Ocean Glider Successfully Recovered by Team from UMass Dartmouth's School for Marine Science & Technology
A UMass Dartmouth ocean glider, aptly named Blue, was recovered in the late afternoon last week after completing its mission to study water properties in the Middle Atlantic Bight between Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras. Blue, recovered by a team from UMass Dartmouth's School for Marine Science & Technology (SMAST), ended its 21 day mission in which it saw-toothed its way to near-surface to near-bottom of the ocean around a triangular trajectory of about 555 kilometers.
Blue was part of a 5-glider fleet being deployed by the Mid Atlantic Regional Association Ocean Observing System (MARACOOS). The gliders' mission is to gather data on the coastal ocean environment so scientists can better understand the dynamics that affect ocean habitats. Blue was the first glider to deploy among the fleet. Led by Dr. Wendell Brown, an SMAST traveled out to Martha's Vineyard on September 6, 2013 to deploy the glider.
Blue has acquired data that defines the location of the eastern end of the Mid-Atlantic Cold Pool, which forms in late May, when the ocean surface warms and freshens, isolating the previous winter's cold water near the bottom-trapped Mid-Atlantic between Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras. Blue was also outfitted with an acoustic listening device that recorded especially-coded signals from a variety of tags that were mounted on numerous fish, including sturgeon, an endangered species.
"There is no question that the Glider Palooza results, with Blue's significant contributions, will improve our understanding and ability to forecast the state of the coastal ocean environment as well as several of its biologically-relevant characteristics," said Dr. Brown. "There is of course the probability that such a large-scale effort will lead to discoveries about the coast ocean."
As an example, Blue measured an unusual salinity structure in the Southeast corner of the triangle that may be a signature of a massive exchange event. Improved understanding of this event, may improve our ability to forecast the exchange of coastal ocean and deep ocean waters - something of interest to the fisheries community. In the coming months and years MARACOOS researchers will be analyzing Blue and Blue's fleet, which is making similar measurements off of Maryland, New Jersey, and the Gulf of Maine, and Nova Scotia.
The ocean glider is a 1.5 meter long cylindrical hull that 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 via satellite.
For live real-time observation of the glider fleet, go to http://assets.maracoos.org/.