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New method lets scientists peer deeper into ocean

Senior Research Scientist Barney Balch collects ocean optics data during a research cruise in the Gulf of Maine. Balch is part of a team of researchers that has established a new approach to detect algae and measure key ocean properties using light, based on their research in the Gulf of Maine and beyond. Credit: Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences Researchers have advanced a new way to see into the ocean’s depths, establishing an approach to detect algae and measure key properties using light. A paper published in Applied Optics reports using a laser-based tool, lidar, to collect these measurements far deeper than has been typically possible using satellites.

“Traditional satellite remote sensing approaches can collect a wide range of information about the upper ocean , but satellites typically can’t ‘see’ deeper than the top five or 10 meters of the sea,” said Barney Balch, a senior research scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and an author of the paper. “Harnessing a tool that lets us look so much deeper into the ocean is like having a new set of eyes.”

Lidar uses light emitted by lasers to gain information about particles in seawater, much as animals like bats and dolphins […]

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