News

Coral scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and the University of Miami Rosenstiel School’s Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) will be presenting their research at the 14th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) from July 19-23, 2021, which will be held virtually for the first time in the history of the ICRS.

In 2017, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the time frame of 2021-2030 as the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, also known as the “Ocean Decade,” to address the degradation of the ocean and encourage innovative science initiatives to better understand and ultimately reverse its declining health.

The 2021 hurricane season is off to a busy start with five named storms having already formed in the Atlantic Ocean. Recently, Tropical Storm Claudette travelled directly over three ocean observation platforms, providing key ocean data for the initialization of the ocean component for hurricane forecast models.

RV Endeavor as viewed from a small boat. Image credit: NOAA

Researchers from the Physical Oceanography Division of AOML conduct regular hydrographic surveys to monitor the western boundary current system in the subtropical North Atlantic Ocean. These cruises are a part of the laboratory’s long-running Western Boundary Time Series (WBTS) project and are designed to monitor both the Florida Current, east of Florida in the Florida Straits, and the North Atlantic Deep Western Boundary Current east of the Bahamas in the North Atlantic Ocean. These western boundary currents are important parts of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC).

Dr. Nastassia Patin, a Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) scientist working at AOML, recently spent three weeks aboard the NOAA ship Reuben Lasker collecting environmental DNA (eDNA) from water samples in support of the Rockfish Recruitment and Ecosystem Assessment Survey (RREAS).

A recent study by researchers at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory shows that coral growth observed in symmetrical brain corals (Pseudodiploria strigosa) and mountainous star corals (Orbicella faveolata) in the Flower Garden Banks reefs, in the Gulf of Mexico, are linked to warming sea surface temperatures.

Satellite image of Hurricane Micheal. Image Credit, NOAA.

In a recent study published in AGU’s Journal of Geophysical Research – Oceans, scientists at AOML identified key ocean features that supported the rapid intensification of Hurricane Michael (2018), despite unfavorable atmospheric conditions for development. The study demonstrates the importance of using realistic ocean conditions for coupled (ocean-atmosphere) hurricane models in order to achieve the most accurate hurricane intensity forecasts.

Scientists at AOML are preparing for the active anticipated 2021 Atlantic hurricane season with the introduction of new observation tools, modeling techniques, and field campaigns to improve hurricane intensity and track forecasts.

Phytoplankton drifting near the ocean surface play a critical role in marine biogeochemistry, carbon cycling, and ecosystem health. But measuring the activity of these microscopic organisms is challenging. Although scientists rely on ship-based sampling and satellites to quantify their abundance, both methods have limitations. In a study published recently in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences,* Argo profiling floats equipped with biogeochemical sensors, i.e., BGC Argo floats, were used to obtain the first year-long estimates of phytoplankton in the western North Atlantic Ocean.

Coral Outplanting. Image Credit: NOAA

A new study by researchers at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory suggests that outplanting corals, specifically staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) from higher temperature waters to cooler waters, may be a better strategy to help corals recover from certain stressors. The researchers found that corals from reefs with higher average water temperatures showed greater healing than corals from cooler waters when exposed to heat stress.

To help improve the long term survival of nursery raised staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis), Ruben van Hooidonk, a coral scientist with NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory and the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies has developed a new experimental mapping tool i that ranks suitable outplant locations. There are currently at least seven coral nurseries in Florida that cultivate staghorn coral, representing one of the best opportunities to maintain resilient populations of this species.

Image Credit: UNESCO

In absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2), the oceans play a crucial role in regulating the climate, a role yet to be fully understood. However, the oceans’ ability to contribute to climate regulation may decline and even be reversed in the future. The oceans that are now the blue lungs of our planet, could end up contributing to global warming.

In a recent article published in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Oceans, scientists at AOML evaluate the variability of the heat transport in the South Atlantic by developing a new method to measure its changes on a daily basis. This study presents, for the first time, full‐depth, daily measurements of the volume and heat transported by the Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) in the South Atlantic at 34.5°S based on direct observations.

In a recently published study, scientists at AOML present 28-year long (1993-2020) estimates of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) volume and heat transports at multiple latitudes by merging in-situ oceanographic and satellite observations. By combining ocean observations with satellite data, they were able to estimate the AMOC volume and heat transports in near real time. These data can be used to validate ocean models, to detect climate variability, and to investigate their impact on extreme weather events.

AOML will be celebrating Earth Day this year with a week-long series of webinars on April 19th-23rd, 2021 from 6:00 p.m-7:00 p.m. AOML’s Virtual Open House will feature NOAA scientists talking about everything from hurricane research to oceanography to coral ecosystems to the new technologies being used to improve our understanding of the world around us. Participants will also get the chance to learn more about what it’s like to be a scientist working with NOAA in the Ask AOML Q&A.

Wind streaks and whitecaps on the ocean surface from Hurricane Edouard's 65 kt winds. Image credit: NOAA

Scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory are now focusing on what happens where the sea meets the atmosphere to help solve the hurricane intensity problem. The place right above where the air meets the sea is called the planetary boundary layer. The ocean drives global weather. By building on past research, scientists have determined that factors in the boundary layer and underlying ocean such as salinity, temperature, currents, wave and wind patterns, precipitation, are crucial to understanding the energy that fuels a hurricane.

From the desk of CSI: Miami (Fish Edition): Solving an eDNA mystery. NGI Associate Research Professor Luke Thompson and NGI Postdoctoral Associate Sean Anderson have been studying the environmental DNA (eDNA) left behind by fish at the University of Miami dock (pictured), near the NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory in Miami, Florida. When they analyzed the data, while many of the fish species detected were expected for the area, they were surprised by several unexpected species, such as rainbow trout. To help solve this mystery, Luke and Sean sent out a survey to fish biologists with expertise in this region.

From March to May, NGI Postdoctoral Associate Sean Anderson is taking part in two legs of a NOAA Fisheries survey in the Gulf of Mexico on board NOAA Ship Pisces. The NOAA project, “Environmental DNA Enhancement of Fisheries Independent Monitoring Cruises for Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management”, seeks to improve ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) with the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) sequencing. Camera traps (pictured) placed at the seafloor in the Gulf of Mexico capture video of passing fish, while bottles collect seawater that the fish have passed through, leaving behind DNA traces.

A recently published paper presents the Sargassum Inundation Report (SIR), a product that uses a satellite-based methodology to monitor from space areas with coastal inundation of pelagic Sargassum in the tropical Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. The SIR was created as a response to the need to improve the monitoring and management of Sargassum influxes (e.g., coordinate clean-up), which have major economic, social, environmental, and public health impacts.

On February 24, researchers with NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory returned to land, docking in Key West after nearly six weeks aboard the NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown. The scientists were at sea for the PIRATA (Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic) Northeast Extension (PNE) cruise, a joint effort between AOML and NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory to maintain an expansion of the PIRATA array of surface moorings into the northern and northeastern sectors of the tropical Atlantic.

video of Alamo test deployments from the P-3 Hurricane Hunter Aircraft. Video Credit: NOAA AOML.

In January 2021, AOML in partnership with NOAA’s Aircraft Operations Center (AOC) completed the air launch testing of the Air-Launched Autonomous Micro-Observer (ALAMO) profiling float. This testing cleared the ALAMO floats for flight and deployed from the NOAA P3 Hurricane Hunter aircraft during their hurricane reconnaissance missions. The data collected and transmitted by the ALAMO floats will be used to understand the ocean’s interaction with tropical cyclones and improve coupled hurricane forecasting models.

The PIRATA (Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic) 2021 cruise aboard NOAA’s Ronald H. Brown has returned home! During their 41 days at sea, the cruise facilitated a collaboration between researchers with NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Lab (AOML) and Fearless Fund, an organization dedicated to ocean solutions, supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). This collaboration targets the removal of carbon dioxide from ocean waters by the growth and harvest of seaweed biomass, known as Sargassum.

Scientists at AOML in collaboration with partners at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) have identified Loop Current related anticyclonic eddies along the northwest coast of Cuba in the southern Gulf of Mexico, named “CubAns” (“Cuba anticyclones”). These eddies play an important role in the ocean circulation associated with the Loop Current. This team of scientists is the first to study CubANs.

A new paper published in Monthly Weather Review shows some promise for predicting subseasonal to seasonal tornado activity based on how key atmospheric parameters over the US respond to various climate signals, including El Niño and La Niña activity in the Pacific. In this study, a team of researchers from NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, and Climate Prediction Center presented an experimental seasonal tornado outlook model, named SPOTter (Seasonal Probabilistic Outlook for Tornadoes), and evaluated its prediction skill.

Over the past 10 years, scientists from all over the world and in the United States have achieved incremental successes in using the Integrated Ecosystem Assessment approach. This approach allows them to build relationships with scientists, stakeholders, and managers and balance the needs of nature and society for current and future generations.

Scientists are heading to sea on the R/V Walton Smith to sample areas where red tide blooms are commonly present off the west Florida coast. Karenia brevis, the organism that causes red tide, forms blooms when elevated concentrations (>100,000 cells per liter) are present in the water. K. brevis produces toxins called brevetoxins that can cause massive fish kills, weaken or kill marine mammals, and (if the toxin becomes aerosolized and inhaled) cause respiratory distress in humans and marine mammals. The team of scientists will be comprehensively sampling a series of transects along the West Florida Shelf.

The U.S Army Corps in partnership with NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, and NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center are testing a new ecological forecasting tool known as the ‘Environmental Information Synthesizer for Expert Systems’ (EISES). This new tool is being tested for the first time in a maintenance dredging project in Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, Florida in a multi-agency collaborative effort to help capture water quality effects which may be associated with dredging operations.

Hurricane Humberto Satellite Image. Photo Credit: NOAA Satellites.

Hurricane scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory have created a new, advanced moving nest model within the Unified Forecast System, the bedrock of NOAA’s weather prediction applications . AOML’s Hurricane Modeling and Prediction Team developed the high resolution moving nest model for the FV3 dynamical core, laying the foundation for next generation advancements in hurricane forecasting.

February is Black History Month; in celebration we sat down to talk with oceanographer and Miami native, Evan B. Forde. In 1973, Forde began his career at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, and in 1979 he became the first African American scientist to participate in research dives aboard a deep-sea submersible. During his career Forde has conducted research across various oceanographic and meteorological disciplines and remains one of the few African American oceanographers in the U.S.

NOAA’s Western Boundary Time Series (WBTS) project, alongside partner projects RAPID and MOCHA, have been awarded the inaugural “Ocean Observing Team Award” by The Oceanography Society (TOS). This award recognizes innovation and excellence in sustained ocean observing for scientific and practical applications. The WBTS/RAPID/MOCHA team is recognized for significantly improving our understanding of Atlantic circulation through the breakthrough design of a basin-wide observing system using endpoint measurements to measure the variability of the overturning circulation across wide areas of the ocean. This design provided continuous, cost-effective measurements that led to a transformation in ocean observing and advances in scientific knowledge.

Originally Published January 25th, 2021 at NOAA.Gov

“We’re hopeful this new technology, once it can be successfully tested in a hurricane environment, will improve our understanding of the boundary layer and advance NOAA forecast models used in forecasts,” said Joseph Cione, lead meteorologist at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory Hurricane Research Division. “Ultimately, these new observations could help emergency managers make informed decisions on evacuations before tropical cyclones make landfall.”

On December 11, 2020 researchers with the Global Carbon Project released their annual update for the Global Carbon Budget. Daily global CO2 emissions are estimated to have decreased by a maximum of about 17% by early April 2020 compared to average levels in 2019. About half of this change is due to changes in surface transport, especially road transport, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Global Drifter Program’s (GDP) Drifter Data Assembly Center (DAC) at AOML has launched a new interactive map of the global drifter array. This new tool features the ability to zoom and scroll, hover the cursor over drifters to get their identification numbers, and click to see data and metadata including deployment information, manufacturer, and drifter type in an ID card that can be viewed as a high-resolution image with an additional click.

Recently the UN Environment Programme Report on coral bleaching projections for 2020 was published, updating work that was done in 2017 using a previous generation of global climate models to project coral reef bleaching globally. The report shows some interesting new results. Ruben van Hooidonk, a coral researcher at AOML and the University of Miami Rosenstiel School Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies, was the lead author of the report.

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 Hurricane Hunters continue reconnaissance for Tropical Storm Eta, which threatens to bring tropical cyclone hazards to south Florida as it restrengthens over water.

Tasked by the Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) and the National Hurricane Center (NHC), NOAA’s P-3 and G-IV aircraft have conducted reconnaissance for Tropical Storm Eta. Missions are scheduled to proceed through the weekend.

In February 2020, the NOAA ‘Omics Strategy was launched. The Strategy was informed by a whitepaper that recently became available on the NOAA Institutional Repository. This document titled NOAA ‘Omics White Paper: Informing the NOAA ‘Omics Strategy and Implementation Plan, identifies NOAA’s priorities in ‘omics research, promotes integration and communication among line offices, and proposes possible solutions to implementation challenges in this quickly advancing sector of research.

A new study published in Geophysical Research Letters looks at the relationship between how fast a tropical cyclone intensifies and the amount of ice in the clouds that make up the storm. Hurricane scientists found that tropical cyclones with greater amounts of cloud ice are likely to intensify faster than those with less cloud ice.

NOAA’s Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections (MAPP) program is funding a new collaborative project between the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and the Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) to understand how a changing climate might be influencing commercially important fish stocks. This project will identify key climate and oceanic processes that affect the biology and chemistry of the ocean of relevance to the coastal open ocean species in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Bight, managed by NOAA Fisheries and the regional Fishery Management Councils.

NOAA launched a new National Marine Ecosystem Status web tool, on Monday October 19. This tool shows the status of marine ecosystems across the U.S. It provides easy access to NOAA’s wide range of essential coastal and marine ecosystem data in one location for the first time.

In the Fall of 2019, Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) oceanographer Renellys Perez contacted Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) and Princeton University oceanographer Sonya Legg to brainstorm how the two labs could increase collaboration. Due to a previous working relationship established with Legg at MPOWIR, a mentoring group created to improve the retention of women in physical oceanography and US CLIVAR, Perez was able to propose a collaborative workshop.

In a new study published in Atmosphere, hurricane scientists looked at how turbulent mixing in the boundary layer affects the intensity and structure of hurricanes in NOAA’s Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) model. They found that turbulent mixing affects where thunderstorms in hurricanes occur, and how fast air flows towards the center of a storm.

New research reveals temperatures in the deep sea fluctuate more than scientists previously thought and a warming trend is now detectable at the bottom of the ocean.

In a recent article published in Frontiers in Marine Science, the history of the Argo program is examined and discussed. The Argo program began in 1998 when a team of international scientists, known as the “Argo Science Team,” proposed the idea for a global array of autonomous floats to obtain temperature and salinity measurements of the upper 2,000 meters of the global ocean. The new array of floats, called Argo, would go on to be endorsed as a pilot program of the Global Ocean Observing System and be used to fill in the large data gaps in ocean observations.

NOAA concludes Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) tasked reconnaissance for Major Hurricane Delta on October 9. The P-3 aircraft took off from Lakeland, FL at 5:00 AM EDT to survey the system’s circulation.

A new study published in Meteorological Applications finds that changes in the flight track patterns of aircraft flying into storms to collect observations for weather forecast models could positively impact forecasts. Differences in where data is collected within a storm changes the model forecast.

NOAA and Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters continue around the clock monitoring of Hurricane Delta as it traverses the Gulf of Mexico. Overnight flights on October 7 through midday October 8 found that Delta’s circulation is intensifying and expanding in size.

NOAA aircraft reconnaissance continued for Major Hurricane Delta on October 6, capturing the system’s quick maturation overnight. P-3 and G-IV missions are scheduled every 12 and 24 hours from Lakeland, FL. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) tasked NOAA’s Hurricane Hunters to identify the location and strength of the circulation center, and to survey the atmospheric conditions nearby and ahead of Delta. Instrumentation onboard the aircraft have sampled the system’s development, revealing a 55 knot rapid intensification in just 24 hours.

Aircraft reconnaissance operations began October 5 to investigate the location and strength of Tropical Storm Delta’s circulation. Tasked by the National Hurricane Center (NHC), NOAA’s P-3 aircraft took off at 1 PM EDT from Lakeland, FL.

After a week of daily map discussions led by student forecasters at the University at Albany-SUNY, as part of AOML’s Hurricane Field Program, NOAA interest in Tropical Storm Gamma has resulted in planned reconnaissance missions starting at 5 AM EDT on Saturday, October 3.

In a recent study published in Science Advances, a team of scientists at AOML led by Denis Volkov used observations and idealized model simulations to explore what caused the abrupt reduction and ensuing recovery of the South Indian Ocean heat and sea level in 2014-2018.

NOAA’s Hurricane Hunters continue reconnaissance for Major Hurricane Teddy, conducting numerous science experiments developed by AOML and its collaborators.

A new study published in Remote Sensing uses radar data from NOAA’s P-3 Hurricane Hunter aircraft to determine the characteristics a satellite would need to measure the surface wind in a tropical cyclone between areas of heavy rainfall. This study finds that satellites with higher resolution can measure larger regions of heavy rainfall.

AOML’s Hurricane Research Division tasked all three NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft to perform science operations into Hurricane Teddy, now a category-3 tropical cyclone and still intensifying in the mid-Atlantic.

NOAA’s P-3 aircraft wraps up its sequence of missions into Hurricane Sally prior to the system’s eventual landfall along the central Gulf Coast. Tasked by the National Hurricane Center (NHC), its final flight took off on September 15 at 9:30 EDT from Lakeland, FL.

NOAA’s G-IV and two P-3 Hurricane Hunter aircraft took off from Lakeland, FL at 10:30 AM, 1:30 PM and 4:30 PM EDT on September 14th to investigate Hurricane Sally’s circulation. AOML scientists providing onboard and remote support for these missions ensure that Tail Doppler Radar, dropsonde, and Stepped Frequency Microwave Radiometer (SFMR) measurements allow for adequate coverage of the storm environment.

In a new article published in the Journal of Climate, scientists at AOML and the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Science, with collaborators at Boston University, Texas A&M, and North Carolina State University, document the role of ocean dynamics in linking Pacific atmospheric variability to El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event generation. The results of the study could be used as a potential predictor of ENSO events up to a year in advance.

A very active peak in this year’s Atlantic hurricane season has prompted NOAA’s National Hurricane Center (NHC), Environmental Modeling Center (EMC), and AOML’s Hurricane Research Division to task their G-IV and both P-3 aircraft to investigate multiple storms in the Gulf of Mexico and mid-Atlantic.

Beach at Sunrise

A new paper appearing in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health examines how the presence of children’s open wounds and abrasions during play at the beach may put them at greater risk of skin infections from marine bacteria and other pathogens they encounter. The study finds that children with existing or newly-acquired wounds while at the beach are more susceptible to infection.

NOAA’s P-3 Hurricane Hunter aircraft completed a flight into Tropical Storm Nana in the Caribbean on the morning of September 2. AOML scientists onboard the aircraft, and from the ground, quality controlled and sent dropsonde and radar data to the Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) and National Hurricane Center (NHC) in real time.

A recent paper published in Atmosphere introduces a new update to the Basin-Scale Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF-B) model, which pairs an atmospheric model with an ocean model via new coupling technology to forecast several tropical cyclones simultaneously. This model, shown to improve forecast skill, was developed at AOML in collaboration with NOAA’s Environmental Modeling Center and the Developmental Testbed Center.

El Nino Satellite Image. Image Credit: NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS)

Despite their differences, it is still widely thought that Atlantic Niño is analogous to El Niño in many ways. Specifically, the atmosphere-ocean feedback responsible for the onset of Atlantic Niño is believed to be similar to that of El Niño, a process known as Bjerknes feedback. The near-surface trade winds blow steadily from east to west along the equator. When weaker-than-normal trade winds develop in the western Atlantic basin, downwelling equatorial Kelvin waves propagate to the eastern basin, deepening the thermocline and making it harder for the colder, deeper water to affect the surface.

AOML hurricane scientists coordinated with ground crews stationed in the path of Laura’s trajectory to obtain valuable measurements that captured the structural evolution of major Hurricane Laura upon landfall, while successfully completing all operational mission objectives.

AOML hurricane scientists supporting NOAA reconnaissance into Hurricane Laura recognized the onset of rapid intensification when thunderstorms, often referred to as convection, began working its way around the entirety of the storm center.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) upgraded Tropical Depression 13 to Tropical Storm Laura after yesterday morning’s reconnaissance mission confirmed gale-force surface winds within Laura’s vortex. AOML scientists provided remote support for onboard Tail Doppler Radar and dropsonde data processing and continue to do so for upcoming missions into the system.

With peak Atlantic hurricane season fast approaching, AOML scientists begin supporting NOAA Hurricane Hunter missions into Tropical Storm Laura. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) and Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) have tasked NOAA’s two P-3 aircraft to investigate the atmospheric conditions associated with the tropical storm.

In a recent study published in the journal Science Advances, oceanographers at AOML and the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies for the first time describe the daily variability of the circulation of key deep currents in the South Atlantic Ocean that are linked to climate and weather. The study found that the circulation patterns in the upper and deeper layers of the South Atlantic often vary independently of each other, an important new result about the broader Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) in the Atlantic.

NOAA’s P-3 Hurricane Hunters concluded their Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) tasked reconnaissance into Tropical Storm Isaias with real-time support from AOML’s Hurricane Research Division. The aircraft took off Monday, August 3 at 5 AM EDT, from Lakeland, Florida.

AOML scientists partnered with the U.S. Air Force 53rd Reconnaissance Squadron “Hurricane Hunters” to deploy eight drifting buoys in advance of Tropical Storm Isaias on August 3, 2020 off the Carolina coast, in collaboration with the National Weather Service (NWS), National Hurricane Center (NHC), and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

NOAA’s most recent P-3 mission provided scientists and forecasters with measurements indicating that Tropical Storm Isaias maintains its strength as it contends with an environment that is unfavorable for development. Scientists processed these data in real-time, and weather models used these observations to improve forecast performance.

NOAA reconnaissance continues into Tropical Storm Isaias today after their most recent P-3 Hurricane Hunter aircraft returns home from its 7-hour mission tasked by the Environmental Modeling Center (EMC), which took off at 4:30 AM EDT Saturday, August 1st.

NOAA’s P-3 aircraft will continue Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) tasked reconnaissance into Hurricane Isaias by penetrating the core of its circulation multiple times in order to obtain the most reliable measurements of its environmental conditions. The aircraft took off from Lakeland, FL Friday at 4:00 PM.

NOAA’s Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) has tasked their P-3 Hurricane Hunters for reconnaissance missions into Tropical Storm Isaias to begin Friday, July 31 at 4:00 AM with additional missions to follow in subsequent days.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) continues to task NOAA’s Hurricane Hunter aircraft NOAA43 into Tropical Storm Hanna located in the Gulf of Mexico. AOML radar and dropsonde experts are providing remotely-based data processing in support of these operational missions. The flights are scheduled to continue through Saturday morning, July 25, 2020.

The National Hurricane Center tasked NOAA’s Hurricane Hunter aircraft to investigate Tropical Depression Eight in the Gulf of Mexico Thursday, July 23, 2020.

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.

NOAA’s Global Ocean Monitoring and Observation Division and Global Drifter Program recently extended a helping hand to support deployment of commercial Spotter drifters, supported by the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research. These specialized drifters are designed to measure waves, in addition to winds and sea surface temperature, providing valuable data to scientists to be used in hurricane forecast models.

A recent study published in the journal Atmosphere evaluated for the first time, how well NOAA’s regional hurricane model was able to forecast the location and amount of devastating rainfall in 2017’s Hurricane Harvey. The Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) model predicted the realistic total rainfall and the location of the maximum rainfall of Hurricane Harvey, which were the most devastating impacts of the storm’s landfall in coastal Texas.

Originally Published Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at NOAA NESDIS

As we move through the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season, you will no doubt hear a lot about the Saharan Air Layer—a mass of very dry, dusty air that forms over the Sahara Desert during the late spring, summer and early fall. This layer can travel and impact locations thousands of miles away from its African origins, which is one reason why NOAA uses the lofty perspective of its satellites to track it.

Coastal communities surrounding the northern Caribbean Sea have experienced an abundance of brown algae, known as pelagic Sargassum, washing up along their beaches since 2011. In a recent study conducted by AOML scientists, it was found that Sargassum beaching predictions can be improved by accounting for windage in models.

According to AOML scientists, the advancements made in genomics and whole genome sequencing has completely redefined the understanding of Vibrio. These advances have helped provide a clearer picture of how bacteria spread, emerge, and cause disease. Vibrio is a genus of bacteria that has a strong affinity for the environmental conditions in freshwater and marine […]

In a recent article published in Geophysical Research Letters, AOML and CIMAS scientists investigated U.S. rainfall variability, focusing on the late summer to mid-fall (August-October) season. The main goal of the study was to identify potential predictors of U.S. precipitation during August-October and to explore the underlying physical mechanisms.

An AOML coral researcher uses a photo mosaic to locate a bleached coral head on a reef in the Florida Keys. Image credit: NOAA

AOML is proud to recognize the recent achievements of our outstanding scientists who were recently awarded the Department of Commerce Bronze Medal for outstanding contributions which have increased the efficiency and effectiveness of NOAA. Kelly Goodwin was honored for her Leadership in the development of the Omics program in NOAA. Ian and Derek are honored for their contributions to addressing Stoney Coral Tissue Loss Disease in the FL Keys.

CIMAS coral researcher Stephanie Rosales is exploring how physical habitat changes impact corals. Photo Credit: NOAA AOML.

New research on stony coral tissue loss disease reveals similar “bacterial signatures” among sick corals and nearby water and sediments for the first time. Results hint at how this deadly disease might spread, and which bacteria are associated with it, on Florida’s Coral Reef.

Leticia Barbero (University and Miami and NOAA AOML), chief scientist on the Gulf of Mexico and East Coast Carbon Cruise, holding a sample from the CTD.

New NOAA and partner research comparing ocean acidification around North America shows that the most vulnerable coastal waters are along the northern part of the east and west coasts. While previous research has looked at specific regions, the new study appearing in Nature Communications, is the first in-depth comparison of ocean acidification in all North American coastal ocean waters.

The Florida Keys Integrated Assessment (IEA) team, led by AOML in partnership with managers and scientists from the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, launched a new Ecosystem Status Report web tool on May 13th. The IEA approach aims to balance the needs of nature and society through Ecosystem-Based Management. It provides scientific knowledge of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary ecosystem to scientists, policy makers and resource managers. 

Recently, scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) explored the physical causes between U.S. tornado activity and the Madden-Julian Oscillation. In a study recently published in the Journal of Climate (Kim et al., 2020), they showed that a series of key atmosphere-ocean processes are involved in the remote impact of Madden-Julian Oscillation on U.S. tornado activity.

NOAA’s unique science mission benefits every American life every day in positive ways, including keeping Americans safer and contributing to greater US economic growth than ever before. In the next 50 years, NOAA will advance innovative research and technology, answer tough scientific questions, explore the unexplored, inspire new approaches to conservation, and continue its proud legacy of science, service, and stewardship.

At the 2020 international Ocean Sciences meeting, AOML microbiologist Kelly Goodwin helped NOAA unveil a new strategy for how the agency will dramatically expand its use of ‘Omics in the coming years. The ‘Omics strategy is one of four blueprints NOAA premiered that will guide transformative advancements in the quality and timeliness of its science, products, and services. 

Dr. Leticia Barbero is a chemical oceanographer at NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies at the University of Miami. In her role, she works with AOML to study the carbon dioxide system in the ocean, specifically ocean acidification in the coastal waters of the  U.S. East Coast and Gulf of Mexico.

Satellite image of Hurricane Micheal. Image Credit, NOAA.

In a recently published study, AOML hurricane researchers used multiple computer model forecasts to gain a better understanding of how Hurricane Michael, which made landfall in the panhandle of Florida with winds up to 162 mph, rapidly intensified despite strong upper-level wind shear which usually weakens hurricanes. By contrasting two sets of forecasts, the study found that Michael only rapidly intensified when rainfall completely surrounded Michael’s center, and when the eye of the storm itself was located in nearly the same place at different heights.

In honor of Women’s History Month, NOAA Research recently featured AOML microbiologist, Kelly Goodwin, in an article which gives readers a look inside the daily life of a researcher.  Kelly is a co-chair of the task force that’s laying out the plan to implement NOAA’s Omics Strategy, one of four science and technology strategies that aim to guide transformative advancements in the quality and timeliness of NOAA science, products and services.

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. 

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. 

A photo shows a cloudy seascape and deep ocean waters. Photo Credit: NOAA AOML.

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.

A photo of coral gables waterway

AOML scientists are collaborating with partners from the Northern Gulf Institute of the University of Mississippi, and the University of Miami’s Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies to tackle increasing nutrient levels throughout Biscayne Bay. A previous study detected the slow but steady eutrophication and warned of a regime shift towards murky algal dominated waters if better water quality management practices were not implemented.

Photo credit: NOAA, AOML.

The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season ended on November 30 but not before churning out 18 named storms, including catastrophic Hurricane Dorian. Throughout the season, AOML’s hurricane scientists were at the forefront of NOAA’s efforts to prepare vulnerable communities for severe weather.

Estimated observations of chlorophyll with simulated observations from satellite and 1000 BGC-Argo floats.

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. 

Photo of Sargassum Floating in Open Water. Photo Credit: Credit: NOAA Teacher at Sea Program, NOAA Ship OREGON II

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.

Students engage with our scientists to learn about AOML's carbon labs

NOAA is turning 50!  The federal science agency that provides daily weather forecasts, severe storm warnings, fisheries management, and coastal restoration, is celebrating by opening its doors to the south Florida community with a free open house on April 25th, 2020 from 10:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m.  What better way to celebrate Earth Day than seeing science in action with friends and family!

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.

Every year the Global Carbon Project publishes an authoritative observation based Global Carbon Budget detailing the annual release of fossil fuel carbon dioxide and the uptake by the terrestrial biosphere and oceans. In 2018 the global carbon emissions were still increasing, but their rate of increase had slowed. Global carbon emissions are set to grow more slowly in 2019, with a decline in coal burning offset by strong growth in natural gas use worldwide. 

Diagram that shows the interactions, exchange, and circulation of carbon dioxide within the ocean, identifying where satellite-based Earth observations are likely to play a leading role in expanding understanding and capability: (1) atmospheric measurements at the ocean surface; (2) quantifying gas, momentum, and heat atmosphere–ocean exchange processes; (3) capturing near-surface gradients in the water; and (4) measuring internal circulation and surface transport. Image from Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

The ability to predict Earth’s future climate relies upon monitoring efforts to determine the fate of carbon dioxide emissions. For example, how much carbon stays in the atmosphere or becomes stored in the oceans or on land? The oceans in particular have helped to slow climate change as they absorb and then store carbon dioxide for thousands of years.

AOML’s hurricane scientists and friends celebrated the last regularly scheduled tropical weather discussion of the year on October 18. While an AOML crew gathered data in Tropical Storm Nestor, those on the ground gathered for Aloha Friday. AOML hosted the daily discussions throughout hurricane season to review storm activity in the Atlantic and Pacific basins. This year’s discussions were presented by scientists and students from AOML, the National Hurricane Center, and an assortment of universities and cooperative institutes. Photo Credit: NOAA AOML.

AOML’s hurricane scientists conducted multiple airborne missions into several tropical systems that formed in the Atlantic in September and October. The data gathered in Humberto, Jerry, pre-Karen, Lorenzo, and Nestor improved track and intensity forecasts, aiding NOAA’s efforts to prepare vulnerable communities for severe weather. The missions also supported research to better understand how tropical cyclones form, intensify, and dissipate, as well as supported efforts to validate satellite measurements of these storms.

Ian Enochs presenting in experimental reef lab. Photo Credit: NOAA AOML.

November 19 – 21, 2019, AOML hosted a three day external review to evaluate the quality, performance, and relevance of our research portfolio. NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research conducts these reviews every five years to gauge the effectiveness of the research portfolios of all the labs, and also to forge new partnerships for research and collaborations across NOAA. Feedback received after the completion of the lab review will help set new priorities for AOML. The 2019 AOML review featured presentations from each science division, lightning talks from scientists, a poster session, lab tours, and an early career luncheon. We also had the pleasure of hosting Deputy NOAA Administrator Rear Admiral Tim Gallaudet at the opening of the review. 

The most dangerous part of the hurricane is the eyewall close to the ocean. It’s where the storm draws energy from heat in the water, which influences how strong – and how quickly – the storm will develop. It’s also where the strongest winds lurk.Direct and continuous observations of the lower eye-wall would help forecasters understand critical information about the storm’s development. NOAA P-3 “Hurricane Hunters” routinely fly through hurricane eyewalls to gather storm data, but avoid flying close to the ocean because conditions are too hazardous.

Ian Enochs, pictured with his wife and son, awarded with the DOC Silver Medal Award.

AOML coral ecologist, Ian Enochs, was recently awarded with the Department of Commerce Silver Medal Award for his leadership in developing and implementing the Sub-Surface Automated Sampler (SAS).  The DOC Silver Medal is awarded to federal employees for exceptional performance characterized by noteworthy contributions which have a direct and lasting impact.

Coral Biopsy

A new study by coral researchers from the University of Miami’s Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) and NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory suggests that the physical oceanographic habitat characteristics-such as, temperature, light availability, and water flow, of corals, may influence microbe communities and health of coral reefs.  The results showed a link between physical habitat and coral microbiology in coral reefs in southeast Florida. 

A macroplankton trawl equipped with Deep Vision, a camera system that gathers continuous images of passing organisms, is brought on deck after gathering fish from the mesopelagic zone.

Dr. Luke Thompson, a Northern Gulf Institute Assistant Research Professor at AOML, sailed aboard the Norwegian icebreaker RV Kronprins Haakon in May as part of a research effort focused on characterizing species that dwell in the mesopelagic zone—the region of the ocean 200–1000 meters below the surface. The cruise was undertaken to explore the potential for developing a new fishery based on ­mesopelagic fish.

Catastrophic Hurricane Dorian will be long remembered as one of the Atlantic basin’s most powerful landfalling hurricanes.  NOAA Hurricane Hunters measured Dorian’s intensification from a weak tropical storm in the Caribbean to one of the Atlantic’s fiercest hurricanes.  The data they gathered were vital to protecting life and property, supporting NOAA’s efforts to warn vulnerable communities of approaching severe weather through accurate forecasts.

A photo showing air pockets of Sargassum seaweed

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. 

AOML hurricane researchers capture Hurricane Dorian’s eye during rapid Intensification. Photo Credit: NOAA.

NOAA researchers have been working around the clock to collect vital data during Hurricane Dorian which is being used to improve present and future forecasts to protect and save vulnerable lives and property. Using technology aboard the NOAA Hurricane Hunter P-3 aircraft, AOML hurricane researchers were able to document the rapid intensification of Dorian as it approached the Bahamas.

Picture of O. faveolata colony synchronously releasing gamete bundles approximately 3.5 hours after sunset

Last week AOML and CIMAS coral researchers, Graham Kolodziej, Anderson Mayfield, and Derek Manzello, entered the ocean off of the Upper Florida Keys to collect tiny floating balls being released from the protected mountainous star coral (Orbicella faveolata). Taking place shortly after moonrise, the spawning process is a visually beautiful part of the circle of life for corals, releasing gametes into the ocean water to become fertilized and eventually settle to create new corals stony coral colonies.

An eAUV that will be used to detect algal blooms in the Great Lakes.

Two underwater robots will be gliding throughout the western Lake Erie basin this week, as NOAA and its partners at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) test technology to autonomously monitor and measure the toxicity of harmful algal blooms in the Great Lakes. 

Image showing Canal leading to Biscayne Bay

An analysis of 20 years of water quality data shows that Biscayne Bay, a NOAA Habitat Focus Area off southeast Florida, is degrading, as scientists have identified early warning signs that could help inform managers to prevent a regime shift of the bay’s ecosystem.In a recent study published in Estuaries and Coasts, scientists from NOAA and partner organizations detected an increasing trend in chlorophyll and nutrient levels from 48 monitoring stations throughout Biscayne Bay.

AOML Director Dr. John Cortinas has been elected to become a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society. Fellows are elected for their “­outstanding contributions to the atmospheric or ­related oceanic or hydrologic sciences or their ­applications during a substantial ­period of years.” John has been member of the American Meteorological Society since 1983, supporting the organization as an associate editor for the journals Weather and Forecasting and Monthly Weather Review. Additionally, John has served as the AMS Chairperson of the Minority Scholarship Committee, a member of the Board on Women and Minorities, and as a member of the Weather Analysis and Forecasting Committee. 

A NOAA ocean glider begins a dive

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.  

Evan Forde, an AOML oceanographer, was named the Federal ­Employee of the Year for Community Service at the 54th annual South Florida ­Federal ­Executive Board’s banquet on June 21st. For more than 30 years, Evan has volunteered hundreds of hours annually to creating/enhancing public education and youth opportunities.

AOML oceanographer Evan B. Forde was named the Federal ­Employee of the Year for the Service to the Community category at the 54th annual South Florida Federal ­Executive Board’s banquet on June 21st.  For over 30 years Forde has volunteered hundreds of hours per year to creating/enhancing public education and spoken to over 70,000 South […]

Celebrity Flora is the first vessel in the Galapagos to be equipped with cutting-edge oceanographic research equipment, known as Oceanscope. Image: Celebrity Cruises

A unique collaboration between Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd (RCL) and the University of Miami’s (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science is amassing an incredibly valuable dataset highlighting the intricate connection between the ocean, atmosphere and climate. Over the past 20 years UM has benefited from many scientific collaborators in this endeavor, most importantly, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) contributing their own scientific expertise and scientific equipment.

An image of Hurricane Harvey 2017

Hurricane season is officially upon us and researchers at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory are excited about new model developments and innovative technology to improve hurricane forecasting.  AOML’s deputy director, Molly Baringer, briefed Congresswomen Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Donna Shalala on May 30th, 2019 about the science behind the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook and advancements led by AOML and other NOAA offices in the field of hurricane forecasting.

Dr. Luke Thompson (center) is congratulated by OAR Assistant Administrator Craig McLean (left) and Stuart Levenbach of NOAA’s Office of the Under Secretary/ Administrator (right) at the OAR Awards Ceremony in Silver Spring, Maryland on March 12.

Dr. Luke Thompson, a Northern Gulf Institute professor with AOML’s Ocean Chemistry and Ecosystems Division, and AOML coauthor Kelly Goodwin are the recipients of an Outstanding Scientific Paper Award from NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) for their landmark paper entitled A communal catalogue reveals Earth’s multiscale microbial diversity. The paper was selected by OAR as the top FY-2018 science article in the Oceans and Great Lakes category. Thompson et al. (2017)* presents an analysis of microbial samples collected by hundreds of researchers worldwide for the Earth Microbiome Project. The paper serves as both a reference database and a framework for incorporating data from future studies, advancing the characterization and understanding of Earth’s microbial diversity

Dr. John Cortinas, new director of NOAA AOML

John Cortinas, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s Office of Weather and Air Quality, today was named the new director of NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory in Miami. He will begin the new position on July 8.“John Cortinas brings proven vision and leadership experience in NOAA to the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory where he will lead the lab’s basic and applied research to improve the prediction of severe storms and deliver an enriched scientific understanding of our oceans for all of NOAA,” said Craig McLean, NOAA assistant administrator for NOAA Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.

Deputy Director of AOML, Dr. Molly Baringer.

Authors: Heidi Van Buskirk Date: 5/31/19 Each year Miami Today publishes The Best of Miami edition to highlight people and organizations from multiple fields that make a difference in the community. The special edition articles focus on the best in each respective field from arts and culture to health and medicine to international business and role […]

NOAA scientists stand next to an eAUV equipped with a 3rd Generation Environmental Sample Processor before deployment.

Scientists from NOAA and the Monterey Bay Research Institute (MBARI) are teaming up on June 3-4, 2019 to conduct a complex mission which will integrate acoustic measurements and autonomous sample collection for analysis of environmental DNA (eDNA).  Through these efforts NOAA scientists hope to develop faster and cheaper ecosystem assessment methods, ensure sustainable fisheries and broaden our understanding of life in the oceans.

National Park Service staff visit the newly deployed ocean acidification buoy in Fagatele Bay, in the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa.

NOAA and partners have launched a new buoy in Fagatele Bay within NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa to measure the amount of carbon dioxide in the waters around a vibrant tropical coral reef ecosystem. “This new monitoring effort in a remote area of the Pacific Ocean will not only advance our understanding of changing ocean chemistry in this valuable and vibrant coral ecosystem but will also help us communicate these changes to diverse stakeholders in the Pacific Islands and across the United States,” said Derek Manzello, coral ecologist with NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory.

Image of AOML's Temperature Sensors arranged on tabletop

Researchers with AOML’s Ocean Chemistry and Ecosystems Division have entered into a collaborative agreement with Reef Check Foundation to deploy an AOML-designed temperature sensor at coral reef sites around the world. Measuring only six inches in height, the inexpensive, highly-accurate sensors will greatly enhance efforts to more precisely monitor small-scale temperature fluctuations that occur at reefs over time and at various depths.

Subsurface Automated Samplers on the reef. Photo Credit, NOAA.

AOML researchers have taken an innovative approach to studying the changing carbonate chemistry of seawater at shallow coral reef sites. Using 3D printing technology made possible by the new Advanced Manufacturing and Design Lab at AOML, researchers with the Acidification, Climate, and Coral Reef Ecosystems Team, or ACCRETE, have created a water sampler in-house.

Sea Level Feedback on AMOC

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.

Scientists lift a CTD rosette on board to collect ocean carbon samples. image credit: Nicolas Gruber, ETH, Switzerland

The new research published by NOAA and international partners in Science finds as carbon dioxide emissions have increased in the atmosphere, the ocean has absorbed a greater volume of emissions. Though the volume of carbon dioxide going into the ocean is increasing, the percentage of emissions — about 31 percent — absorbed by it has remained relatively stable when compared to the first survey of carbon in the global ocean published in 2004.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Dr. Daniel L. Albritton Outstanding Science Communicator Award recognizes outstanding achievement in communicating the meaning and value of NOAA-related science and research to non-scientific audiences. The award is named in honor of Dr. Daniel L. Albritton, a retired OAR scientist, who proved to be one of the most effective communicators of NOAA research and related science.

AOML hurricane researchers supported nearly all of the 50 missions NOAA’s Hurricane Hunter aircraft flew into eight tropical systems in 2018’s hurricane season, collecting data to help improve forecasts for future storms. The final flight into Hurricane Lane would make history for several reasons. Hurricane Lane was part of NOAA’s first hurricane deployment out of Hawaii, and one of those flights was led by the first all-female science crew on the flying laboratory. For Women’s History Month, we are proud to highlight this milestone and recognize the members of the first all-female science crew on a hurricane flight.

Global meridional overturning circulation (GMOC) revisited. Photo Credit: NOAA AOML/.

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.

In a new article accepted for publication in the Geophysical Research Letters, Ricardo Domingues (CIMAS University of Miami & NOAA/AOML) and his coauthors explored the observed rapid sea level rise along the U.S. East Coasts during 2010-2015, which is linked to extensive flooding and “sunny day” flooding (or nuisance flooding) events in large urban areas including Norfolk, Baltimore, Charleston, and Miami, among others.

Photo of research being done on Red Tide from the R/V Walton Smith. Photo Credit: NOAA AOML.

AOML recently led a multi-agency (NOAA/AOML, NOAA/SEFSC, State of Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, NOAA/NESDIS, University of South Florida, MOTE Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, and University of Miami) research cruise to study the effects of Southwest Florida’s ongoing red tide. To address such a complex problem as red tide, the cruise brought together a diverse team of experts consisting of commercial fishermen, oceanographers, systems ecologist, phytoplankton ecologist, and fish population biologist. This cruise allowed researchers to take a holistic approach to characterize the extent of the red tide and its impacts. The goal of the cruise was to understand why these blooms happen to better inform effective future response measures and hopefully improve Florida’s resilience to these coastal events. 

Beach at Sunrise

Few accessible places represent Earth’s natural beauty quite like our beaches, but looks can be deceiving if there is a bacterial outbreak or contamination from offshore activities. Not being able to see these contaminants puts families at risk of exposure if they aren’t properly warned. The BEACHES project (Beach Exposure And Child Health Study), a collaboration between the University of Miami’s College of Engineering and the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies and AOML, along with the Universities of Arkansas and Texas, aims to pair child behavioral science with microbiology to address exposure risk of beachgoers.

Study area with shaded colors representing the ocean depths in meters from the ETOPO1 dataset. The thin black line denotes the eastern portion of the SAMBA mooring line; the black crosses and red squares represent the tall mooring and CPIES positions, respectively. The annually averaged sea-surface temperature values for 2015 from the ODYSSEA dataset are plotted with colored contours.

In a recent article published in the journal “Ocean Science”, Marion Kersale (CIMAS, PhOD) collaborated with scientists from South Africa and France to explore the buoyancy and velocity changes due to eddies, dipoles, and current filaments in the Cape Basin using two observational systems that are part of the South Atlantic Meridional overturning circulation Basin-wide Array (SAMBA) at 34.5°S.

eAUV post-deployment. Photo Credit: NOAA.

In a collaborative effort between NOAA, the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, research merging robotics with biochemistry will give us a detailed, three-dimensional picture of harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie in near real-time and take water samples for genomic analysis. The end goal is a Harmful Algal Bloom forecast to help managers make decisions about environmental health and public safety pertaining to the lake. AOML’s own Dr. Kelly Goodwin is participating in the project to help with instrument and sample recovery.

GOES-16 Satellite Image Micheal

AOML drives improvements to hurricane forecasts by leveraging expertise in tropical cyclone observations, research, and modeling. Our numerical weather modeling team uses HWRF to test new technology and advance hurricane prediction through data collection, assimilation, and experimental modeling.

From August 6th to the 10th, AOML researchers, in partnership with the University of Miami and the University of South Florida, embarked on a cruise to investigate water quality along South Florida’s coasts. Two teams alternated to complete 24-hour sampling and data collection.

 In August 2018, a team of biological oceanographers and ecologists set sail on the R/V Walton Smith to sample the waters of Biscayne Bay & Florida Bay. AOML has conducted regular interdisciplinary observations of south Florida coastal waters since the early 1990’s. We spoke with Chris Keble, the lead scientist for AOML’s South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Research project, to learn more.

Ubaldo Lopez of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez prepares to launch NOAA ocean gliders in the summer of 2017 off Puerto Rico.

NOAA will soon launch a fleet of 15 unmanned gliders in the Caribbean Sea and tropical Atlantic Ocean this hurricane season to collect important oceanic data that could prove useful to forecasters. “If you want to improve prediction of how hurricanes gain strength or weaken as they travel over the ocean, it’s critical to take the ocean’s temperature and measure how salty it is,” said Gustavo Goni, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory who is helping lead the glider research. “Not just at the surface, which we measure with satellites, but down into deeper layers of ocean waters.”

Alyssa and Austin at Sunset. Photo Credit Kelly Montero, NOAA.

AOML researchers recently participated in the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Research Cruise, a survey of south Florida’s coastal waters on June 22-26 aboard the R/V Savannah. These cruises have investigated coastal water quality in south Florida since the late 1990s. The science crew collected samples to measure nutrients, plankton, productivity, chlorophyll a, and dissolved inorganic carbon. They also recorded salinity and temperature to help monitor ecosystem restoration efforts in south Florida. These cruises have an additional focus on lower trophic level dynamics downstream from the Shark River on the southwest Florida shelf.

Florida Coral Disease April 2018

NOAA contributed to a study published today in the journal Nature that compares the upward growth rates of coral reefs with predicted rates of sea-level rise and found many reefs would be submerged in water so deep it will hamper their growth and survival. The study was done by an international team of scientists led by the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. 

Global Drifter in Water Mt. Rainer

NOAA’s Global Drifter Program is a globally collaborative research project that provides near real-time marine data for the world. It allows us to record data for weather forecasts, track decadal patterns, and pinpoint inter-annual climate variations like El Nino Southern Oscillation. Global drifters provide observational verification for weather models, calibrate satellite observations, and collect and transfer new data about the ocean temperature, currents and barometric pressure.

Cruise team board aboard the Ronald H. Brown. Photo Credit: NOAA.

NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown continues to make its way around the world deploying many devices to observe the ocean. These platforms measure temperature, salinity, and ocean currents. This creates a network of ocean data that can be used to understand its physical dynamics and help us understand and anticipate change in weather, climate, and even ecosystems.

Argo Deployment 2017

Staff with the US Argo Data Acquisition Center (DAC) at AOML marked an important milestone this past February by processing the one millionth profile from Argo floats. The DAC team has been processing and quality controlling all of the raw data obtained from US-deployed Argo floats since 2001, with about 90,000 temperature-salinity profiles processed annually since 2007. These profiles have provided the global scientific community with an unprecedented record of the evolving state of the upper ocean, advancing understanding of the ocean’s role in world climate.

Different shades of blue ocean on IO7. Photo Credit: NOAA.

Below the surface of our ocean there is another, smaller world that moves fast and breathes in and out with the ocean. Zooplankton communities likely create the fastest source of sinking carbon to the deeper ocean, and studying this process can help us understand more about the carbon cycle and how it affects us. Victoria Coles, Scientist aboard the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown, can tell you more in her post “Biome Beneath the Surface.”

A beautiful sunrise I got to see while waiting for my turn at the rosette. Photo Credit: NOAA.

The NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown is taking scientists across the Indian Ocean on a research cruise to study the ocean’s chemistry, water temperature, and other physical dynamics. Holly Westbrook, a RSMAS scientist aboard the Ronald H. Brown talks about life on a research cruise. Close quarters, beautiful sunrises, and making friends- sub the lab coats for sunglasses!

A full view of instruments attached to the platform. The LADCPs are the yellow instruments and the battery pack is the large cylinder sitting in front of the downlooker LADCP. Photo Credit: NOAA.

NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown is taking scientists across the Indian Ocean on a research cruise to understand more about our ocean’s chemistry, temperature, and physical processes. The newest Live Science update follows Amanda Fay as she uses a Lowered Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (LADCP) to measure the speed of the water through the water column. When the instrument is lowered to depth, sound is sent out and reflected back from particles in the water, giving a complete profile of water column movement. To find out more about how this works in action, visit the GO-SHIP I07N Cruise blog post.

View from the botanical gardens in Victoria. Photo Credit: NOAA.

Scientists aboard the Ronald H. Brown for the GO-SHIP cruise arrive at port for some welcomed R&R in the Seychelles Islands, a chain of rocky islands northeast of Madagascar. Read more about the experience.

Drifter Station Open House 2018

May 10-12, 2018, AOML partnered with our colleagues on Virginia Key to welcome south Florida students and families to a NOAA Open House! The interactive scientific experience centered around three NOAA entities: AOML, the Southeast Fisheries Science Center, and the Miami Weather Forecast Office, as well as the University of Miami Rosenstiel School,  MAST Academy, and the ANGARI Foundation. Over the three-day event, 859 guests learned more about the federal agency that provides daily weather forecasts, severe storm warnings, climate monitoring, fisheries management, coral monitoring, and coastal restoration.

The interactive experience rotated from the NOAA facilities on Virginia Key, to the University of Miami Rosenstiel School’s Experimental Fish Hatchery and SUSTAIN research facility. Participants also visited the MAST Academy Land SHARC and Weather on Wheels mobile outreach programs, and learned about weather forecasting from NOAA weather forecasters.

ANGARI VR Film to Premiere at NOAA. Photo Credit: ANGARI.

The premiere of Generation Ocean: Coral Reefs is open to the public and will take place during NOAA’s Open House this Saturday, May 12th, from 10 am – 3 pm at AOML, 4301 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL. During the Open House, attendees will be able to not only experience the premiere of ANGARI Foundation’s new 360/VR film, but will also have the opportunity to meet NOAA scientists, tour the facilities, and learn about hurricanes, corals, fisheries, weather, and more.

R/V MIARI. Photo Credit: JAMSTEC.

Scientists aboard the Ronald H. Brown for the GO-SHIP engage in international collaboration to monitor carbon dioxide dynamics to understand how the oceans help the Earth regulate its temperature. JAMSTEC and NOAA have a long history of international collaboration, find out more about it on the GO-SHIP Blog.

How does the ocean move, and how can you tell? Katey Williams aboard the GO-SHIP I07 Cruise is tracking Chloroflurocarbons (CFCs) through gas chromatography to study how water masses migrate through the ocean. Find out more on the GO-SHIP I07N Blog.

CTD Descending, Photo Credit NOAA

NOAA Scientists, along with partnering institutions have embarked on a two-month research cruise in the Western Indian Ocean to monitor the ocean basins from coast to coast and top to bottom to find out how the ocean has evolved over the past 23 years. The Global Ocean Ship-Based Hydrographic Investigations Program (GO-SHIP) 107N cruise is sending live updates from the Indian Ocean. Check out the post to find out what it’s like aboard a NOAA research vessel. Here are some photos of CTD operation and deployment by one of our partnering scientists, Yashwant Meghare.

Cheeca Moasaic Comparison

A recent study by AOML and partners identified coral communities at Cheeca Rocks in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary that appear to be more resilient than other nearby reefs to coral bleaching after back to back record breaking hot summers in 2014 and 2015 and increasingly warmer waters. This local case study provides a small, tempered degree of optimism that some Caribbean coral communities may be able to acclimate to warming waters.

AOML scientists, Hosmay Lopez and his colleagues used observations as well as model simulations of 20th Century climate and 21st Century projections to show that the occurrence of heat waves in the U.S. are on the rise and will continue to do so in the coming decades. This research was recently published in Nature Climate Change.

R/V Ronald H. Brown

Existing observations show that Indian Ocean surface water temperatures have been increasing since the 1970’s. But has the deep ocean warmed? Have the regional concentrations of dissolved oxygen, carbon dioxide, or nutrients changed? Has the western Indian Ocean become more acidic? These and more questions will be addressed by scientists after the completion of this cruise.

Surface drifter being deployed. Image credit: NOAA

Researchers from AOML’s Physical Oceanography Division recently deployed three surface drifters and ten special spot trace drift buoys, all contributed by NOAA, in the Caribbean Sea to help to identify the site of where an Argentine Air Force C-54E Skymaster aircraft crashed in 1965. The data gathered by the drifters will help back track the possible location of the lost aircraft based on the location of life vests recovered during search operations after the crash. These deployments are part of a larger effort in support of the Argentine Air Force and search and rescue operations professionals from the US, Costa Rica, Panama and Argentina to locate the remains of the flights. Mr. Jose Rivera of NOAA, Captain Marcelo Covelli from Perfectura Naval Argentina and Licenciado Mariano Torres Garcia, representing the Argentine Air Force, are closely coordinating the 4th Expedition in the Caribbean Sea to locate the remains of TC48 and its 68 crew members on April 2018.

Major Heatwave Clusters (1900-2010). Image Credit NOAA.

Climate projections for the twenty-first century suggest an increase in the occurrence of heat waves. However, the time at which externally forced signals of anthropogenic climate change (ACC) emerge against background natural variability (time of emergence (ToE)) has been challenging to quantify, which makes future heat-wave projections uncertain. In a new article published in Nature Climate Change (Lopez et al., 2018), Hosmay Lopez and his team combine observations and model simulations under present and future forcing to assess how internal variability and ACC modulate US heat waves.

Pete Mangelsdorf of Raytheon, Kelly Ryan and Joe Cione of NOAA/AOML accepting the Laureate Award. Image credit: NOAA

NOAA/AOML hurricane scientists attended the Aviation Week and Science Technology Laureate Awards in Washington D.C. to receive Aviation Week magazine’s prestigious Laureate award for Dual Defense Use. The NOAA/Raytheon team was recognized for using Coyote Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) during missions into Hurricane Maria, to help track and model hurricanes.

Joe Cione with Coyote

NOAA AOML scientists attended the Aviation Week and Science Technology Laureate Awards in Washington D.C. to receive Aviation Week magazine’s prestigious Laureate award for Dual Defense Use. The NOAA/Raytheon team was recognized for using Raytheon Coyote Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to track and model hurricanes.

AOML oceanographers Christopher Meinen and Molly Baringer participated in the development of a new thirteen-year-long record of the daily Atlantic ocean overturning that has recently been released. This project is a collaboration between a large team of researchers at NOAA, at the University of Miami ,and at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, United Kingdom.

A new analysis of heat wave patterns appearing in Nature Climate Change focuses on four regions of the United States where human-caused climate change will ultimately overtake natural variability as the main driver of heat waves. Climate change will drive more frequent and extreme summer heat waves in the Western United States by late 2020’s, the Great Lakes region by mid 2030’s, and in the northern and southern Plains by 2050’s and 2070’s, respectively.

“These are the years that climate change outweighs natural variability as the cause of heat waves in these regions,” said Hosmay Lopez, a meteorologist at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic Meteorological Laboratory and the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies and lead author of the study. “Without human influence, half of the extreme heat waves projected to occur in the future wouldn’t happen.”

Following a buoyancy lesson, the kids were tasked with building their own buoy. The winning buoy held more than 33 golf balls! Image credit: NOAA

Each year, AOML scientists have the opportunity to bring their children to work, where they are taught about different aspects of the research being performed within the three divisions of AOML. This year, the children partook in lessons and activities in the subjects of buoyancy, density, ocean currents and circulation, marine debris, ecosystem based management, and ocean observations.

CARICOOS Team

Scientists strategically deployed the gliders during the peak of hurricane season, from July through November 2017, collecting data in regions where hurricanes commonly travel and intensify. The gliders continually gathered temperature and salinity profile data, generating more than 4,000 profiles to enhance scientific understanding of the air-sea interaction processes that drive hurricane intensification.

Pirata Buoys on the back of the R/V Ronald H. Brown. Special thanks to the Crew of the Ronald H. Brown for capturing the Scientists at Sea. Photo Credit: NOAA.

The manuscript “An enhanced PIRATA data set for tropical Atlantic ocean-atmosphere research”, by Greg Foltz, Claudia Schmid, and Rick Lumpkin, was accepted for publication in Journal of Climate. It describes a new set of daily time series (ePIRATA) that is based on the measurements from 17 moored buoys of the Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic (PIRATA).

Plankton samples collected in a successful plankton tow. Image credit: NOAA

AOML scientists recently returned from the first cruise of 2018. As part of the South Florida Project, regional surveys over the southwest Florida shelf and the Florida Keys reef tract are routinely performed aboard the R/V F.G. Walton Smith on a bimonthly basis, to keep a watchful eye over sensitive marine habitats found in the region. Sampling methodologies include discrete sampling and flow through measurements of water quality and chemistry, and biological oceanographic parameters.

Researchers at AOML, NESDIS CoastWatch, and the University of Miami are currently exploring how the distribution of marine debris is affected by both ocean currents and wind. During a recent experiment, scientists deployed several prototype drifters in the Florida Current off the coast of Miami to simulate commonly found debris of varying weights and shapes. These drifters carry GPS transmitters that provide their location four times per day. 

PIRATA Array

Researchers at NOAA AOML have released a new tropical Atlantic data set that includes several enhancements to improve data accuracy and data collection in the tropical Atlantic. The new data set is called enhanced PIRATA, or ePIRATA, and provides continuous records of upper-ocean temperature, salinity, and currents, together with meteorological data such as winds, humidity, and solar radiation. ePIRATA should prove valuable in better analyzing ocean and atmospheric processes in the tropical Atlantic.

PIRATA, the Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic, is a multinational observation network, established to improve knowledge and understanding of ocean-atmosphere variability in the tropical Atlantic. It is a joint project of Brazil, France and the United States of America, motivated by fundamental scientific issues and by societal needs for improved prediction of climate variability and its impact on the countries surrounding the tropical Atlantic basin. PIRATA provides measurements at 18 locations throughout the tropical Atlantic

Decadal Modulations of Global Monsoons and Extreme Weather Events by SAMOC. Image Credit: NOAA AOML.

There have been many efforts to understand the role of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) as a potential predictor of decadal climate variability, motivated partly by its inherent relationship with North Atlantic sea surface temperature. In contrast, there is currently limited knowledge about the underlying mechanisms that govern the South Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (SAMOC) variability and how it might feedback into climate, partly due to the small number of direct observations in this ocean basin.

Interannual-to-Decadal Variability of the SAMOC. Image Credit: NOAA AOML.

Recent studies have suggested the possibility of the southern origin of the Atlantic MHT anomalies. These studies have used General Circulation Models (GCMs) to demonstrate covariability between the South Atlantic MOC (SAMOC) and the Southern Hemisphere westerlies at interannual to longer time scales. However, it has been pointed out that the sensitivity of the SAMOC to the changes in the Southern Hemisphere westerlies depends critically on the representation of mesoscale eddies in those models.

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Lost Years

The behavior and movement of sea turtles during their first few years at sea, known as the ‘lost years’, remains largely a mystery. Researchers from NOAA-AOML, NOAA Fisheries, University of Central Florida, and Projecto TAMAR recently collaborated on a study to explore the mechanisms of dispersal in Brazilian loggerhead turtles, to fill in some of these important early life history gaps. A previous study conducted in the Gulf of Mexico debunked the historic belief that young sea turtles rely solely on riding currents as a passive mechanism of dispersal. This latest study uncovers new drivers behind the travels of young sea turtles, suggesting there may be more of an ecological implication behind their behavior than previously realized.

Panel of experts, from left to right: Laura Bracken, Dr. Rolando Santos Corujo, Dr. Chris Kelble, Dr. Tiffany Troxler, Matthew Smith and Xavier Cortada. Image credit: NOAA

This past Saturday, December 2nd, the FIU School of Environment, Arts and Society and FIU Sea Level Solutions Center hosted their “Changing Waters” event: an innovative science-art event focused on the issue of sea level rise. The event featured a science panel with experts from a variety of disciplines in addition to musical and theatrical performances inspired by the global rise of sea levels and the search for solutions. AOML researcher and oceanographer Chris Kelble sat on the panel, sharing his unique knowledge of water quality in Biscayne Bay and the impact of sea level rise in South Florida’s coastal communities.

Scientist in Antartica

In an effort to better understand our microbiomes, scientists from NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) took part in a massive global research collaboration known as the Earth Microbiome Project (EMP), which recently released the first reference database, or atlas, of microbes covering the planet. This guide, released online in Nature today, will allow scientists to collaborate on studies and catalogue microbial diversity at an unprecedented scale.

2017's Active Hurricane Season

Over the past 20 years, improvements in hurricane computer modeling, observational instrumentation, and forecaster training have greatly increased forecast accuracy. The many complex interactions that occur within the atmosphere remain to be fully understood, especially at the small scales associated with tropical cyclones. However, these milestones mark critical advances in numerical weather prediction that are paving the way to the next generation of NOAA models. While hurricanes cannot be controlled, vulnerability to these complex storms can be reduced through preparedness. Early warning and improved accuracy of forecasts can help save lives and reduce property damages caused by hurricanes.

In a new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a team of scientists including researchers from NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) explore the future risk of waterborne disease in a warming climate. Recently, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) developed an interactive online tool that can be used to monitor coastal marine areas with environmental conditions favorable to Vibrio growth, aquatic bacteria that can cause human illness. The Vibrio Map Viewer is a real-time global model that uses daily updated remote sensing data to determine marine areas vulnerable to higher levels of Vibrio.

Orbicella faveolata

Coral scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) are in the process of analyzing data that may shed light on the sub-lethal effects of sedimentation stress in coral larvae. Scientists recently conducted a series of lab experiments aimed at assessing the effects of Port of Miami dredge sediments on the larval performance of the Caribbean threatened coral Orbicella faveolata (also known as the mountainous star coral). Preliminary analysis suggests significant effects of sedimentation on both the survival and settlement of coral larvae.

Hurricane Aircraft

AOML is currently in the midst of a multi-year effort called the Intensity Forecasting Experiment (IFEX). IFEX aims to improve the understanding and prediction of intensity change by collecting observations from all stages of a tropical cyclone life cycle—genesis to decay—to enhance current observational models. By building on years of observational expertise and cutting-edge approaches to data integration and model development, hurricane scientists at AOML lead advancements in observations and modeling that have improved intensity forecasts by 20% in recent years.

Drop sonde

Observations of the atmosphere are critical to every aspect of weather forecasting. While there are several new and improved tools used to enhance storm forecasts, weather balloons prevail as one of the longest running and most dependable tools deployed by meteorologists. Released twice a day, every day of the year in the U.S. – sometimes more frequently during extreme weather events – weather balloons, also known as radiosondes, provide detailed and reliable data that ultimately help predict the path of storms.

Scientists deploying the CTD. Image credit: NOAA

Throughout the month of October, AOML scientists were hard at work surveying south Florida’s coastal waters. The research team focused on monitoring water quality, seagrass beds, and juvenile sport fish populations throughout Florida Bay, Biscayne Bay, Florida Keys and the southwest Florida shelf. These surveys assessed ocean temperatures, salinity, nutrients, environmental DNA and primary productivity to better understand how south Florida’s coastal ecosystems were impacted by the passage of Hurricane Irma.

Inside the eye of Irma on P3 Orion aircraft. This is referred to as the “stadium effect”. Image credit: NOAA

The 2017 hurricane season has already fulfilled forecaster predictions of a busy year. Hurricane Harvey rapidly strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane before making landfall in Texas, late on August 25th.

Hurricane Andrew made landfall in Homestead, Florida, on August 24, 1992, with sustained wind speeds maxing out at 165 mph. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the storm, still one of the most catastrophic and costliest hurricanes in US History.

The GOMECC-3 science team. Image credit: NOAA

AOML scientists have returned from the third Gulf of Mexico Ecosystems and Carbon Cycle cruise (GOMECC-3), which took place to perform a large-scale survey of ocean acidification trends and dynamics in the Gulf of Mexico aboard NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown from July 18 through August 21, 2017.

Oceanographer Claudia Schmid captures the solar eclipse from AOML. Image credit: NOAA

On August 21st, 2017, the entire nation celebrated a unique celestial event: the first total solar eclipse to cross the contiguous United States in 99 years.

Hurricane Andrew

Hurricane Andrew made landfall around 5 am in Homestead, Florida, on August 24, 1992, with sustained wind speeds maxing out at 165 mph. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the storm, still one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in US History. Andrew developed into a Category-5 hurricane in no more than 36 hours, roaring across south Florida and decimating the urban landscape in its wake. Not only did the storm reconfigure much of south Florida, causing an estimated $26.5 billion in direct damages in 1992, but it also led to a reconfiguration of the tools now used to study, forecast, prepare for, and respond to hurricanes. Many AOML staff members who lived in south Florida when the storm struck remain at the laboratory today, inspired by Hurricane Andrew to enhance the science behind forecasts and mitigate future damages from tropical cyclones.

Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR) Editors' Highlight

“Much of the work on the cause of Antarctic sea ice over recent decades has focused on atmospheric drivers but this paper focuses on the ocean’s role. The authors analyse the trend of Antarctic sea ice over the past 35 years on the basis of satellite data and model simulations forced with atmospheric reanalysis products. Their findings suggest that ocean processes play a crucial role in determining the seasonality of sea ice trends. They also reveal that the sea-ice response is regional.”

In a recent study published in Weather and Forecasting,* AOML researchers and their colleagues used NOAA’s HWRFHYCOM operational hurricane forecast model to quantify the impact of assimilating underwater glider data and other ocean observations into the intensity forecasts of Hurricane Gonzalo (2014). Gonzalo formed in the tropical North Atlantic east of the Lesser Antilles on October […]

On July 18, NOAA AOML and partner scientists will depart on the Gulf of Mexico Ecosystems and Carbon Cycle (GOMECC-3) research cruise in support of NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Monitoring Program. This isn’t the first time researchers will head to sea in this region. Previous cruises have taken place along the east and Gulf of Mexico (GOM) coasts of the US in both 2007 and 2012. Together, these cruises provide coastal ocean measurements of unprecedented quality that are used both to improve our understanding of where ocean acidification (OA) is happening and how ocean chemistry patterns are changing over time. This will be the most comprehensive OA cruise to date in this region, set to include sampling in the international waters of Mexico for the first time. Ocean acidification is a global issue with global impacts, and international collaboration like this is vital to understanding and adapting to our changing oceans. 

2017 Interns

Each year, NOAA AOML welcomes a group of talented students from across the country to join our team by way of summer internships. Seventeen highly motivated students have traveled to our laboratory in Miami to work alongside leading oceanic and atmospheric research scientists. NOAA internships, scholarships, and fellowships provide students with an unparalleled opportunity to develop and fine tune their research and field skills, giving them a glimpse of what it takes to establish a professional career in a federal research laboratory. Each student works side by side with a AOML mentor, who help to advise the students along their chosen scientific career paths and various research projects. Here at AOML, these career opportunities include jobs in physical oceanography, ocean chemistry and ecosystems, hurricane research, engineering, computer science and communications.

Group photo of the IMPACT students and mentors. Image credit: NOAA

This June, AOML hosted students from the Frost Science Upward Bound Math and Science program. This program provides high school students with access to mentors and technology, interaction with scientists, as well the IMPACT (Integrated Marine Program and College Training) Summer Program, in which they delve specifically into marine science.

Experimental Reef Lab

Coral researchers at AOML unveiled a new state of the art experimental laboratory this spring at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel campus. The new “Experimental Reef Laboratory” will allow NOAA scientists and colleagues to study the molecular mechanisms of coral resiliency. Modeling studies indicate that thermal stress and ocean acidification will worsen in the coming decades. Scientists designed the Experimental Reef Laboratory to study the combined effect of these two threats, and determine if some corals are able to persist in a changing environment.

Dr. Atlas presents Gladys with a gift. Image credit: NOAA

AOML employees commemorated Gladys Medina’s retirement after 45 years of federal service as executive assistant to the AOML director.

Sang-Ki Lee accepts his award. Image credit: NOAA

Congratulations to AOML’s research oceanographer Sang-Ki Lee for winning the scientific category at the 52nd Annual Federal Employee of the Year Award Program on May 12th.

AOML Scientists teaching visitors about hurricane data collection. Image credit: NOAA

On May 12th, 2017, AOML oceanographic and meteorological scientists participated in the final leg of NOAA’s Hurricane Awareness Tour in Miami at the Opa-Locka Executive Airport.

The ABIISS prototype successfully recovered after 18 months nearly three miles down on the bottom of the ocean. Image credit: NOAA

AOML scientists and colleagues from the University of Miami took part in a 17-day research cruise aboard R/V Endeavor in support of the NOAA-funded Western Boundary Time Series project.

Coral Biopsy

Scientists found that microbes and their genetic material from land-based sources of pollution could be found in reef water and in tissues of corals. This could affect the genomics of the native microbial communities found in coral reefs, which can impact how corals thrive and survive. These new insights highlight an additional potential threat to corals from land-based sources of pollution in southeast Florida, where corals are already under existential threat from warming oceans and resulting coral bleaching, disease and mortality.

An eAUV is deployed during April 2017 CalCOFI cruise. Image credit: NOAA

The California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) cruise sampling was completed on April 21st aboard NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada.

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) transports the upper warm water northward and the deep cold water southward in the Atlantic, and is a key component of the global energy balance. In many of the climate models that participate the Coupled Model Inter-comparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5), the amplitudes of the AMOC agree very well with or are even larger than the observed value of about 18 Sv at 26.5N; but they still show cold upper ocean temperature biases in the North Atlantic.

Proposed locations for the western and eastern PIES deployments in the subtropical South Pacific (stars). The magenta line shows the P06 cruise track along 32.5°S. Photo Credit: NOAA.

One of the most challenging questions in global climate change studies today is how quickly, or if, heat that accumulates within the Earth system penetrates into the deep ocean. Scientists with the University of Miami (UM), AOML, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) recently tackled this question by using a combination of present-day satellite and in situ observing systems to study the distribution of heat in the oceans. 

Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks

Coral scientists recently traveled to the Galapagos Islands to document coral reef health following the 2016-17 El Niño Southern Oscillation event (ENSO), which bathed the region in abnormally warm waters. Historically, these events have triggered coral bleaching and large-scale mortality, as seen in response to ENSO events of 1982-83 and 1997-98. Interestingly, these same reefs exhibited minimal bleaching in response to this most recent event. Scientists are determining whether this response is due to differing levels of heat stress, or an increased tolerance to warm water in the remnant coral communities.

Many scientists are needed to launch an ozonesonde. Image credit: NOAA

NOAA AOML scientists participated in the 2017 annual PIRATA Northeasten Extension (PNE) and Saharan Dust AERosols and Ocean Science Expeditions (AEROSE) cruise aboard the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown from February 19 to March 25.

Underwater Glider. Image credit: NOAA

Throughout the Atlantic hurricane season, this autonomous underwater vehicle dives to depths up to 1,000 meters and travels thousands of kilometers across the Caribbean Sea.

Child watches wave tank in action during take your child to work day. Photo Credit: NOAA AOML.

NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory hosted take your child to work day at the lab.

Underwater Glider. Image credit: NOAA

Glider SG609 is one of four gliders that are part of the Hurricane Field Program at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory. AOML launched its glider project in 2014 with the goal of enhancing the understanding of air-sea interaction processes during tropical cyclones. Scientists and technicians from AOML and the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagues run the deployments and recoveries out of Isla Magueyes Marine Laboratories in Puerto Rico, which neighbors the colorful coastal island community of La Paguera.

Temperature Sensor

Warm ocean water can be a killer for coral reefs, and AOML recently developed a new inexpensive sensor to drastically improve our ability to measure and monitor changing temperatures on reefs at an unprecedented scale.  The low cost sea temperature sensor, known as InSituSea, costs roughly $10 in parts to produce while providing high accuracy (0.05-0.1 C) in measurement. With a production cost that is 10% of an off-the-shelf temperature sensor, colleagues have expressed strong interest in deploying the InSituSea sea temperature sensor at coral reefs around the world.  

(a) Regression of SSH PC1 with surface wind stress (vector) and wind stress curl times Coriolis parameter (color) from altimetry data. (b) Same as in Figure 5a but for 20 Century Reanalysis. (c) Schematic diagram of the influence of the IPO on South Atlantic SSH and SAMOC variabilities. Heating anomaly in the atmosphere associated with the positive IPO generates Rossby wave source region extending from the tropical western Pacific toward South America (pink hatching). This generates a stationary wave pattern extending from the source region poleward around the southern tip of South America (labeled H and L for anticyclone and cyclone, respectively). This circulation produces anomalous westerlies in the South Atlantic between 30°S and 40°S, enhancing the northward Ekman transport, which in turn enhances the subtropical gyre circulation and northward SAMOC (dark green arrow). Image Credit: NOAA.

This study explores potential factors that may influence decadal variability of the South Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (SAMOC) by using observational data as well as surface-forced ocean model runs and a fully coupled climate model run. 

King Tide

Tidal flooding from events such as the so-called “King Tides” and “Super Tides” are flooding urban coastal communities with increasing frequency as sea levels rise. These tidal flood waters can acquire a wide range of contaminants and toxins as a result of soaking in the built environment of urbanized coastlines. A multi- institutional, interdisciplinary research team, including scientists from AOML, is examining the types of contamination picked up from the urbanized coastal landscape and transported into coastal waters through tidal flooding.

CHAMP coral monitoring station

Coral Health and Monitoring Program (CHAMP) researchers at AOML have worked cooperatively with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), headquartered in Belize, over the past several years to install Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) stations at key coral reef sites in countries throughout the Caribbean. CREWS stations monitor an array of atmospheric and oceanographic parameters to assess the health and integrity of coral reefs. The stations are part of the CCCCC’s efforts to strengthen the Caribbean region’s ability to respond to climate variability, extreme weather conditions, pollution, and habitat change.

Trajectories of synthetic drifters

In a paper published in the Journal of Operational Oceanography, a team of scientists with the Physical Oceanography Division at AOML, the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, the University of Miami, the University of Hawaii, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) of Australia analyzed possible pathways to link the location of the found debris in the southwestern Indian Ocean with potential crash sites, probably in the eastern Indian Ocean.

Coral Skeleton covered in reef organisms

The study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, measured changes in the reef framework in several naturally high-carbon dioxide settings near Papua New Guinea. For the first time, scientists found increased activity of worms and other organisms that bore into the reef structure, resulting in a net loss of the framework that is the foundation of coral reef ecosystems.

Side of the P3 decorations. Photo Credit: NOAA AOML.

NOAA’s Hurricane Hunters fly into hurricanes to help study important features and improve forecasts. The photos below highlight two different flights, on October 5 & 6, 2016, that were taken from flights into Hurricane Matthew as it moved through the Atlantic and up the East Coast of the United States. Hurricane Matthew eventually moved off the East Coast and would dissipate out in the Atlantic Ocean. 

Hurricane Matthew Radar

NOAA’s hurricane hunter aircraft carry a unique radar that measures wind in hurricanes where there is rain. Located in the tail of the aircraft and known as the Tail Doppler Radar, this instrument produces images that can provide detailed pictures scientists use to study storm structure and changes. Scientists can also piece together wind speed information gathered over the course of a flight to paint a complete picture of the wind speed in the regions of the storm where the aircraft flies.

Hurricane Hunters Leaving for Tampa

There aren’t many people who can say they have flown directly into a hurricane, but on October 5, 2016, I had a very unique opportunity to fly into Hurricane Matthew with NOAA’s Hurricane Hunters. Matthew was quickly moving across the Atlantic Ocean, and each new forecast moved it closer to the East Coast of Florida. With the high potential for hurricane watches and warnings, NOAA started preparations for routine flight operations.

With hurricane season in full swing, NOAA will host a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) about the Science of Hurricane Hunting to Improve Forecasts on September 22, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. Hurricane scientist Frank Marks, Sc.D., Director of the Hurricane Research Division at AOML, and P-3 hurricane hunter pilot Commander Justin Kibbey of the NOAA Corps will answer questions. The first half of hurricane season has produced a significant number of storms in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. This AMA is a great opportunity to answer questions about how and why we study these storms.

NOAA AOML will play host to a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) on September 22, 2016 from 1:00-3:00pm EST. Frank Marks, Sc.D., Director of the Hurricane Research Division at AOML, and P-3 hurricane hunter pilot Commander Justin Kibbey of the NOAA Corps will answer questions.

Sunrise from the flying lab, tropical storm Hermine. Photo Credit: NOAA AOML.

NOAA’s Hurricane Hunters regularly fly into developing systems that may threaten landfall or to study important features to improve forecasts.

NOAA Hurricane Hunters are flying back-to-back missions to study the newly developed Tropical Storm Hermine in the Gulf of Mexico, capturing its evolution from a cluster of thunderstorms into a tropical storm. Getting data during such transitions can help improve hurricane models which currently don’t predict transitions well. Our understanding of the physical processes of early storm development remains limited, largely because there are few observations. 

The Florida bay, with an average depth of 3 feet is home to many species, such as this small jellyfish. Photo Credit: NOAA AOML.

Photo Essay   Adjacent to Everglades National Park, Florida Bay encompasses the shallow waters, mangrove islands, and grassy banks between mainland Florida and the Keys; an area about 1,000 square miles in size. With an average depth of only 3 feet, the bay is home to a number of marine populations as well as a […]

Lights in Puerto Rico. Image credit: NOAA

On Thursday July 21st, PHOD began its fifth underwater glider mission in the Caribbean Sea. Two underwater gliders, SG609 and SG630, were successfully deployed off of Puerto Rico. The deployment was carried out by AOML researchers on board the R/V La Sultana with the help of personnel from the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez (UPRM). The refurbished gliders have sensors that measure temperature, salinity, oxygen, Chlorophyll-a, and turbidity. This deployment is the beginning of the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season deployment, with two more gliders scheduled for deployment in the tropical North Atlantic in August.

View from the Walton Smith on the water. Image credit: NOAA

From July 13th to 14th, AOML researchers conducted a hydrographic survey along 27N in the Florida Straits as part of the Western Boundary Time Series project aboard the R/V F.G. Walton Smith. The cruise conducts surveys to quantify Florida Current volume transport and water mass changes.

The 2016 Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratories’ (AOML) cadre of summer interns inspired us with a very promising group of motivated individuals. Fourteen students came from all over the country to complete a wide array of projects in different thematic areas of AOML’s workforce; Physical Oceanography, Ocean Chemistry and Ecosystems, Hurricane Research, Engineering, and Communications.AOML is home to some of the nation’s leading scientists, and internships offer a great opportunity for students to learn alongside these experts and develop skills that they will take with them in the future. The summer internships also expose students to careers at a federal research laboratory. NOAA offices are located all across the country, so students who enjoy their summer internship can consider NOAA or other federal science agencies for future employment when they enter the workforce.

scientist casting green net over still water from the keel of a boat in the Florida Bay for the Juvenile Sportfish Research Project.

With an average depth of only 3 feet, the Florida Bay is home to a number of marine populations, as well as a vital nursery ground for commercial and recreational reef fish species. The Florida Bay also plays host to a group of NOAA researchers who are investigating how habitat changes in Florida Bay are impacting juvenile sportfish populations, with a focus on the spotted seatrout.

The new research published online August 10 in Nature Climate Change provides a stark look into the future of ocean acidification – the absorption by the global oceans of increasing amounts of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions. Scientists predict that elevated carbon dioxide absorbed by the global oceans will drive similar ecosystem shifts, making it difficult for coral to build skeletons and easier for other plants and animals to erode them.

Corals live and thrive by maintaining a careful balance between their growth rate and the rate of erosion. Scientists already know the projected increases in carbon dioxide in our global oceans, known as ocean acidification, will slow the rate at which corals build the hard calcium carbonate skeletons that are the foundation of their habitat. A new study published online today in PLOS ONE demonstrates that in naturally highly acidified waters, these coral skeletons will also face increased erosion from microscopic organisms, called bioerosion. The result is accelerated breakdown and loss of reef structures, and potentially the loss of essential habitat.

Scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) are at the vanguard of hurricane research. Each hurricane season we fly into storms, pore over observations and models, and consider new technological developments to enhance NOAA’s observing capacity and improve track and intensity forecasts. The 2016 hurricane season will provide an opportunity for our scientists to test some of the most advanced and innovative technologies and refined forecasting tools to help better predict a storm’s future activity.

Underwater glider being recovered in the Caribbean Sea. Image Credit: NOAA

On Thursday June 2nd, PHOD concluded its fourth underwater glider mission in the Caribbean Sea. Along with their partners at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, the glider was recovered from the R/V La Sultana.

The Coyote UAS on the field at Marlins Park for CBS4's S.T.E.A.M. Day. Image credit: NOAA

On Tuesday, May 24th, AOML Associate Director and hurricane hunter pilot LCDR Justin Kibbey and AOML Communications staff participated in the S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) Day event at Marlins Park, hosted by local news station CBS4.

On May 13th, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy introduced the National Microbiome Initiative, an effort to support multi-agency research to help sample and better understand communities of microorganisms that are critical to both human health and the world’s ecosystems. As the nation’s premier ocean science agency, NOAA is leading interdisciplinary research to improve observation and assessment of marine microbiomes.  To support this national initiative, NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) received nearly $2 million in funding this year to conduct a number of projects that integrate genetic sampling techniques and technologies to help advance the understanding of the ocean’s microbiomes.

As a hurricane approaches landfall, citizens are hoping that they are adequately prepared for the potential damage from strong winds and rising oceans. NOAA’s job is to forecast the storm location and strength, or intensity, to help communities make the best informed decisions. For many scientists, predicting intensity is a challenge at the forefront of hurricane research, and in recent years advancements in observations and modeling have improved NOAA’s forecasts of intensity by 20%. We are now at the point where scientists can observe and predict with very fine detail what is happening in the inner core of the storm.

Photo Credit: NWS/ NCEP

A new study published in the journal Nature Microbiology highlights how emerging, devastating outbreaks of Vibrio infection in Latin America might be linked to El Niño, a climate pattern that periodically causes surface temperatures to warm throughout the equatorial Pacific Ocean. A researcher with the University of Miami’s Cooperative Institute of Marine & Atmospheric Studies at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Lab was part of an international research team that used microbiological, genomic, and bioinformatic tools to demonstrate how El Niño provides a mechanism for the transport of disease from Asia into the Americas. 

A team of NOAA oceanographers sets sail from Miami aboard the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster on May 7th to investigate ocean currents and fish larvae distribution in the southern Gulf of Mexico and western Caribbean. The joint cruise between NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) is a new chapter in a long-term effort that pools cross-line office resources to better understand the early life history and larval recruitment pathways of important fisheries in the region, including the ecologically important and commercially valuable Atlantic bluefin tuna.

Tornadoes are one of nature’s most destructive forces. Recent violent and widespread tornado outbreaks in the United States, such as occurred in the spring of 2011, have caused significant loss of life and property. Currently, our capacity to predict tornadoes and other severe weather risks does not extend beyond seven days. Extending severe weather outlooks beyond seven days will assist emergency managers, businesses, and the public prepare the resources needed to prevent economic losses and protect communities. So how can scientists better predict when and where tornadoes are likely to strike, before the tornado season begins?

Scientists working aboard the Nancy Foster research ship. Image credit: NOAA

Photos from the scientists and data from the NOAA Nancy Foster Cruise that sailed off in May. The Nancy Foster sailed out on a research survey to search for bluefin tuna larvae among other fishy creatures

In a recent paper published in the Journal of Climate, scientists with NOAA and the University of Miami have identified how variability in ocean circulation in the South Atlantic Ocean may influence global rainfall and climate patterns. The study by researchers at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) suggests that the South Atlantic is a potential predictor of global rainfall variability with a lead-time of approximately 20 years. This link between the South Atlantic Ocean and weather and climate could provide significant long-term insight for water management on a global scale.

During the months of March and April, AOML joined an international team of oceanographers to actively sample the Indian Ocean in support of the Global Ocean Ship-Based Hydrographic Investigation Program (GO-SHIP), an initiative to measure and investigate the ocean basins from coast to coast and from top to bottom. Aboard the R/V Roger Revelle, the team transected the Indian Ocean from the Antarctic northward into the Bay of Bengal, collecting seawater samples at 113 stations as part of a multi-decadal effort to measure various ocean properties, including temperature, salinity, nutrients, carbon and other gases.

Photos from the March- April 2016 GO-SHIP cruise transecting the Indian Ocean.

Trajectories of cyclonic (blue) and anticyclonic (red) looping drifter trajectories in the Atlantic Ocean. Image Credit: NOAA

In a recent study by Lumpkin (2016) looping trajectories of surface drifting buoys were extracted from the global drifter dataset and analyzed in order to examine the distribution of submesoscale to mesoscale vortices. Over 15,000 looping trajectory segments were identified worldwide.

The glider deployment team including AOML's Grant Rawson (second from right). Image credit: NOAA

The fourth underwater glider mission began in March with the deployment of two refurbished gliders in the Caribbean Sea off Puerto Rico. The deployment was carried out by AOML researchers on board the R/V La Sultana with the help of personnel from the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez (UPRM).

NOAA Deputy Administrator VADM Manson Brown took a tour of AOML and the Southeast Fisheries Science Center on March 15th to learn about current research and addressed staff during a town hall session. Image Credit: NOAA

VADM Brown took a tour of AOML and the Southeast Fisheries Science Center on March 15th to learn about current research and addressed staff during a town hall session.

When Barack Obama becomes the first president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge, his visit will highlight not only a new course in international relations, but showcase on-going scientific opportunities with the country only 90 miles off the Florida coast.

Scientists and engineers from NOAA have successfully designed, built, and tested a new antenna system that dramatically increases data transmission reliability while drastically reducing operating costs. The new Iridium-based transmission system, developed by NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) & the Cooperative Institute for Marine & Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS), has no restrictions on data format or size, allowing data from various ocean and land-based observation platforms to be transmitted more securely and at a fraction of the cost of the older Inmarsat-C platform.

Students from Miami's Booker T. Washington High School participate in STEM activities directed by researchers at NOAA's AOML for My Brother's Keeper National Labs Week. Image credit: NOAA

On Friday, March 4th, AOML hosted 35 students from Miami’s Booker T. Washington High School for the Obama Administration’s My Brother’s Keeper National Labs Week. This national event is designed to introduce students from communities that are not well represented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) careers to federal employees and lab facilities in the hopes of inspiring interest in these fields.

Healthy coral and reef fish along the dive site. Image credit: NOAA

From March 1st through March 3rd, AOML coral scientists traveled to reefs in the Upper and Lower Florida Keys to swap out instruments being used for an ongoing coral bleaching study. Both pH and light loggers were collected and deployed at inshore and offshore study sites.

El Niño Rapid Response project members, including AOML's Jason Dunion (back, middle) at the Global Hawk Operations Center at Edwards Air Force Base. Image credit: NOAA

AOML hurricane researcher Jason Dunion participated in NOAA’s El Niño Rapid Response Field Campaign, a comprehensive land, sea, and air sampling effort in the tropical Pacific, to study the current El Niño and improve weather forecasts thousands of miles away.

(left column) Seasonality of precipitation and 850mb winds for the monsoon regions as measured by the difference between June-July-August-September (JJAS) minus annual mean precipitation and winds. (middle-column) shows the composite difference of JJAS precipitation (shaded) and 850mb wind for each monsoon region with respect to weak minus strong SAMHT at lead-time 20 years after the anomalous SAMHT. Blue stipples indicates regions where precipitation differences are significant at 95% confidence level based on a non-parametric Kolmogorov-Smirnov test. (right-column) Lag-lead Spearman ranked correlation between SAMHT and NH monsoon index. The blue dashed lines depict the 95% significance level based on a non-parametric Kendall-t test. Negative lag indicates periods when SAMHT leads the NH monsoon index. Periods with significant correlation between the SAMHT and monsoon are shaded blue. Image Credit: NOAA AOML.

A recent paper published in the Journal of Climate led by PHOD researchers Hosmay Lopez, Shenfu Dong, Sang-Ki Lee, and Gustavo Goni provides a physical mechanism on how low frequency variability of the South Atlantic Meridional Heat Transport (SAMHT) associated with the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation ( AMOC) may influence decadal variability of atmospheric circulation and monsoons. This is the first attempt to link the South Atlantic Overturning Circulation variability to weather and climate.

Image taken off the stern of the UNOLS R/V Endeavor as the vessel is underway. Image credit: NOAA

AOML researchers completed a Western Boundary Times Series cruise in February aboard the UNOLS Ship R/V Endeavor. The AOML team was supported by additional crew from the University of Puerto Rico.

Students watch as their ocean drifters are tested for buoyancy and ability to hold a payload. Image credit: NOAA

On February 5, 2016, AOML was a proud participant in the annual ‘Take Your Child to Work Day’ tradition. This year’s theme focused on the global ocean observing system, a network of ocean buoys and drifters to which AOML contributes to, that collects vital data on the world’s oceans.

Interannual variations of the MOC (black) and contributions from the geostrophic (red) and Ekman (green) components at 20°S, 25°S, 30°S, and 34.5°S, respectively. The gray shading denotes the range where anomalies are not significantly different from zero. The red and green shading denote the periods of the dominance of the geostrophic and Ekman components on the MOC, respectively. Image Credit: NOAA.

The Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) plays a critical role in global and regional heat and freshwater budgets. Recent studies have suggested the possibility of a southern origin of the anomalous MOC and meridional heat transport (MHT) in the Atlantic, through changes in the transport of warm/salty waters from the Indian Ocean into the South Atlantic basin. This possibility clearly manifests the importance of understanding the South Atlantic MOC (SAMOC). Observations in the South Atlantic have been historically sparse both in space and time compared to the North Atlantic. To enhance our understanding of the MOC and MHT variability in the South Atlantic, a new methodology is recently published to estimate the MOC/MHT by combining sea surface height measurements from satellite altimetry and in situ measurements (Dong et al., 2015).

A team from NOAA and Raytheon successfully demonstrated recent advancements of the Coyote Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) while completing a mid-flight launch from the NOAA P-3 Hurricane Hunter aircraft on January 7th. The successful flight verified new technology designed to improve Coyote’s ability to collect vital weather data to improve hurricane forecasts.

Researchers with the Global Carbon Budget released their annual update for the global carbon budget in December 2015, revealing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels increased slightly in 2014 (+0.6%), but are projected to decline slightly (by est. -0.6%) in 2015. The global oceans serve as a natural buffer, offsetting increased emissions by absorbing an estimated 27% of human-produced CO2 from the atmosphere in 2014. Data collected, in part, from long-term surface ocean CO2 monitoring efforts, funded by NOAA’s Climate Program Office and the Ocean Acidification Program, indicate that the oceans removed about 10.7 billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere in 2015.

An image of the successfully retrieved glider, including puncture marks from an encounter with a shark. Image credit: NOAA

On November 16th-18th, AOML physical oceanographers partnered with the University of Puerto Rico to successfully recover two underwater gliders from the Caribbean Sea aboard the M/V La Sultana of the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez. Over the course of the summer, the gliders successfully transected a region in the eastern Caribbean providing approximately 3000 profile observations of temperature, salinity, oxygen, and surface as well as depth-average current velocities.

AOML scientists work with members of the ships' crew to recover the CTD rosette at the end of a 3 hour hydrographic cast. Image credit: NOAA

AOML oceanographers are participating in a joint research cruise to study the Meridional Overturning Circulation onboard the R/V Endeavor during October 3-20. The team will sail from Fort Lauderdale, FL to collect roughly 55 full-depth conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) profiles in the Florida Current and the Deep Western Boundary Current east of the Bahamas. The scientists will also work with their partners from the University of Miami to recover, redeploy, and maintain three tall moorings and nine smaller moored instruments during this cruise in support of the NOAA Western Boundary Time Series project and its partner National Science Foundation project.

Figure 3 Glider approximate location (black diamond) superimposed on Infrared image of Hurricane Gonzalo on October 14, 1500 UTC, when it travelled the closest to the location of the underwater glider. Credit: image obtained from the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies.

Hurricanes are known to drive the cooling of surface waters as they travel over the ocean, leaving a cooling swath where they pass. The sea surface cooling is mostly caused by mixing forced by the strong winds of the hurricane, which occurs as the mixture of warm surface waters with colder waters that can be as deep as 100 m below the surface.

Collecting Data at Cheeca Rocks

AOML coral researchers conducted a number of reef monitoring activities during the month of October at Cheeca Rocks off of Islamorada, Florida. Among the activities was the installation of new sensors to measure pH and photosynthetic light levels at the on-site MapCO2 buoy. The team also conducted benthic surveys and deployed a pH sensor at an inshore patch reef where they are conducting an experiment to examine the impacts of bleaching across Florida Keys reefs. They were also joined by a colleague from the University of Miami who conducted photo mosaic surveys of the reefs. A photo mosaic is a tool used by researchers to map reefscapes and involves the stitching together of hundreds of photos taken simultaneously across the reef to form one giant image. Photo mosaics provide coral researchers with an important tool to more accurately document community-wide changes in reef health.