The movement of carbon through the ocean twilight zone plays a major role in regulating the Earth’s climate—yet scientists don’t yet understand exactly how this cycle works.
In order to figure out how much carbon the twilight zone removes from the atmosphere, the OTZ team has designed a new submersible system called the Twilight Zone Explorer, or TZEx. The system is built on an existing French profiling float, a type of submersible instrument that can change its buoyancy at will. By inflating and deflating an onboard oil bladder, It can sink into deep water, stay there for a fixed time, and then rise back up again.
Using a set of high-resolution cameras, TZEx will record the movement of carbon-rich debris called "marine snow" as it sinks through the twilight zone. In doing so, it will give researchers new insight into the movement of organic carbon through the zone, helping them figure out the exact impact it has on global climate.