Global Ocean Observations

Hurricane Underwater Gliders

Hurricane Underwater Gliders

A partnership between NOAA, University of Miami, University of Puerto Rico, and Autoridad Nacional
de Asuntos Maritimos of the Dominican Republic

AOML/PHOD's and CIMAS/UM's scientists are leading a multi-institutional effort that brings together the research and operational components within NOAA and the university community to implement and carry out sustained and targeted ocean observations from underwater gliders in the Caribbean Sea and southwestern tropical North Atlantic Ocean and in support of CariCOOS (Caribbean Coastal Ocean Observing System). The upper ocean thermal structure in this region has been linked to rapid intensification of tropical cyclones, and to the seasonal Atlantic hurricane activity. However, there are only few (<300) upper ocean thermal observations carried out per year in this region.

The work carried out by this project will provide 3500 to 4500 profile observations of temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen per year during the two-year study, starting in 2014. In addition, and for the first time, current velocity profiles (starting in July 2015) will be obtained from the underwater gliders to assist hurricane forecast models to reproduce the key ocean dynamic processes associated with tropical storm-induced surface ocean cooling.

The main goal of this project is to deploy a pilot network of underwater gliders in the Caribbean Sea and Tropical North Atlantic Ocean to enhance our knowledge about the role that the ocean plays in the intensification of tropical cyclones, and to assess the impact of these observations on the tropical cyclone intensity forecast, and of seasonal forecasts. To accomplish this goal, the impact of upper ocean observations from the underwater gliders on (1) hurricane intensity forecasts and (2) hurricane seasonal forecasts will be assessed using a combination of these new sustained observations, targeted observations, data analysis, and current NOAA operational forecast models.

The red lines indicate the approximate track of the upcoming deployments on the week of July 14, 2014. Tracks of Cat. 1-5 cyclones (in grey) in a region of the Atlantic Warm Pool during 1993-2011, with circles indicating the location of their intensification. The background color is the Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential (proportional to the upper ocean heat content).

Data obtained from this work will be jointly analyzed with other available in situ observations, such as Argo floats, surface drifters, thermistor chains, XBTs, etc; and satellite observations, such as sea surface temperature, sea surface height, ocean color, etc. Of critical importance will be the joint analysis of the data collected through this project with those obtained through targeted observations, such as P3 flights that deploy a suite of marine and atmospheric sensors.

For additional information about this project please contact Dr. Gustavo Goni.


02/06/2015 - Underwater gliders deployed: Both underwater gliders, SG609 and SG10, have been successfully deployed on the Caribbean Sea on February 6. For this mission, a new sensor to measure dissolved oxygen concentration was installed on both gliders. Near-real time location of the gliders and plots of latest observations can be found here

11/20/2014 - Underwater gliders recovered: Both underwater gliders, SG609 and SG10, have been successfully recovered on the North Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea on November 18, and November 19, respectively. The recovery marks the completion of their first mission, with over 2,800 temperature and salinity profiles collected.

07/20/2014 - Underwater gliders deployed: Two underwater gliders have been successfully deployed off from Puerto Rico for their fist mission. The glider SG610 has been deployed in the Caribbean Sea on July 14, 2014, while the glider SG609 has been deployed on the North Atlantic Ocean on July 19, 2014. Near-real time location of the gliders and latest temperature and salinity observations can be found here

03/25/2014 - 1st Underwater Gliders Working Group Meeting: The first project meeting took place at AOML on March 25, 2014. The meeting addressed operational components of the project. Basic instructions on the deployment and recovery strategies have been provided to project members during a sea trial on March 26, 2014.