RRS Sir David Attenborough– The future of Polar research.

Sir David Attenborough polar ship made its debut on November 17th, opening a new chapter in polar research.

Isabel Lamb
25th November 2021
Credits: Wikimedia Commons
The Polar research ship RRS Sir David Attenborough, previously known as Boaty McBoatface, arrived in London in October after successful completion of its sea trails. The visit marked the start of the COP26 climate conference. Scientific advisors hoped its presence would highlight the pressing need to tackle climate change, especially the need for development of new technology to limit global temperature rises.

The ship’s namesake Sir David Attenborough visited the vessel on the 28th of October. He spoke of how proud he was to be “standing in this remarkable vessel” and of the impact he saw the £200m investment having – “the findings made on this ship in the next few years will be of the greatest value and importance to the welfare of the world”.

On November 17th the ship embarked on its first voyage, heading towards Antarctica for the austral summer research season. Once there it will deliver supplies to British research stations including Rothera. The ship will split its time between Antarctica and the Artic.

Research will be conducted onboard and will focus on how atmospheric and ocean warming takes place and the impact this will have on Arctic and non-Arctic countries. Scientists also hope to reconstruct past environments by mapping and dating glaciers and sea floors. Reconstructions can be used to predict the impact of future global warming.

Reconstructions can be used to predict the impact of future global warming

To aid research the ship has a helipad, labs, submarines and a moon pool – a central shaft open to the air and sea that allows equipment to be deployed and recovered safely on rough seas. Multi-disciplinary research will be carried out onboard using the specialist labs and equipment. Portable containers acting as ‘plug in labs’ can be added to the ship.

RRs Sir David Attenborough virtual tour - Credits: Royal Museums Greenwich via Youtube

The ship carries several forms of next generation tech. It can simultaneously operate several remotely piloted scientific instruments. Robotic subs and marine gliders will enhance marine biology studies and airborne robotics will collect detailed information about the environment.

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