AOML
NOAA

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory

Physical Oceanography Division

Adopt a Drifter Program on the Weather Channel


In celebration of Earth Day, three students from the Key Biscayne K-8 Center, Key Biscayne, FL deployed a NOAA drifter on April 27 as part of the Adopt-A-Drifter Program, in partnership with students from the International Preparatory School in Santiago, Chile. The three Florida students were top winners in a competition to describe the significance of the ocean in their lives. As part of this event, Rick Lumpkin was interviewed on the Weather Channel where he described NOAA's Global Drifter Program and the Adopt-A-Drifter outreach effort.


The three students, Carmen Mollet, 15, Guillermina Pons, 14, and Sophia Ortega, 12, were top winners in a competition to describe the significance of the ocean in their lives.

"We're extremely proud of our students. Each won a prize in NOAA's Adopt a Drifter contest, which gives students across the country, many with international partners, the chance to learn about our environment right in their classrooms, and with the same near real time data that ocean and climate scientists use," said Erica Cheva, lead science teacher at Key Biscayne K-8 Center.

"A drifting buoy is like a 21st-century message in a bottle, except it is equipped with oceanographic and climate sensors that let it transmit scientific measurements by satellite, helping us understand the oceans," said Kathryn D. Sullivan, Ph.D., NOAA assistant secretary for environmental observation and prediction. "With better understanding, we can better predict the strength of approaching hurricanes, the distribution of fish and other marine species, and the fate of marine pollution and debris. Students in schools across the country can adopt a drifter, and follow its journey via the internet. This relationship makes climate and ocean science more tangible, as students discover the workings of the earth through the lens of their buoy."

The 44-pound drifter will collect data about ocean currents and also measure surface temperature. These currents carry heat from place to place, which affects climate. While satellite technology makes sea surface temperature measurements possible from space, drifters are needed to ensure these measurements are accurate. Without drifter observations to correct satellite measurements, dust and other elements in the atmosphere can cause errors. Each drifter is part of a global ocean array that students can follow online, along with the particular drifter they adopted.

While NOAA's Global Drifter Program deploys, monitors, and collects data from buoys all over the world's oceans, the program is locally managed out of NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) on Virginia Key.

"The goal of NOAA's Global Drifter Program is to maintain a global array of satellite-tracked drifters, and to provide valuable climate and weather data to the forecasting and research community," said Rick Lumpkin, Ph.D., scientific director of the Global Drifter Program at AOML. "This drifter provides an excellent opportunity for children to learn more about the ocean as it tracks currents and eddies." As part of this event Lumpkin was interviewed on the Weather Channel, and described NOAA's Global Drifter Program and the Adopt-A-Drifter outreach effort.

Student drifter events marking Earth Day are also underway this month in Boston, Maui, Mobile, Ala., Seattle, and Santa Barbara.