Boaty McBoatface, OG Internet Legend, Just Made A Major Climate Science Discovery
The year was 2016. Donald Trump was months away from snatching the American presidency from the jaws of good sense, Finding Dory was somehow grossing the GNP of a small nation, and the world was falling in love with a scientific vessel named Boaty McBoatface.
For those of you who don’t remember boat fever, the story unfurled a little something like this: early that year, Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council decided, somewhat dangerously, to turn to the internet to help name a new polar research vessel. Although a range of sensible suggestions did modestly well in the name poll, with Shackleton and Falcon two of the favourites to win, the internet had other plans, and Boaty McBoatface took the crown by a country mile.
But, like the villain in a children’s film that also features a talking dog, the U.K.’s science minister decided to quash all that fun, vetoing the outcome of the poll and naming the ship Sir David Attenborough instead. But the internet didn’t walk away empty-headed, as a small, unmanned sub was named Boaty McBoatface as a kind of commiseration prize.
Well, looks like that commiseration prize has paid off in a major way. Yep, ole Boaty McBoatface has just made a major scientific discovery, collecting “a wealth” of data pertaining to arctic winds that will become invaluable to scientists over the coming years as they attempt to understand how climate change is altering the face of our planet.
“In recent decades, winds blowing over the Southern Ocean have been getting stronger due to the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica and increasing greenhouse gases,” scientists said of McBoatface’s discovery.
Those changes in winds have also altered the way that cold and warm water is mixing — which is where our intrepid little sub comes in. McBoatface collected a “spatial picture” of the movement of cold and warm water, allowing scientists to start predicting how the change in temperature might have further implications.
So there you have it — climate change might be on track to murder us all, but at least we have McBoatface on our side.
Feature image via the National Oceanography Cent