Putting (Very) Smart Buoys to Work

Specially-designed Argo floats can also travel deeper than 6,500 feet (2,000 meters) to 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) or even close to 20,000 feet (6,000 meters), while others are equipped with sensors that measure dissolved oxygen and pH, allowing scientists to monitor the health of the global ocean for marine organisms.

SOFAR Ocean will also be sending Spotter buoys to be deployed during the Endurance22 Expedition. These buoys remain at the surface of the ocean, but drift with surface currents. These drifter buoys are equipped with sensors to determine wind speed and direction, the surface ocean wave spectrum and sea surface temperature. The Spotters are also designed with solar panels, allowing continuous observations as the batteries powering the sensors are charged by the sun.

While onboard the ship, our team of physical oceanographers will also be making surface meteorology observations which are sent in near-real time to the Global Telecommunications System (GTS) and ingested into global weather forecast models. This means that all the data collected on the ship by meteorological sensors (along with the data that comes from ocean observing systems deployed in the ocean) will help global forecast models predict the weather in the near-term. Our greatest asset, then, when trying to understand both the short-term weather and the long-term climate, is to measure what happens out at sea!

The team will also be continuing some research they are doing to understand the marginal sea ice zone, using cameras and human observations. Satellite images over the Southern Ocean and Antarctica are sparse – meaning there is not much to begin with.