2016-2017 Science Planning Summaries
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2016-2017 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Sustained measurements of Southern Ocean air-sea coupling from a mobile autonomous platform

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Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Peter Milne

ASC POC/Implementer:
Chelsea Wegner / Adam Jenkins

Principal Investigator

Dr. James Bannister Girton

University of Washington
Seattle, Washington


Supporting Stations: ARSV Laurence M. Gould, RV/IB Nathaniel B. Palmer
Research Locations: Drake Passage / Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) Southern Ocean Array


The coupled air-sea dynamics of the Southern Ocean play a critical role in the ocean’s transport and storage of heat and carbon dioxide and the response of these processes to climate change. This project seeks to enhance the capability to observe these dynamics with autonomous technology by deploying a Liquid Robotics Wave Glider SV3 for five months to measure surface waves, temperature and salinity, upper-ocean currents, barometric pressure, and winds. The Wave Glider will be deployed at the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) Southern Ocean array from the RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer (NBP). For the first two to three months of its deployment, the glider will study spatial structure and will cross-calibrate the various sensors at the OOI array and their responses to vehicle heading and wind and wave conditions. For the next two months, the glider will transit to the Drake Passage and conduct an underway downstream grid survey of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC). Next, it will collect time-series measurements in the weak-current region between the Polar Front and the southern ACC. The glider will be recovered by the ARSV Laurence M. Gould (LMG) in late March or early April.

Field Season Overview

Two participants will sail on the OOI Southern Ocean cruise (NBP16-10). The team will deploy the Wave Glider using a mechanical wire from the starboard A-frame upon first arrival at the OOI Array. This will allow sufficient time to review the performance and data quality of the Wave Glider before OOI operations are concluded and the NBP leaves the area. The deployment will require approximately one hour of ship time. The team will also compare wind and other measurements gathered by the Wave Glider against those gathered by the NBP. In the event that the Wave Glider is damaged on deployment or while the NBP is on site at the OOI Array, inspection by small boat operations or recovery by the NBP will be attempted as conditions allow. The glider will be recovered on an LMG transit cruise in March or April, 2017.

Deploying Team Members

  • Alex de Klerk