South African Schooner is the Newest Partner in NOAA's Ocean Observing Program
The Lady Amber is a 38 tonne, 20-meter schooner owned by Captain Peter Flanagan and operated by a crew of four. Captain Flanagan offered the Lady Amber to assist the international oceanographic community in its efforts to deploy ocean-observing instruments.
In early December, researchers with the South Atlantic Argo Regional Center at AOML finalized plans for an Argo float and drifter buoy deployment cruise aboard the sailing ship Lady Amber, a privately owned and operated South African schooner. The Lady Amber will deploy 38 Argo profiling floats and 16 satellite‑tracked drifting buoys into data‑sparse regions of the South Atlantic Ocean not easily accessed by ships of opportunity.
Shortly before Christmas, the Lady Amber departed Cape Town, South Africa to begin the two‑month long deployment cruise, which will cover an estimated 8,980 miles. Sailing northward along the west coast of Africa (see graphic at right) the Lady Amber will deploy floats and drifters offshore of coastal upwelling regions before journeying westward into the central Atlantic Ocean. Turning south at 32°S, the Lady Amber will deploy additional floats and drifters to help fill two large data‑poor areas before returning to Cape Town near the end of February 2013.
Argo profiling floats measure the temperature and salinity of the ocean from the surface to depths as great as 2000 m, while satellite‑tracked drifting buoys measure sea surface temperatures and near surface currents. The data generated from these ocean-observing instruments are used in weather forecasts, seasonal to interannual climate predictions, and climate research.