Combining science and holiday-making, the cruise ship Celebrity Equinox (www.celebritycruises.com) has become the third Royal Caribbean (RCCL) vessel to feature technology that helps scientists understand effects of climate change. By monitoring oceanographic and atmospheric conditions, instruments placed on board the luxury mega-ship will work anonymously while cruisers enjoy the best in dining, entertainment and relaxation.
In the beginning of May, Celebrity Cruises’ Equinox completed its scheduled dry dock in Cadiz, Spain, and joined Royal Caribbean International’s Allure of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas in a program that tracks ocean circulation dynamics and measures atmospheric and oceanographic conditions on repeated cruises. These ships are known for extraordinary service, award-winning cuisine and innovative experiences at sea. Not as well known to passengers on board – but critically important worldwide – is the scientific research conducted on these three ships by the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.
The scientists record ocean temperature, salinity, and chlorophyll concentration, as well as properties of the ocean’s surface, such as reflectance and absorbance. In addition, they measure wind speed, wind direction, barometric pressure and humidity. Data like this helps to monitor, understand, and forecast climate change and its effects on marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs. They protect coastlines from storms and help sustain the livelihoods of local people, especially in developing countries, where coral reefs contribute about one-quarter of the annual total fish catch, providing food to nearly one billion people in Asia.
The collected data provides invaluable assistance in calibrating and verifying the American and European satellites monitoring climate change throughout the ocean,” according to Dr. Peter B. Ortner, Director of the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies at the University of Miami. He revealed that “Smaller packets of data are transmitted on an hourly basis through RCCL’s regular satellite link and large data sets will be sent back via Internet connection when the ship is in port.”
“Royal Caribbean is extremely proud of the collaboration with the OceanScope program to foster greater understanding of the global climate system and the oceans on which our ships sail,” said Rich Pruitt, Royal Caribbean’s Vice President of Safety and Environmental Stewardship. He added, “Our business depends on ocean health, and part of protecting ocean health is through understanding the atmosphere and its effects.”
These writers can attest to Pruitt’s qualifications and passion for the environment and passengers – having met with him in the ship’s restaurant Qsine during the USA inauguration in Miami of the Solstice-class Celebrity Eclipse in 2010.
Funded in part by Royal Caribbean’s Ocean Fund, The University of Miami’s OceanScope equipment on Explorer of the Seas has tracked ocean circulation dynamics since 2000, in the North Atlantic basin that the ship sails through while on Bermuda and Caribbean routes. The Allure of the Seas lab tracks these conditions through the Eastern and Western Caribbean, and has done so since 2012. The installation of an OceanScope lab on Celebrity Equinox will provide insight into the ocean dynamics in the Mediterranean Sea, across the North Atlantic and along the Iberian Peninsula.
The Ocean Fund was created in 1996, to support marine conservation organizations in safeguarding the health of the world’s oceans and coastal communities. The Fund aims to support efforts to restore and maintain a healthy marine environment, minimize the impact of human activity on the environment, and promote awareness of ocean and coastal issues and respect for marine life. Since the fund was established, RCCL has given over $13 million to over 75 organizations around the world for projects that relate to ocean science, climate change, key marine species, education and innovative technologies. Additional information can be found on www.royalcaribbean.com,
The Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world’s premier research institutions since its founding in the 1940’s. The school is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, please visit www.rsmas.miami.edu
By Don Church and Tony Schillaci, Out and Travelin’