In further news about awesome people doing awesome things, a team from the University of Washington is installing a series of nodes on the sea floor — something akin to a “giant electrical outlet” the size of a Volkswagen Beetle — to provide Internet connectivity and power for real-time observations of the ocean.

On July 14, the University of Washington reported that they laid the first node 9,500 feet deep, approximately 75 miles southwest of Pacific City, Ore. As of this past weekend, they had deployed three nodes, with four more to go. After installation along the ocean floor, the nodes will be connected to smaller nodes and several ocean observatories to share real-time data and power for the next 25 years. The last node is scheduled for installation on Aug. 16.

The University of Washington is leading this Regional Scale Nodes effort, which is part of the National Science Foundation’s Ocean Observatories Initiative, a long-term research project to study climate change, ocean circulation, ecosystems and plate-scale geodynamics.

The system should begin operating in late 2013 and be fully operational by 2014, providing realt-time information on everything from underwater volcanoes to marine plants and animals. The study sites will also be connected to the Internet for the curious on land.

For now, you can follow the installation process via blog posts, courtesy of Cecile Durand, Ocean Observatories Initiative marine maintenance manager at the UW.

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