Hurricane Glider Project

Hurricane Gliders

Improving Hurricane Forecasts With Upper Ocean Observations

JUMP TO DATA        DEPLOYMENT MAP

OR SCROLL TO LEARN MORE

members

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.

| Zachary Barton

Hardware, Field Work, and Piloting

| Francis Bringas

Piloting and Data Management

| Sandra Bringas

Piloting

| Gustavo Goni, Ph.D.

AOML Project Lead, Science

| Matthieu Le Hénaff, Ph.D.

CIMAS Project Lead, Science

| Hyun-Sook Kim, Ph.D.

Science, Numerical Modeling

| Grant Rawson

Hardware, Field Work, and Piloting

| Ulises Rivero

Engineer and Piloting

| Rayne Sabatello

Webpage Development, Communications

| Christian Saiz

Hardware, Field Work, and Piloting

| Diego Ugaz

Hardware, Field Work, and Piloting

If you have questions about the Hurricane Glider Project

Please contact Gustavo Goni or Francis Bringas.

View the hurricane glider one-pager for more detailed information about gliders.

Top News

NOAA and Saildrone Launch Seven Hurricane-Tracking Surface Drones

In partnership with NOAA, Saildrone Inc. is deploying seven ocean drones to collect data from hurricanes during the 2022 hurricane season with the goal of improving hurricane forecasting. For the first year, two saildrones will track hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.

In partnership with NOAA, Saildrone Inc. is deploying seven ocean drones to collect data from hurricanes during the 2022 hurricane season with the goal of improving hurricane forecasting. For the first year, two saildrones will track hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.

Read More News

North Pacific storm waves as seen from the M/V NOBLE STAR. Photo credit: NWS
Satellite image of Hurricane Micheal. Image Credit, NOAA.
NOAA’s hurricane gliders are returning home after a successful journey during the 2020 hurricane season. These gliders were deployed off the coasts of Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Gulf of Mexico, and the eastern U.S. to collect data for scientists to use to improve the accuracy of hurricane forecast models.
NOAA’s hurricane gliders are heading to sea this week off the coasts of Puerto Rico, the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern U.S. to collect data that scientists will use to improve the accuracy of hurricane forecast models.

2022 AOML Hurricane Gliders in the Atlantic Ocean

During the 2022 hurricane season, AOML will participate in the operations of 6 glider missions in the Caribbean Sea, tropical Atlantic and off Bahamas, of which AOML will lead 5 missions.

The preparations, deployments, piloting, and recovering operations will be done with the following AOML partners:  IOOS (Integrated Ocean Observing System) Regional Association (CARICOOS), the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez, the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) of the University of Miami,  ANAMAR (Maritime Authority in the Dominican Republic), and Cape Eleuthera Institute in the Bahamas. Specifically, the work carried out this year by NOAA/AOML will collect approximately 1,000-2,000 temperature/salinity profile observations obtained along predetermined transects in the Caribbean Sea, tropical Atlantic Ocean, and east of the Bahamas.

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.

Next

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.

Next

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 device, 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. Click next to see an illustration.

Next

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.

Next

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.

Next

2022 Glider Updates

The 2022 AOML Hurricane Glider season is coming to an end with the recoveries of 4 underwater gliders, one near the southwest tip of Eleuthera in The Bahamas, two in the Caribbean Sea south of La Parguera, and one in the Tropical North Atlantic north of Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Zack Barton and the CARICOOS team will lead the field operations in The Bahamas and Puerto Rico, respectively, while the rest of the glider team (Gustavo Goni, Ulises Rivero, Grant Rawson, Christian Saiz, and Francis Bringas) will provide piloting and communications.

Since their deployment in June, AOML Hurricane gliders have collected approximately 8,500 temperature and salinity profiles covering a total of 10,000 km in the Caribbean Sea and Tropical North Atlantic during almost 700 glider-days. Glider missions during the 2022 hurricane season included the collection of simultaneous and co-located observations with two saildrones along fixed tracks located north and south of Puerto Rico.

Hurricane glider SG670, a joint mission between Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI), CIMAS, and AOML, was successfully redeployed in the tropical Atlantic, east of the Bahamas, on Saturday, October 1.  This glider exhibited communication issues on September 22.  Diego Ugaz (CIMAS/AOML), with partners at CEI, recovered the glider on September 24 and fixed the hardware problem that was preventing reliable data transmissions. Before it’s redeployment, this glider had already been at sea for 80 days and conducted more than 1,100 individual temperature and salinity profile observations to 700m depth during the Atlantic hurricane season. This mission is expected to end by the end of November 2022. More information about NOAA glider operations can be found here, and about ocean field and satellite observations and products in near-real-time here.   Glider SG670 work is funded by Disaster Supplemental funds, NOAA Global Ocean Monitoring and Observing Program (GOMO), and AOML.

Seven underwater hurricane gliders, four from AOML, one from CARICOOS, and two from the US Navy monitored the ocean conditions in the eastern Caribbean region during the passage of Hurricane Fiona. These glider observations were part of a suite of observing assets that included other field and satellite observations. One AOML glider (SG610), located a few kilometers away from the center of the Hurricane Fiona, conducted ocean profile observations of temperature and salinity from the surface to 800m deep, collocated with one AOML-PMEL saildrone (SD1031).

AOML gliders acquired and transmitted approximately 300 profiles during this time, with data assimilated in real-time into operational forecast models.  Fiona intensified to Category 1 hurricane while traveling south of Puerto Rico. Glider data revealed the existence of a warm surface layer of low salinity riverine origin (Amazon River) waters, referred to as a barrier layer, which provided the appropriate ocean conditions for hurricane intensification (when suitable atmospheric conditions are also present).

AOML glider operations are funded by Disaster Supplemental funds, IOOS, GOMO, and AOML.

On Thursday, Aug 12, AOML glider SG635 reported a failure and could no longer be piloted. AOML and partner, CariCOOS, personnel conferred on Aug 13 and decided to recover the glider at a site >100 miles from the coast and replace it with AOML glider SG649.  This operation was done on the morning of Sunday Aug 14 by CariCOOS personnel aboard the R/V Marieangie with ground support provided by AOML personnel Francis Bringas, Ulises Rivero, Grant Rawson, and Gustavo Goni.  The quick action by AOML and CariCOOS, using partnership resources already in place, along with the weekend response by AOML pilots Bringas, Rivero and Rawson, prevented the glider from being lost and avoided data gaps in the mission.

Underwater glider gets ready for deployment. Image credit: NOAA

The fifth and final AOML CIMAS glider was deployed in the North Atlantic off the Bahamas. This is the second year AOML has partnered with the Cape Eleuthera Island School in the Bahamas for glider operations. This glider is conducting ocean profile observations of temperature and salinity. Its data is transmitted in real-time to data distribution centers and to NOAA and are used for ocean analysis and to assimilate into ocean and hurricane forecast models.

A glider being worked on before deployment. July 2022

glider in Bahama waters 2022

Photo Credit: Allan Jones, Cape Eleuthera Island School

The fourth of five AOML-CIMAS gliders was deployed in the Caribbean Sea off the Dominican Republic last week. This is the fourth year AOML has partnered with the Naval Auxiliaries and the Maritime Authority of the Dominican Republic for glider operations. This glider is conducting ocean profile observations of temperature and salinity. Its data is transmitted in real-time to data distribution centers and to NOAA and are used for ocean analysis and to assimilate into ocean and hurricane forecast models. This mission is expected to last until mid to end of November and provide ocean observations in an area that would be otherwise not observed.

The 2022 Glider Season is underway! AOML, in partnership with CariCOOS, deployed three AOML gliders and one CariCOOS glider off the coasts of Puerto Rico. Two AOML gliders and one CariCOOS glider were deployed south of Puerto Rico and one AOML glider was deployed north of Puerto Rico. These are AOML glider missions 44-46. All gliders are now transmitting data which will start going into the Global Telecommunications System (GTS) within 72 hours.

Next week, a fourth AOML glider will be deployed south of the Dominican Republic.

glidermap

Glider Locations

2022 Observational Plan

Click to enlarge images.

Vehicle Deployment Status

Glider ID Status Region Deployment # of profiles # of days Last Comm. (UTC)
SG610 Underway Caribbean Sea 2022-06-21
SG635 Recovered Caribbean Sea 2022-06-22
SG649 Underway Caribbean Sea 2022-08-14
SG665 Underway North Atlantic 2022-06-23
SG667 Underway Caribbean Sea 2022-06-29
SG670 Underway North Atlantic 2022-07-13

Research Objectives

Research to Improve Hurricane Intensity Forecasts

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

Dive into more technical information and data in the Glider Data Pages.

gliderdata

Data Access

Temperature, Salinity, Dissolved Oxygen, Chlorophyll Concentration and Chromophoric Dissolved Organic Matter

Data collected by this project is transmitted in real-time into the Global Telecommunications Systems (GTS), and distributed through this webpage, and through NOAA Integrated Ocean Observing System Data Assembly Center (IOOS-DAC).

This webpage provides access to real-time underwater glider data* collected by this project. Data for each dive by each underwater gliders is in NetCDF format and updated every 6 hours in the FTP link below.

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

Glider Profiles & Observations

Real-Time Observations

10-day data. The black line on the temperature and salinity sections shows the 26°C isotherm and the 35 isohaline, respectively.

More Data from Glider SG610

Temperature and Salinity Profiles

Real-Time Observations

10-day data. The black line on the temperature and salinity sections shows the 26°C isotherm and the 35 isohaline, respectively.

More Data from Glider SG635

Temperature and Salinity Profiles

Real-Time Observations

10-day data. The black line on the temperature and salinity sections shows the 26°C isotherm and the 35 isohaline, respectively.

More Data from Glider SG649

Temperature and Salinity Profiles

Real-Time Observations

10-day data. The black line on the temperature and salinity sections shows the 26°C isotherm and the 35 isohaline, respectively.

More Data from Glider SG665

Temperature and Salinity Profiles

Real-Time Observations

10-day data. The black line on the temperature and salinity sections shows the 26°C isotherm and the 35 isohaline, respectively.

More Data from Glider SG667

Temperature and Salinity Profiles

Real-Time Observations

10-day data. The black line on the temperature and salinity sections shows the 26°C isotherm and the 35 isohaline, respectively.

More Data from Glider SG670

Temperature and Salinity Profiles

Sampling Methods

The 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.

Photos from the Field

publications

Featured Publication

First page of 'The Role of the Gulf of Mexico Ocean Conditions in the Intensification of Hurricane Michael (2018)' publication

Le Hénaff, M., Domingues, R., Halliwell, G., Zhang, J. A., Kim, H. S., Aristizabal, M., … & Goni, G. The role of the Gulf of Mexico ocean conditions in the intensification of Hurricane Michael (2018). Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, e2020JC016969.

Abstract: Hurricane Michael formed on October 7, 2018, in the Northwestern Caribbean Sea, and quickly traveled northward through the Gulf of Mexico, making landfall on the Florida panhandle as a devastating Category 5 hurricane only 3 days later. Before landfall, Michael underwent rapid intensification, despite unfavorable atmospheric conditions. Using observations, we characterized the key ocean features encountered by Michael along its track, which are known for favoring hurricane intensification: high sea surface temperatures, upper ocean heat content and low salinity barrier layer conditions. Ocean observations were consistent with suppressed hurricane-induced upper ocean cooling, which could only be observed by underwater gliders, and showed that Hurricane Michael constantly experienced sea surface temperatures above 28°C…

Read Full Paper.

The Role of the Gulf of Mexico Ocean Conditions in the Intensification of Hurricane Michael (2018)

Le Hénaff, M., Domingues, R., Halliwell, G., Zhang, J. A., Kim, H. S., Aristizabal, M., … & Goni, G. The role of the Gulf of Mexico ocean conditions in the intensification of Hurricane Michael (2018). Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, e2020JC016969.

Abstract: Hurricane Michael formed on October 7, 2018, in the Northwestern Caribbean Sea, and quickly traveled northward through the Gulf of Mexico, making landfall on the Florida panhandle as a devastating Category 5 hurricane only 3 days later. Before landfall, Michael underwent rapid intensification, despite unfavorable atmospheric conditions. Using observations, we characterized the key ocean features encountered by Michael along its track, which are known for favoring hurricane intensification: high sea surface temperatures, upper ocean heat content and low salinity barrier layer conditions. Ocean observations were consistent with suppressed hurricane-induced upper ocean cooling, which could only be observed by underwater gliders, and showed that Hurricane Michael constantly experienced sea surface temperatures above 28°C…

Read Full Paper.

First page of 'The Role of the Gulf of Mexico Ocean Conditions in the Intensification of Hurricane Michael (2018)' publication

Publications & References

  • Click to Expand List

    Miles, T.N., D. Zhang, G.R. Foltz, J.A. Zhang, C. Meinig, F. Bringas, J. Trinanes, M. Le Hénaff, M.F. Aristizabal Vargas, S. Coakley, C.R. Edwards, D. Gong, R.E. Todd, M.J. Oliver, W.D. Wilson, K. Whilden, B. Kirkpatrick, P. Chardon-Maldonado, J.M. Morell, D. Hernandez, G. Kuska, C.D. Stienbarger, K. Bailey, C. Zhang, S.M. Glenn, and G.J. Goni. Uncrewed ocean gliders and saildrones support hurricane forecasting and research. Oceanography 34(4):78-81 (https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2021.supplement.02-28) (2021). Read Paper.

    Le Hénaff, M., Domingues, R., Halliwell, G., Zhang, J. A., Kim, H. S., Aristizabal, M., … & Goni, G. The role of the Gulf of Mexico ocean conditions in the intensification of Hurricane Michael (2018). Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, e2020JC016969 (https://doi.org/10.1029/2020JC016969). (2021). Read Paper.

    Domingues, R., M. Le Hénaff, G. Halliwell, J.A. Zhang, F. Bringas, P. Chardon, H.-S. Kim, J. Morell, and G. Goni. Ocean conditions and the intensification of three major Atlantic hurricanes of 2017. Monthly Weather Review, 149(5):1265-1286 (https://doi.org/10.1175/MWR-D-20-0100.1) (2021). Read Paper

    Halliwell, G.R., G.J. Goni, M.F Mehari, V.H. Kourafalou, M. BAringer, and R. Atlas. OSSE assessment of underwater glider arrays to improve ocean model initialization for tropical cyclone prediction. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 37(3):467-487 (https://doi.org/10.1175/JTECH-D-18-0195.1) (2020). Read Paper.

    Domingues, R., Kuwano-Yoshida, A., Chardon-Maldonado, P., Todd, R. E., Halliwell, G., Kim, H. S., … & Goni, G. (2019). Ocean observations in support of studies and forecasts of tropical and extratropical cyclones. Frontiers in Marine Science, 6, 446. Read Paper.

    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.

Glider Team Internal Access

Click on the buttons below to access the internal site

Sharing Resources Delivers Results.

Expanding Reach Through Partnerships.

40+

Missions

Glider missions have been conducted by AOML and partner organizations since the start of the project in 2014.

10+

Partners

Partners have used the glider data for hurricane research.

NOAA_logo_600x300
ioos_logo_final
anamar2
us_navy_logo_final
Cape Eleuthera Institute logo
NWS Environmental Modeling Center logo
secoora_logo_final
CARICOOS logo. An AOML partner for the hurricane glider project.