Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ocean Instrument Program Led By Scripps Set To Achieve World Coverage

Date:
September 19, 2005
Source:
University of California - San Diego
Summary:
An ambitious idea spawned more than 20 years ago to develop a new way to watch the world change has come to fruition. The Global Drifter Program (GDP), largely led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, and Scripps Distinguished Professor Peter Niiler, will meet its lofty goal of blanketing the globe on Sept. 18 when the program's 1,250th instrument is dropped in the ocean off Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Although the GDP has met its goal of populating the global ocean with 1,250 drifters, the array of instruments has become so valuable to science and other applications that the network will continue to grow. Challenges associated with drifter deployments in areas rarely visited by ships will be addressed by increasing future deployments by air. Drifters are now deployed by the United States Air Force's "Hurricane Hunter Squadron" in front of hurricanes to obtain data on hurricane strength and size.
Credit: Image courtesy of Scripps Institution of Oceanography

An ambitious idea spawned more than 20 years ago to develop a new way to watch the world change has come to fruition.

TheGlobal Drifter Program (GDP), largely led by Scripps Institution ofOceanography at the University of California, San Diego, and ScrippsDistinguished Professor Peter Niiler, will meet its lofty goal ofblanketing the globe on Sept. 18 when the program's 1,250th instrumentis dropped in the ocean off Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

GDPbuoys, also called drifters, are designed to travel the oceans takingmeasurements of sea surface temperatures, ocean currents, air pressureand other parameters. By linking and disseminating the informationrelayed from each of these instruments in a global network, scientistsand others have been able to produce new details about the world'socean processes, key information for weather and climate forecastingand important calibrations of satellite readings.

"When the GDPdrifter data is combined with satellite measurements we can now obtaina complete, accurate map of the sea surface temperature of the worldtwice per week," said Niiler, a scientist in the Physical OceanographyResearch Division at Scripps. "These 'weather maps' of the oceansurface will tell us how Earth is warming up and where it is warmingmore than in other places. These combined data also give us an accuratepicture of the changing currents and patterns of ocean circulation."

TheGDP is a component of the National Oceanic and AtmosphericAdministration's (NOAA) Global Ocean Observing System and GlobalClimate Observing System.

According to Niiler, more than 250research papers have been published with new findings derived throughGDP circulation measurements. Many more have used its sea temperaturemeasurements. Topics have ranged from El Niños and La Niñas to globalclimate change.

Niiler believes the impact of GDP informationwill continue to grow because of the distinct characteristics displayedin current systems off coasts around the world. Analyzing the strongestnorth-south current system in the world, the Agulhas Current off theeastern coast of South Africa, tells a much different story thanstudying the California Current, the north-south circulation of thenorth Pacific Ocean that travels just off California's waters.

"TheGDP observations are of great interest to people all over the world,"said Niiler. "If you want to know what's happening in your backyard, oryou want to know what's happening on a global basis, these data willassist you."

When Niiler called a meeting of scientists inBoulder, Colo., in 1982, surface temperature readings and circulationpatterns were a mystery in large regions of the world, especially inthe Southern Ocean.

"A large part of the world simply could notbe sampled," said Niiler, "because most of the world's ships don't gothere. We needed a new way."

Niiler and his colleagues resolvedthat such gaps could only be filled with a completely new system ofobserving the entire Earth's oceans. They also decided that thismission could only be accomplished with the development of new oceaninstruments.

With long-term support from Scripps, Niiler and hiscolleagues began to work with engineers in designing and developinglow-cost, rugged drifters that measure currents with high accuracy andrelay their sensor information through existing satellitecommunications systems. Scripps and Niiler eventually led the design,manufacture, deployment and research analysis of the program. YetScripps scientists could not do it all alone, Niiler stresses, andnational and international partners played a significant role in theprogram's development through organizations that include NOAA'sAtlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, variousmeteorological groups, oceanographers from 20 countries and nearly allUnited States government research funding agencies. In the future, NOAAwill provide about 80 percent of the drifters to maintain the array.

Althoughthe GDP has met its goal of populating the global ocean with 1,250drifters, the array of instruments has become so valuable to scienceand other applications that the network will continue to grow.Challenges associated with drifter deployments in areas rarely visitedby ships will be addressed by increasing future deployments by air.Drifters are now deployed by the United States Air Force's "HurricaneHunter Squadron" in front of hurricanes to obtain data on hurricanestrength and size.

New ways of using the drifters as platformsfor environmental sensors also are being explored, includingmeasurements for rain, biochemical concentrations and surfaceconductivity.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - San Diego. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - San Diego. "Ocean Instrument Program Led By Scripps Set To Achieve World Coverage." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 September 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050919083059.htm>.
University of California - San Diego. (2005, September 19). Ocean Instrument Program Led By Scripps Set To Achieve World Coverage. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050919083059.htm
University of California - San Diego. "Ocean Instrument Program Led By Scripps Set To Achieve World Coverage." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050919083059.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) — An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) — Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins