Clio: An Autonomous Vertical Sampling Vehicle for Global Ocean Biogeochemical Mapping
Abstract:We report the preliminary design of a fast vertical profiling autonomous underwater vehicle, called Clio, designed to cost-effectively improve the understanding of marine microorganism ecosystem dynamics on a global scale.
The insights into biogeochemical cycles to be gained from illuminating the relationships between ocean life and chemistry have led to establishment of the GEOTRACES program. The nutrient and trace element profiles generated by GEOTRACES will provide insight into what is happening biogeochemically, but not how it is happening, i.e., what biochemical pathways are active? Advances in sequencing technology and in situ preservation have made it possible to study the genomics (DNA), transcriptomics (RNA), proteomics (proteins and enzymes), metabolomics (lipids and other metabolites), and metallomics (metals), associated with marine microorganisms; however, these techniques require sample collection. To this end, Clio will carry two to four SUspended Particle Rosette (SUPR) multi-samplers to depths of 6000 m. Clio is being designed specifically to complement the GEOTRACES program—to operate simultaneously and independently of the wire-based sampling protocols developed for GEOTRACES. At each GEOTRACES ocean transect sampling station, Clio will be deployed from the ship, transit vertically to the seafloor, and then ascend to, and stop at up to 32 sampling depths, where it will filter up to 150 l of seawater per sample. Filtered samples for RNA will be administered a dose of preservative (RNALater) in situ.
Clio must efficiently hold station at multiple depths between the surface and 6000 m, but also move rapidly between sampling depths. It must be chemically clean and avoid disturbing the water column while sampling. Clio must be operationally friendly, requiring few personnel to operate, and have minimal impact on shipboard operations. We have selected a positively-buoyant thruster-driven design with a quasi-isopycnal construction. Our simulations indicate the vehicle can complete dives that mirror their GEOTRACES counterparts within the station time alloted. The simulation includes the effects of material/housing compressibility and thermal expansion, and employs a global average T/S profile from the Levitus 1982 climatology.