Working together to develop innovative ways to observe and measure ocean processes

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season included 17 named storms and featured the highest number of major hurricanes since 2005. With the greatest number of hurricanes ever observed in the Atlantic basin, 2017 was by far the costliest season on record, with almost $300 billion USD in damages, and yet, only eleven named storms and up to four hurricanes had been predicted.

How much damage could have been prevented and how many lives could have been saved if we had a better prediction of the location, wind speeds, and storm surge of these severe atmosphere-ocean events?

The fundamental problem is a lack of resources on all fronts. To be successful in increasing our understanding and predictive capabilities of this complex system, we must work together.

Eastman Foundation supported a pilot program involving the deployment of a Spray glider to collect and disseminate data from the Gulf Stream. The autonomous underwater glider collects valuable data on ocean temperature, salinity, depth, chlorophyll content and speed of ocean currents. Surprisingly, this was the first continuous measurement of information of this type from one of the world’s most important ocean currents. With the support of Eastman, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and WHOI, the project was successful and is now receiving funding from other entities as these gliders send real time data in advance of severe weather events.

View glider data from the project here and here.

To learn more about Robert Todd's work with Spray gliders at WHOI,
please view his published studies: High-frequency internal waves and thick bottom mixed layers observed by gliders in the Gulf Stream and Underwater Glider Observations and the Representation of Western Boundary Currents in Numerical Models.