SMAST underwater robot on mission to capture valuable ocean data

School for Marine Science & Technology Professor Wendell Brown and team have deployed ocean glider “Blue” to capture ocean data in preparation for summer hurricane season

Glider Blue 1
The glider’s mission is to gather data on the coastal ocean environment so scientists can better understand the dynamics that affect ocean habitats.

UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science & Technology (SMAST) Professor Wendell Brown and his research team have once again deployed ocean glider “Blue” to capture valuable ocean data in preparation for the summer hurricane season. The five-foot autonomous underwater vehicle has spent close to a month assisting scientists in the collection of data by running programmed routes south of New England. Recovery of “Blue” is expected as early as next week.

The glider’s mission is to gather data on the coastal ocean environment so scientists can better understand the dynamics that affect ocean habitats. Dr. Brown and his research team utilize “Blue” to detect and track oceanic features (i.e. upwelling events, red-tides, and coastal eddies) from their formation to dissipation, improving current understanding of the nature of coastal ecosystems, such as the Cold Pool, and providing earlier detection of oceanic features that develop offshore and into coastal waters. When recovered, Blue will have assembled an amazing mass of ocean data.

Glider Blue 2
Research Associate Matthew Grossi (above) joined Dr. Brown, along with Research Assistant Kathryn Tremblay , and Ray Rock, Captain of the R/V Lucky Lady, for the launch of "Blue" west of Martha’s Vineyard.

The ocean glider contains a battery-powered, computer-controlled system to operate at sea while making a whole variety of independent ocean property measurements. These particular gliders are able to travel 500-600 km in 24 to 28 days. Typically they are programmed to surface every 3 hours at which time they obtain a GPS fix and transmit scientific and engineering data to Dr. Brown and SMAST to process and do preliminary analysis of the data.

UMass Dartmouth was elevated to Doctoral University – Higher Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education following the release of its final 2015 classification in February. The only Bay State research university located south of Boston distinguishes itself as a vibrant public university actively engaged in personalized teaching and innovative research, and acting as an intellectual catalyst for regional economic, social, and cultural development. UMass Dartmouth's mandate to serve its community is realized through countless partnerships, programs, and other outreach efforts to engage the community, and apply its knowledge to help address local issues and empower others to facilitate change for all.


News and Public Information, School for Marine Science and Technology, Research