National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory

Physical Oceanography Division

PIRATA Northeast Extension Research Cruise Underway

The PIRATA Northeast Extension cruise started on March 4 aboard the R/V Ronald H Brown (picture below) with Dr. Greg Foltz (PhOD) as chief scientist. Charles Featherstone and Diego Ugaz (CIMAS) will also be participating. The cruise departed from Ft. Lauderdale and will arrive in Durban, South Africa on April 12. During the cruise, four PIRATA moorings will be serviced, 68 CTD/O2/LADCP casts performed, 16 Argo floats deployed, and several surface drifting buoys launched.

PIRATA Buoy with NOAA Research Vessel Ron Brown in the background

This cruise also supports a field study to assess the pathways of marine debris and Sargassum in the tropical Atlantic and to assess the impact of wind on their trajectories will be conducted during the month March. Fifty specialized designed drifters of various shapes (picture below) simulating common marine debris and Sargassum, and surface drifters will be deployed during the PIRATA Northeast Extension cruise. The specialized drifters will be tracked in real time using GPS transmissions. A web page is also being developed which will allow users to determine the source of debris using satellite-derived ocean currents and winds, and will also serve to project potential trajectories of debris in the ocean. This is an effort lead by personnel from PHOD (Gustavo Goni, Rick Lumpkin, and Ulisses Rivero), NOAA/NESDIS/Coastwatch (Trinanes) and the University of Miami (Olascoaga).

Satellite-tracked surface drifters of different shapes custom designed and made by PhOD personnel to investigate dispersion of marine debris.