3, 2, 1, Launch: Running Tide Deploys Open-Ocean Satellites in the North Atlantic

We have less real time data about the ocean than we do about space. The ocean is the center of our climate system and by far the most powerful carbon removal system on the planet, and outer space is a cold, lifeless vacuum. Yet, everyday we spend billions of dollars developing and launching satellites into space to stare back down at the planet and confirm that life happens on Earth. 

Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have moved 2.4 trillion tons of carbon from the slow cycle to the fast, unearthing a Godzilla that has the power to destroy entire ecosystems. At Running Tide, we believe that if we are going to kill Godzilla and solve the climate crisis we need satellites in the ocean providing real-time biogeochemical and oceanographic data. We think of it as a diagnostics system to help us better understand the most powerful carbon removal system in the world — the ocean's biological carbon pump —  so we can design and implement a system to amplify it, rebalance the carbon cycle, restore ocean health, and create an abundant future for future generations on the only planet we have.   

So that’s what we’re doing. After five years of work and tens of millions of dollars of investment, we are proud to announce we’ve successfully deployed two separate constellations of Running Tide’s ocean observation platforms out of our base in Iceland.

A GIF of the movement of Running Tide's ocean satellites in the North Atlantic near Iceland
Tracking our movement of ocean satellites via space satellites

Since our first deployment in early December, our team at mission control in Portland has witnessed an unprecedented livestream of high resolution biogeochemical data and in-situ imagery. We have watched as the system has performed beautifully, even through a massive North Atlantic storm. We are also proud that our second deployment, launched this past Thursday, January 12th, was made possible through our partnership with Eimskip, whose vessels safely transported our ocean observation platforms into remote Atlantic waters.

Running Tide employees loading sensors and machine vision cameras onto an ocean vessel

Our ocean observation platform is loaded with sensors and underwater machine vision cameras, designed and built by our team of world-class engineers. These platforms provide an unprecedented live stream of data and imagery that is increasing our knowledge of the ocean. Our ocean modeling team is fast at work, feeding this stream of data into our ocean models, to increase our resolution of how our carbon removal system moves through the ocean, and ultimately moves carbon from the fast to slow carbon cycle.

A GIF of in-situ images recorded by Running Tide's machine vision cameras
A live stream of in-situ images coming through our machine vision cameras from the North Atlantic

A breakthrough of this magnitude requires a first-rate, interdisciplinary team to design, build, test, and deploy such a cutting-edge sensor system in the world's most challenging environment (space isn’t trying to eat your satellites). That is exactly the type of team we have built here at Running Tide. With agronomists, industrial designers, ecologists, marine scientists, fishers, system engineers, geologists, computational geneticists, and bioprocess engineers on staff, and a growing ecosystem of research and industrial partners, we’re tapping into the creativity of a cross-disciplined team to identify a variety of ocean health interventions, test them rapidly, and iterate to them to find optimal outcomes.

We’ve also developed a wide range of breakthrough technologies on the path to achieving a system capable of quantifying the power of the biological carbon pump. These include empirical testing technologies within our ocean laboratories, including onshore wave tanks, weathering tests, sophisticated ocean models, mesocosms, and ocean sensor buoys designed for estuarine, coastal, and offshore environments. These components link together to give us a deeper understanding of ocean biogeochemistry, and the ability to measure and model the positive and negative effects of any interventions our team or partners can conceptualize. 

A GIF of Running Tide's mission control dashboard with streams of data on ocean conditions
Our mission control dashboard with streams of data on ocean conditions

We have also developed the most cost-effective and sustainable suite of underwater cameras, fluorometers, firmware systems, housings in the industry. These include highly capable machine vision and optical sensing capabilities that allow us to measure biological growth in the ocean at a world best resolution. The data collection these cutting-edge technologies enable will allow our team to better understand how our verification hardware moves through and interacts with the ocean in real world conditions. Building our verification hardware in-house also allows us to customize, adjust, and de-materialize efficiently so that we may maximize information gained from the ocean while mitigating ecological impacts.

When we started Running Tide, the dream was to develop the ocean restoration industry from a limited scale that was operating through philanthropic efforts, to the highest level of industrial operations in the world, fully integrated into global academic, research, financial, and policy systems. Building an operable open ocean verification system is the key to unlocking ocean-based carbon removal, and fixing the data gap between natural systems and capital systems. 

The journey from conceptualizing to deploying our sensors today has seen us diligently test our systems in some of the harshest environments on Earth. Our wide array of experience in maritime operations and logistics has given us the capability to traverse thousands of miles of open ocean in offshore fishing trawlers and coastal vessels; testing, failing, fixing, and iterating. We’ve been wet, cold, and tired. We’ve broken things ten times and fixed them eleven. There’s been long nights and early mornings, and sometimes there has been no distinction between the two. We’ve persevered, responding to each challenge with a high level of engineering discipline. 

Running Tide employees moving equipment on an ocean vessel

This work would not have been possible without the generous and steadfast support of our partners, including the Grantham Foundation, Ocean Visions, CZI, Shopify, Stripe, Microsoft, Northeastern University, Cambridge University, as well as our investors and independent Scientific Advisory Board — all for who we are eternally grateful. 

In 2023, in collaboration with a variety of scientific, academic, and market partners, we will utilize this verification system to begin generating the world's first verifiable ocean carbon removal credits. The verification platform we are building is the foundation of a system capable of quantifying and verifying a host of ecosystem services credits including  nitrogen abatement credits and biodiversity credits. Bringing ecosystem services inside of our global financial system is a paradigm-shifting opportunity to invest in natural capital. We believe this quantification system is the scientific and engineering foundation on which we can build the ocean restoration industry that will help us balance the carbon cycle, kill Godzilla, and restore and preserve biodiversity for future generations. Because life happens here on Earth.

A Running Tide employee wearing an orange jacket with the company logo while hoisting ocean observation technology from a pick-up truck

3, 2, 1, Launch: Running Tide Deploys Open-Ocean Satellites in the North Atlantic
Team Running Tide
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