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Category Archives: Physical Oceanography

Pods Away! New Autonomous Data Pods Will Provide Low-Cost, Reliable Data Retrieval

AOML is preparing to deploy two autonomous data pod systems with Pressure Inverted Echo Sounders near the eastern boundary of the North Atlantic during March 2020.  This will be the first full scale operational deployment of data pods, with a goal of providing a low-cost solution for the sustained Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation monitoring without the continuous use of a research vessel. 

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Glider School, Class Is in Session!

AOML scientists recently traveled to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, respectively, to train members of the CARICOOS and ANAMAR ocean glider teams in the removal and installation of science sensors in the fleet of AOML underwater gliders. 

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Out at Sea With Our Heads in the Clouds

AOML is deploying drifting buoys as part of a large multinational project that aims to improve our current understanding of the complicated interactions between the air and sea which create shallow convective clouds.  NOAA scientists are interested in studying shallow cloud and air-sea interactions because of their influence on global conditions from temperature and precipitation to more extreme weather events.

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Argo Biogeochemical Sensors Poised to Enhance Ocean Observing Capability

Scientists are now looking to expand their observing capabilities to include the biology and chemistry of the oceans, currently available globally from ocean color satellites that measure chlorophyll, indicating algal blooms at the ocean surface. A recent paper in the Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology by AOML postdoctoral scientist Cyril Germineaud of the University of Miami’s Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies and colleagues shows that in close synergy with ocean color satellites, a global array of biogeochemical sensors complementing the existing core Argo network could revolutionize our knowledge of the changing state of primary productivity, ocean carbon cycling, ocean acidification, and the patterns of marine ecosystem variability from seasonal to interannual time scales. 

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Chasing Sargassum: New Insights on Coastal Sargassum Invasions

The ways in which Sargassum has invaded the tropical Atlantic have been a mystery, but we may now have an answer. A new study in Progress in Oceanography, led by researchers at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML), identifies possible mechanisms and pathways by which Sargassum entered and flourished in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean.

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TACOS Program Hits 25,000th Profile Milestone!

TACOS has added 10 acoustic current meters to the Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic (PIRATA) buoy, moored at 4N, 23W.  Profile measurements are taken every 1-10 minutes, depending on depth.  Prior to the addition of the TACOS upper ocean observations in March 6, 2017 velocity profiles were only collected at this location during shipboard surveys.  These measurements are important because ocean currents influence temperature, salinity, and air-sea fluxes in the tropical North Atlantic, which affect weather, climate, and fisheries of the surrounding continents.

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Follow the Sargassum: Tracking algae in the Atlantic , Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico

AOML researchers released an assortment of GPS equipped drifters into the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea to study how ocean currents and winds play a role in the distribution of Sargassum.  With the data obtained from the sargassum drifters along with satellite data from the University of South Florida, AOML researchers now have the ability to distribute weekly experimental Sargassum Index Reports. 

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Robots Probe Ocean Depths in Mission to Fine-Tune Hurricane Forecasts

Four ocean gliders set off to sea this week to bring back data that scientists hope will improve the accuracy of hurricane forecast models.The robotic, unmanned gliders are equipped with sensors to measure the salt content (salinity) and temperature as they move through the ocean at different depths.  The gliders, which can operate in hurricane conditions, collect data during dives down to a half mile below the sea surface, and transmit the data to satellites when they surface.  

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New Study Shows Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation and Mediterranean Sea Level are Connected

The global mean sea level rise caused by ocean warming and glacier melting over landforms such as Greenland is one of the most alarming aspects of a shifting global climate. However, the dynamics of the ocean and atmosphere further influence sea level changes region by region and over time. For example, along the U.S. East Coast, a pronounced acceleration of sea level rise in 2010-2015 was observed south of Cape Hatteras, while a deceleration occurred up North.  These patterns provide background conditions, on top of which shorter-period (and often stronger) weather-driven sea level fluctuations compound what coastal communities directly experience day by day. Therefore, to develop or improve regional sea level predictions, it’s important to identify these patterns and explore how they change over time.

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Global Meridional Overturning Circulation Revisited

Ocean tracers such as heat, salt and carbon are perpetually carried by the global meridional overturning circulation (GMOC) and redistributed between hemispheres and across ocean basins from their source regions. The GMOC is therefore a crucial component of the global heat, salt and carbon balances.

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