Hurricane Gliders

Improving Hurricane Forecasts With Upper Ocean Observations

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Background

How do ocean observations improve hurricane forecasts?

Sampling the ocean below a hurricane helps improve hurricane intensity forecasts.

Improvements in hurricane intensity forecasts for the Atlantic have lagged in comparison to hurricane track forecasts. Rapid hurricane intensification is often observed when tropical cyclones move over warm ocean features, given appropriate atmospheric conditions. AOML plays a key role in collecting and maintaining sustained ocean observations that monitor the thermal structure of these warm ocean features using drifters, Argo floats, XBTs, moorings, etc. Since 2014, sustained and targeted ocean observations have been gathered in support of hurricane intensity forecasts using underwater gliders.

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What is the hurricane glider project?

NOAA/AOML leads 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 tropical North Atlantic Ocean in support of hurricane studies and forecasts.

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How do underwater gliders work?

An underwater glider is an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that uses small changes in buoyancy together with wings to propel itself by converting vertical motion into horizontal motion. Thanks to a very small consumption of energy, underwater gliders have longer ranges when compared to other AUVs, with a capacity to measure several ocean parameters during a period of weeks or months along thousands of kilometers. Gliders use different sensors to measure ocean temperature and salinity profiles. Depending on the instruments installed in the devise, they can also measure ocean currents, chlorophyll fluorescence, optical backscatter, and bottom depth among other parameters. Gliders are commanded remotely via satellite and data transmissions are performed in real-time.

 

Image Credit: Kongsberg Seaglider 

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What type of information is collected by the gliders and where does it go?

Underwater gliders provide information about the properties of the seawater. All underwater gliders have the capability of measuring temperature, salinity, and pressure. Additional sensors may also be included, such as chlorophyll fluorometers, oxygen sensors, and ocean current profilers.

AOML Underwater gliders currently have sensors to monitor the following parameters:

  • Temperature
  • Salinity
  • Dissolved Oxygen
  • Chlorophyll Concentration
  • CDOM – Chromophoric Dissolved Organic Matter

 

Transmission & data delivery

After each dive, the vehicle surfaces to transmit the data collected and receive commands via satellite telemetry. Data is obtained in near real time at the laboratory. Jump to the Our Data section for Glider Data.

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How is AOML using glider missions to improve forecasts?

 

The benefits of hurricane gliders are two-fold. First, the gliders that are deployed in a given season will send back observations which are used to better represent the ocean conditions in NOAA’s operational hurricane models. This ocean data can help improve the National Hurricane Center’s forecasts for current storms.

Secondly, the data collected from the gliders is used by our oceanographers and model experts to help validate how the ocean data improved the forecast guidance, and if changes to the model code or how data is assimilated is needed. We use our understanding of the ocean to help improve how the ocean is represented in operational models, with a goal that future model versions will more accurately forecast ocean conditions and help drive improvements to intensity forecasts.

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Who We Are

The genesis, path, and intensity of Atlantic Ocean hurricanes are linked to atmospheric and ocean conditions. During the last 20 years, the improvements of hurricane intensity forecasts, and in particular of rapid intensification, have lagged behind those of hurricane track forecasts.

In general, when the appropriate atmospheric conditions (e.g. low wind shear or change of wind velocity with height) are present, hurricanes have the potential to intensify when a ocean conditions are optimal to provide heat energy. Studies have shown that hurricane models that incorporate ocean temperature and salinity data from the upper hundred meters of the ocean have more accurate intensity forecasts. For example, ocean features with high heat content and/or low salinity values may create conditions that are appropriate for hurricane intensification. The correct representation of these ocean features is key to improving hurricane intensification guidance. Our team of scientists, engineers, pilots and data specialists make this research possible.

Project members:

Gustavo Goni (Principal Investigator), Ricardo Domingues, Francis Bringas, Grant Rawson, Ulisses Rivero, Patrick Halsall, Zachary Barton, Diego Ugaz.

Photo of AOML and International Partners Ready to Deploy Gliders for Hurricane Season 2019. Photo Credit: NOAA AOML.
Photo of Several Project Members and International Partners Ready to Deploy Gliders for Hurricane Season 2019. Photo Credit: NOAA AOML.

What We Do

Research Objectives

The goal of this work is to enhance our understanding of air-sea interaction processes during hurricane force wind events. In order to accomplish this goal, a pilot network of hurricane underwater gliders is implemented to:

  • Assess the impact of hurricane force winds on upper ocean density structure, and
  • Assess the impact of ocean profile data from underwater gliders in operational hurricane intensity forecasts

Video: Gliding Into Hurricane Intensity Forecasts

Scientists Grant Rawson and Gustavo Goni Deploying Underwater Gliders in Puerto Rico.

gliderdata

Glider Data

Additionally, data for each dive by each underwater gliders is in NetCDF format and updated every 6 hours in the FTP link below.

*Please acknowledge as follows: Underwater glider data provided by NOAA/AOML as part of the NOAA funded “Sustained and Targeted Ocean Observations for Improving Tropical Cyclone Intensity and Hurricane Seasonal Forecasts” Project

Sampling Methods

Video: NOAA AOML’s Underwater Glider Project

Learn about the details about NOAA’s underwater glider project. See how sampling occurs and how this valuable data is used to help better predict when and where hurricanes will make landfall.

The refurbished gliders are loaded and ready to go. Image credit: NOAA

Photos from the Field

Featured Publication

Featured Publication

Impact of Assimilating Underwater Glider Data on Hurricane Gonzalo (2014) Forecast

Abstract: The initialization of ocean conditions is essential to coupled tropical cyclone (TC) forecasts. This study investigates the impact of ocean observations assimilation, particularly underwater glider data, on high-resolution coupled TC forecasts. Using the coupled Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) – Hybrid CoordinateOcean Model (HYCOM) system, numerical experiments are performed by assimilating underwater glider observations alone and with other standard ocean observations for the forecast of Hurricane Gonzalo (2014). The glider observations are able to provide valuable information on sub-surface ocean thermal and saline structure, even with their limited spatial coverage along the storm track and relatively small amount of data assimilated. Through the assimilation of underwater glider observations, the pre-storm thermal and saline structures of initial upper ocean conditions are significantly improved near the location of glider observations, though the impact is localized due to the limited coverage of glider data. The ocean initial conditions are best represented when both the standard ocean observations and the underwater glider data are assimilated together. The barrier layer and the associated sharp density gradient in the upper ocean are successfully represented in the ocean initial conditions only with the use of underwater glider observations. The upper ocean temperature and salinity forecasts in the first 48 hours are improved by assimilating both underwater glider and standard ocean observations. The assimilation of glider observations alone does not make large impact on the intensity forecast due to their limited coverage along the storm track. The 126-hour intensity forecast of Hurricane Gonzalo is improved 45 moderately through assimilating both underwater glider data and standard ocean observations.

Hurricane_Gliders_Gonzolo

Publications & References

  • Click to Expand List

    Domingues, R., Kuwano-Yoshida, A., Chardon-Maldonado, P., Todd, R. E., Halliwell, G., …, Goni, G. (2019), Ocean Observations in Support of Studies and Forecasts of Tropical and Extratropical Cyclones, under review at Frontiers in Marine Science, in press.

    Domingues, R., Goni, G.J., Knaff, J.A., Lin, I.-I., and Bringas, F. (2019), The tropics- Tropical cyclone heat potential. In State of the Climate in 2018, J. Blunden, D.S. Arndt, and G. Hartfield (eds.). Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, in press.

    Goni, G.J., Knaff, J.A., Lin, I.-I., and Domingues, R., 2018: The tropics-Tropical cyclone heat potential. In State of the Climate in 2017, J. Blunden, D.S. Arndt, and G. Hartfield (eds.). Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 99(8):S129-S132 (doi:10.1175/2018BAMSStateoftheClimate.1). Read Report.

    Dong, J.,R. Domingues, G. Goni, G. Halliwell, H.-S. Kim, S.-K. Lee, M. Mehari, F. Bringas, J. Morell, and L. Pomales, 2017: Impact of assimilating underwater glider data on Hurricane Gonzalo (2014) forecast. Weather and Forecasting, 32(3):1143-1159, (doi:10.1175/WAF-D-16-0182.1). Read Paper.

    Goni, G. J., R. E. Todd, S. R. Jayne, G. Halliwell, S. Glenn, J. Dong, R. Curry, R. Domingues, F. Bringas, L. Centurioni, S. F. DiMarco, T. Miles, J. Morell, L. Pomales, H.-S. Kim, P. E. Robbins, G. G. Gawarkiewicz, J. Wilkin, J. Heiderich, B. Baltes, J. J. Cione, G. Seroka, K. Knee, and E. R. Sanabia, 2017: Autonomous and Lagrangian Ocean Observations for Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Studies and Forecasts. Journal of the Oceanography Society, 30(2):85-95, (doi:10.5670/oceanog.2017.227). Read Article.

    Domingues, R ., G. Goni, F. Bringas, S.-K. Lee, H-S Kim, G. Halliwell, J. Dong, J. Morell, and L. Pomales, 2015: Upper ocean response to Hurricane Gonzalo (2014): Salinity effects revealed by sustained and targeted observations from underwater gliders. Geophys. Res. Lett., 42(17):7131-7138, (doi:10.1002/2015GL065378). Read Paper. 

    Goni, G. J., J. A. Knaff, and I-I Lin, 2015: [Global Oceans] Tropical cyclone heat potential [in “State of the Climate in 2014”]. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 96, (7), S121-S122,. Read Report.

Looking for Literature? Search our Publication Database.

History of the Project

Milestones
  • 11/13/2018

    Missions 20, and 21 Ends

    Gliders SG610, and SG649 was successfully recovered in the tropical North Atlantic, marking the successful completion of the 2018 NOAA/AOML Hurricane Underwater Glider Operations.

  • 11/12/2018

    Mission 18 Ends

    Glider SG630 was successfully recovered in the Caribbean Sea.

  • 09/24/2018

    Successful Recovery

    One NAVO gliders was successfully recovered in the tropical North Atlantic.

  • 09/19/2018

    Mission 19 Ends

    Glider SG635 was successfully recovered in the Caribbean Sea. In addition, one NAVO gliders was also successfully recovered in the tropical North Atlantic.

  • 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.

  • 09/06/2018

    Successful Recovery

    Two NAVO gliders were successfully recovered in the tropical North Atlantic.

  • 07/31/2018

    Mission 21 Start

    Glider SG649 was deployed in the tropical North Atlantic in support of the 2018 NOAA/AOML Hurricane Underwater Glider Operations.

  • 07/20/2018

    Deployment and Recovery

    One NAVO glider was deployed in the tropical North Atlantic in support of the 2018 NOAA/AOML Hurricane Underwater Glider Operations. Another NAVO glider was recovered due to malfunction.

  • 07/19/2018

    Mission 20 Start

    Glider SG610, and two NAVO gliders were deployed in the tropical North Atlantic in support of the 2018 NOAA/AOML Hurricane Underwater Glider Operations.

  • 07/17/2018

    Navy Deployment

    Two NAVO Gliders were deployed in the tropical North Atlantic through a partnership between the U.S. Navy and AOML in support of the 2018 NOAA/AOML Hurricane Underwater Glider Operations.

  • 07/16/2018

    Missions 18, 19 Start

    Two gliders (SG630, and SG635) were deployed in the Caribbean Sea, marking the beginning of the 2018 NOAA/AOML Hurricane Underwater Glider Operations.

  • 11/01/2017

    Missions 15, 16 & 17 End

    The three gliders (SG610, SG630, and SG635) were successfully recovered marking the completion of the 2017 NOAA/AOML Hurricane Underwater Glider Deployment.

  • 07/14/2017

    Missions 15, 16 and 17

    Three gliders (SG610, SG630, and SG635) were deployed in the Caribbean Sea and Tropical North Atlantic, marking the start of underwater glider missions in support of the 2017 Hurricane Field Observations Program.

  • 03/11/2017

    Missions 13 and 14 Completed

    Two gliders (SG610 and SG630) were successfully recovered in the Caribbean Sea. Issues with the gliders caused a premature ending for these missions.

  • 03/11/2017

    Missions 13 and 14 Completed

    Two gliders (SG610 and SG630) were successfully recovered in the Caribbean Sea. Issues with the gliders caused a premature ending for these missions.

  • 03/07/2017

    Missions 13 and 14 Starts

    Two gliders (SG610 and SG630) were deployed in the Caribbean Sea.

  • 11/10/2016

    Missions 9, 10, 11 and 12 Completed

    Two gliders (SG609 and SG630) were successfully recovered in the Caribbean Sea on November 10, 2016. The recovery marks the successful completion of AOML’s fifth underwater glider mission during the 2016 Hurricane Season.

  • 11/02/2016

    Gliders SG547 and SG610 recovered

    Two gliders (SG547 and SG610) were successfully recovered in the North Atlantic on November 2d, 2016.

  • 07/22/2016

    Missions 9, 10, 11 and 12 Starts

    Two gliders (SG609 and SG630) were successfully deployed in the Caribbean Sea on June 21, 2016. The deployment marks the beginning of the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season deployment. Two more gliders are expected to be deployed in the tropical North Atlantic as part of the Hurricane season operations. AOML-CARICOOS Underwater Gliders are officially part of the NOAA Hurricane Research Division tropical Atlantic Hurricane Field Program.

  • 06/04/2016

    Missions 7 and 8 Completed

    Mission successfully completed on June 2, 2016. Over 1,500 profile observations were collected in the Caribbean Sea during this mission.

  • Missions 7 and 8

    Missions 7 and 8 Completed

    Two gliders (SG609 and SG617) were in the Caribbean Sea on March 10, 2016. Gliders are expected to be recovered late May.

  • 11/18/2015

    Underwater gliders recovered

    Both underwater gliders, SG609 and SG10, were recovered on the Caribbean Sea and Tropical North Atlantic after the successful completion of the hurricane season underwater glider mission. During these missions, over 2,600 temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen profiles were collected.

  • 08/11/2015

    Science highlight

    In a recent manuscript by Domingues et al. (2015), observations collected by glider SG609 before, during, and after the passage of Hurricane Gonzalo (2014) were analyzed to improve our understanding of the upper ocean response to hurricane winds. this study is that salinity potentially played an important role on changes observed in the upper ocean; a near-surface barrier layer likely suppressed the hurricane-induced upper ocean cooling, leading to smaller than expected temperature changes.

  • 07/15/2015

    Hurricane Season Glider Missions starts

    Two underwater gliders, SG609 and SG10, have been successfully deployed on the Caribbean Sea and Tropical North Atlantic, marking the start of the hurricane underwater glider mission (Missions 5 and 6). Near-real time location of the gliders and plots of latest observations can be found here.

  • 04/27/2015

    Underwater gliders recovered

    Both underwater gliders, SG609 and SG10, have been successfully recovered on the Caribbean Sea on April 27. This completes Missions 3 and 4 after the collection of over 2,000 (two thousand) temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen profiles.

  • 02/06/2015

    Underwater gliders deployed

    Both underwater gliders, SG609 and SG10, have been successfully deployed on the Caribbean Sea on February 6, marking the start of Missions 3 and 4. For these missions, a new sensor to measure dissolved oxygen concentration was installed on both gliders.

  • 02/06/2015

    Underwater gliders deployed

    Both underwater gliders, SG609 and SG10, have been successfully deployed on the Caribbean Sea on February 6, marking the start of Missions 3 and 4. For these missions, a new sensor to measure dissolved oxygen concentration was installed on both gliders.

  • 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 Missions 1 and 2, 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, marking the start of Missions 1 and 2. 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.

Our Stories

A NOAA ocean glider begins a dive
Ubaldo Lopez of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez prepares to launch NOAA ocean gliders in the summer of 2017 off Puerto Rico.
CARICOOS Team
Underwater Glider. Image credit: NOAA
Underwater glider being recovered in the Caribbean Sea. Image Credit: NOAA
NASA's Global Hawk aircraft will carry multiple instruments to profile hurricanes during the 2015 field season. (Image Credit:NOAA)
Figure. tracks of two AOML underwater gliders (red lines) deployed in mid July, track of tropical storm Bertha (black line, circles every 3hs intervals), and NOAA AXBT deployments (blue diamonds), superimposed to the altimetry-derived sea surface height (SSH) and geostrophic currents (arrows).

Contact

Gustavo Goni

Gustavo Goni, Ph.D.
305.361.4339

| Gustavo Goni, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

If you would like more information on the this project, please contact Gustavo Goni, Principal Investigator of this project.

Data Access

Ricardo Domingues

Phone: (305) 361-4505
Ricardo.Domingues@noaa.gov

Francis Bringas

Phone: (305) 361-4316

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