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Researchers use ‘robomussels’ to monitor climate change

Photo of a school of fish

For the past 18 years, Brian Hel­muth, pro­fessor in the Col­lege of Sci­ence and the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, and a global research team of 48 sci­en­tists have used robo­mus­sels to study how climate change affects biodiversity.

Tiny robots have been helping researchers study how cli­mate change affects bio­di­ver­sity. Devel­oped by North­eastern Uni­ver­sity sci­en­tist Brian Hel­muth, the “robo­mus­sels” have the shape, size, and color of actual mus­sels, with minia­ture built-in sen­sors that track tem­per­a­tures inside the mussel beds.

For the past 18 years, every 10 to 15 min­utes, Hel­muth, pro­fessor in the Col­lege of Sci­ence and the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, and a global research team of 48 sci­en­tists have used robo­mus­sels to track internal body tem­per­a­ture, which is deter­mined by the tem­per­a­ture of the sur­rounding air or water, and the amount of solar radi­a­tion the devices absorb. They place the robots inside mussel beds in oceans around the globe and record tem­per­a­tures. The researchers have built a data­base of nearly two decades worth of data enabling sci­en­tists to pin­point areas of unusual warming, inter­vene to help curb damage to vital marine ecosys­tems, and develop strate­gies that could pre­vent extinc­tion of cer­tain species.

Read the story at news@Northeastern.

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