AOML is collaborating with French scientists aboard research vessel Atalante to deploy 10 surface drifting buoys, each equipped with additional near-surface temperature, salinity, atmospheric pressure, and wind sensors. The deployments are taking place in the northwestern tropical Atlantic as part of a large multinational project, which includes the Atlantic Tradewind Ocean-Atmosphere Mesoscale Interaction Campaign, 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.
Most of the drifters are being deployed into regions of fresh water that lie northwest of the mouth of the Amazon River. As the drifters float northward with this layer of fresh water, they will provide information on sea-surface temperature and salinity, including the time it takes these “fresh lenses” to erode. This specially equipped buoys will also measure how the low-salinity water alters upper-ocean temperature and interacts with near-surface winds. Data from the drifters are being combined with measurements from other research vessels and autonomous floats and gliders to gain a broader understanding of ocean-atmosphere interactions.
These drifter deployments are led by AOML with support by NOAA’s Climate Program Office.