Gliders prove their worth in the Southern Ocean 

Autonomous gliders continue to prove their worth in collecting mesoscale physical-chemical-biological data in the Southern Ocean.   The platforms provide a unique tool that fills the observational gap between ships and the high-resolution sampling that can be provided by propeller autonomous vehicles.  Many groups from Southern Ocean global community (South Africa, United Kingdom, United States) have begun to incorporate gliders into their field programs.  Quite often, the glider data is available to the wider community in near real-time.  Formalizing the means to increase the availability through networks such the Southern Ocean Observing System is critical. The modularity of the gliders allows the science sensors on the platforms to be customized to serve the specific scientific needs of the mission being conducted.  The scientific data that can be collected by gliders includes temperature, salinity, currents, oxygen, dissolved organic matter/chlorophyll fluorescence, fast repetition rate fluorometry, optical backscatter, and active/passive acoustics.  


Figure:  Recent deployment tracks of Rutger's autonomous gliders.  


Recent work by Rutgers

As an example, I highlight glider efforts conducted by Rutgers.  Our team has conducted extensive glider operations in the Amundsen Sea, Ross Sea and along the West Antarctic Peninsula (see Figure).  Focusing onthe West Antarctic peninsula, gliders have been critical new tools for conducting a range of sustained science missions.  Over the last six years, Rutgers has conducted 41 glider missions representing 468 days at sea and 8056 kilometers flown underwater.  These glider missions have been used to study the onshore transport of heat in subsurface eddies, tidal dynamics in coastal dynamics, phytoplankton bloom ecology, and penguin foraging. Efforts in coming years will focus on using gliders to link the land-based field stations to provide the foundations for a sustained and coherent sampling capability over the scale of West Antarctic.  Similar networks will be deployed in the other regions of the Antarctic coastal regions.  

For more information please contact Oscar Schofield.  
oscar at marine dot rutgers dot edu



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