This just in – from Adam, K2ARB:
I spent this morning energizing a dozen oceanographic buoys sponsored by WHOI, Scripps and NOAA, shown here lying on the quay adjacent to the R/V Braveheart. We will deploy them as we head east toward Heard island. A large crowd of schoolchildren across the US are reportedly waiting to track them (and us) online. We sail tomorrow at 10:00 local (3:00am EST). Here is the full detail on this very interesting project:
|As they track their way across the stormy southern Indian Ocean from Cape Town to Perth, the 2016 Heard Island Expedition participants and the crew of the M/V Braveheart will launch a string of oceanographic buoys in support of climate research by three of the world’s leading scientific organizations: the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute(WHOI), the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
“Our expedition is committed to supporting science of the greatest importance, and climate change research is at the top of our list of priorities. We feel that assisting the oceanographic research of these institutions complements the land-based scientific work that we will undertake on Heard Island itself,” reports Dr. Robert Schmieder, organizer of the expedition.
The buoys are components of a coordinated worldwide deployment of several thousand buoys that scientific organizations have launched to measure the currents, sea temperatures and other environmental factors that are essential to understanding how the oceans fit into the earth’s deeply complex weather system.
“After years of study, the full role of the Southern Ocean in worldwide climate change remains unknown, and the ability of the Heard Island Expedition and the Braveheart to launch buoys for us in this rarely visited part of the world is of great assistance,” stated Dr. Pelle Robbins, Research Specialist in the Physical Oceanography Department at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.
The WHOI Argo Program
WHOI, as well as Scripps, are active participants in the worldwide consortium of scientific organizations that maintains the Argo Program, a constellation of nearly 4,000 diving buoys worldwide. The six-foot long cylindrical SOLO (Sounding Oceanographic Lagrangian Observer) buoys measure and transmit the basic physical state of the upper ocean by descending to depths of 6,000 feet by means of preprogrammed mechanical changes in buoyancy (see image above). Electronic sensors at the top end of each buoy record profiles of temperature, salinity and depth. As each buoy periodically resurfaces, it “phones home” by satellite and downloads its recorded data. The life expectancy of a SOLO buoy is 4 – 5 years and its mission can be reprogrammed remotely via satellite.
The NOAA Global Drifter Program
In addition to the ARGO buoys, the Heard Island Expedition will launch a group of “global drifting buoys” in behalf of NOAA and possibly the South African Weather Service. The 1,250 satellite tracked “drifters” worldwide remain on the surface during their approximately four-year lifespan, continuously reporting on their location as well as currents, sea surface temperature, atmospheric pressure, winds and salinity.
The Argo and drifting buoys will be launched by the Heard Island Expedition in the areas of greatest need, marked in red in the image below. “Because the location of the existing buoys is changing constantly, we will work during the voyage with the sponsoring scientific organizations to find the optimal site for each buoy that we deploy,” reports Adam Brown K2ARB, an Expedition participant and Antarctic veteran who was tasked with coordinating buoy deployment with the various scientific organizations and agencies.
As the Expedition launches each ARGO and global drifting buoy, the buoy’s unique serial number will be recorded and transmitted to the international organizations managing the buoy constellations. Once recorded, data from the buoys will be freely available on the Internet to scientists and the general public. The Expedition will publish on its website the serial numbers of its buoys.
To follow our buoys:
ARGO buoys: http://floats.pmel.noaa.gov/dataselect/select.php?area=INDIAN
We will update this blog site as soon as we have the actual serial numbers and information so you can track these buoys.