Billionaire’s gift pushes ocean sensors deeper in search of global warming’s hidden heat

On 7 September, billionaire Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen announced a $4 million partnership with the U.S. government that would be used to purchase 33 Deep Argo floats, capable of descending 6000 meters and reaching 99% of the ocean’s volume. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which pays for U.S. contributions to Argo, is calling it the first “formal public-private partnership for sustained ocean observation.”

NOAA itself already supports 28 Deep Argo floats, which are being tested in the southwest Pacific and eastern Indian oceans. But Allen’s batch, which were designed by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, will be the first to meet the full standards set by Argo’s scientific board. Whereas shallow Argo floats are made out of metal tubes, Deep Argo floats are the shape and size of an exercise ball, with a pressure-resistant glass sphere at their core. Like their shallow peers, the floats change their buoyancy by pumping oil into or out of an attached bladder. Carrying sensors to measure temperature, salinity, and depth, the floats will descend almost to the sea floor and drift. Every 15 days, they will rise to the surface to transmit data via satellite before diving again, says Gregory Johnson, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, Washington, who will lead the project.

After test runs, 25 of the floats will be deployed several years from now in deep international waters off the coast of Brazil using Allen’s private ship, the R/V Petrel. There, investigators hope to find missing heat from global warming. They want to build on what Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, says is Argo’s greatest contribution to science so far: an accurate gauge of how humans are warming the planet.

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New Wave Buoy to Measure Ocean Conditions

The Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) deployed a new wave buoy on June 6 near the entrance to Pearl Harbor approximately 1.5 miles offshore.

The wave buoy provides accurate information on wave height, direction and period and also measures surface currents and sea surface temperature.

Wave buoy data benefit the entire community and are important to make well-informed and safe decisions. Real-time wave information improves surf and ocean observations, and enhances wave modeling and surf forecasting. All wave buoy data are available online free of charge.

The wave buoy off Pearl Harbor is the first PacIOOS wave buoy with the capability to measure surface currents at 10-minute intervals. Currents data, along with wave information, will help to enhance marine safety, navigation and harbor operations on O‘ahu’s South Shore, in particular in the waters around Pearl Harbor.

PacIOOS is a Regional Association in support of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®).

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GCOOS Members Leading the Way to Create Ocean Technology Education Opportunities

With 15 ports, major shipbuilders, coastal tourism and substantial fisheries, Mississippi’s “blue economy” contributes billions of dollars to the state’s annual revenues. While these maritime industries dominate the state’s economy and support at least 35 percent of its entire workforce through “blue” jobs,
the sector is often overlooked as a source of economic development for the state.

Members of the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) based at the John C. Stennis Space Center complex are working to change that by developing new programs aimed at training a workforce knowledgeable in the tools and technologies that are crucial for maritime operations and for gaining a better understanding of the oceanic and coastal environments in the Gulf of Mexico.

The programs and opportunities being developed by ocean experts Joe Swaykos, who is Chief Scientist of the NOAA National Data Buoy Center and Secretary of the GCOOS Board of Directors, and Dr. Monty Graham, a GCOOS member and Director of the University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM) new School of Ocean Science and Technology, will help train new generations of experts in the operation of ocean-based robot systems and increase internship and employment opportunities for students and graduates.

GCOOS is a Regional Association in support of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®).

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After 20 Years of Exceptional EUMETSAT Service, Farewell to Meteosat-7

During the past four decades, the series of seven successive Meteosat first generation satellites established the foundations for the products and services EUMETSAT delivers today from the geostationary orbit in support of nowcasting of high impact weather and built up an archive of over 36 years of observations, an invaluable asset for climate change monitoring.

Over the last ten years, Meteosat-7 has been delivering observations of the Indian Ocean from geostationary orbit. This heritage mission has been provided by Meteosat first generation satellites ever since 1998. After the December 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, Meteosat-7 became an essential part of the Tsunami warning system, acting as a relay spacecraft for the Tsunami warning buoys that were put in place.

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Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Regional Association releases new five-year Strategic Plan

The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Regional Association (GCOOS-RA) has released a new five-year Strategic Plan designed to provide a roadmap for developing ocean tools, technologies and applications that will improve ocean forecasts, as well as our ability to protect the environment and support human safety and the Gulf economy.

The new GCOOS Strategic Plan 2017-2022 was based in-part on the input given by more than 630 individuals from 297 distinct organizations since 2005 and developed by the GCOOS Board of Directors and staff members. The Plan was unveiled during GCOOS’s recent board meeting and focuses on four key areas identified as most important by stakeholders and includes several themes that cut across each focus area.

GCOOS is a Regional Association in support of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®).

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To view 2017-2022 Strategic Plan, click here.