (Lead Principal Investigator: Professor Philip Boyd, UTAS)

The Southern Ocean straddles the waters between Australia and Antarctica and has two distinct regions – the subantarctic and the polar seas.   The latter is comprehensively studied by expeditions by Australia’s Antarctic Division, whereas the subantarctic has received much less attention.  This voyage aims to determine processes within the subantarctic environment that control productivity, foodwebs and cycles of elements such as carbon.  Enhanced understanding will maximise investments, such as in ocean time-series in subpolar waters and enable better predictions to be made on how marine life and chemistry are controlled by both natural and human-made shifts in climate and ocean conditions.



Scientific Highlights


6-14 April 2018

Hobart to Brisbane


Physical, chemical and biogeochemical gradients in the East Australian Current (Chief Scientist: Dr Zanna Chase, UTAS)

This voyage will train Masters students from the University of Tasmania in oceanographic methods.  Students will map changes in temperature, salinity and nutrients along 2,500 km of the eastern Australian coast. Biological sampling will document the changes in ocean plankton from the subantarctic waters near Tasmania to the tropics. By observing the change in current biological communities along a south-to-north temperature gradient, students will gain an appreciation of changes that may occur over time due to climate change. Students will gain valuable training in oceanographic field techniques, data analysis and communication.



19 April-10 May 2018

Brisbane to Brisbane


Integrated Marine Observing System: monitoring of East Australian Current property transports at 27 degrees South (Chief Scientist:  Dr Bernadette Sloyan, CSIRO)

The East Australian Current (EAC) is the complex and highly energetic western boundary current of the South Pacific Ocean.  The EAC is the dominant mechanism for the redistribution of heat and freshwater between the ocean and atmosphere in the Australian region; it is a vital component of the eastern Australian coastal ecosystem. The monitoring of the EAC is central to our understanding of how climate variability is communicated through the global ocean. This ocean current time-series will provide significant insights into the interactions between the EAC, the Pacific basin and the local shelf ocean circulation.



14-21 May 2018

Brisbane to Hobart

Harmful Algal Blooms And Their Long-Term Sediment Record In East Coast Tasmanian Waters (Chief Scientist: Gustaaf Hallegraeff, IMAS/UTAS)

Unprecedented toxic dinoflagellate blooms occurred off east coast Tasmania in 2012 and 2015/2016. These events led to a global shellfish product recall (AUD23M loss), lengthy (4 months) closures of mussel, oyster, scallop, and rock lobster fisheries, and 4 human hospitalisations (Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning). While the causative Alexandrium dinoflagellate had been previously detected, genetic evidence suggests that blooms represent a cryptic genotype newly stimulated by climate-driven increased water column stratification. We seek to characterize blooms from with the long time (1000+ yr) ancient DNA sediment record using novel genetic methods.


13 September-8 October 2018

Hobart to Hobart

Constraining external iron inputs and cycling in the southern extension of the East Australian Current (Chief Scientist: A/Prof Michael Ellwood, ANU)

The East Australian Current (EAC) is the southward moving current along the eastern margin of Australia
that influences regional climate and primary productivity. At the EAC’s southern extent near Tasmania, the
nutrient depleted but iron rich waters of the EAC mix with the cool, nutrient rich, and iron depleted
Southern Ocean water. Where these waters mmix, large spring phytoplankton blooms tend to occur. This
voyage aims to determine the sources and cycling of iron, and associated trace elements, during a spring time phytoplankton bloom and contrast this to waters where the spring bloom is muted.


16 October-16 November 2018

Hobart to Hobart

How does a standing meander southeast of Tasmania brake the Antarctic Circumpolar Current? (Chief Scientist: Prof Nathan Bindoff, UTAS)

The planet’s largest current, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) distributes heat, freshwater and carbon-dioxide among the major oceans. It is a central element of the global overturning circulation that has allowed the ocean to absorb 93% of global warming. Despite Southern Ocean winds increasing for the last 2 decades, the ACC strength has not changed. A major puzzle in understanding climate variability is how the ACC responds to the additional wind energy. We will address the societally-important need to understand how the ACC and Southern Ocean’s capacity to absorb heat and carbon-dioxide will respond to climate variability and change.
How does a standing meander southeast of Tasmania brake the Antarctic Circumpolar Current?

IN 2018_V06

22 November-17 December 2018

Hobart to Hobart

Status and recovery of deep-sea coral communities on seamounts in iconic Australian marine reserves (Chief Scientist: Dr Alan Williams, CSIRO)

Australia has protected spectacular deep-sea coral reefs living on undersea mountains (‘seamounts’) by including some in marine reserves off Tasmania. This protection is an important step in marine conservation because deep-sea coral reefs support highly diverse communities of seafloor organisms, but are fragile and vulnerable to human disturbance – particularly by bottom trawling.

Scientists on RV Investigator will conduct camera surveys to map the extent of the globally-significant deep-sea coral reefs, and determine how much of the reef area lies within reserves. Scientists will also measure how the reefs have recovered from earlier trawling impacts since being protected in marine reserves.

Updated: 28 March 2018