After more than a year postponed by the pandemic, a NASA field mission to study the role of small eddies and ocean currents in climate change will lift off and enter the sea in May 2021.
Using scientific instruments and multiple aircraft on a self-propelled ocean glider, the first deployment of the Sub-Mesocale Ocean Dynamics Experiment (SMODE) mission will deploy its suite of instruments in the water and in the air to ensure they work together to show the surface of the ocean. under? Large-scale field activities will begin in October 2021, with the aircraft located at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. Tom Farrar, Associate Scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution,
, Massachusetts, said: “This May event was primarily to compare different methods of measuring ocean surface currents so that we can be confident and confident in these measurements when we pilot in October SMODE Principal Investigator.
The SMODE team hopes to learn more about small-scale movements of seawater, such as eddies. These vortices extend for about 6.2 miles or 10 kilometers, slowly moving the sea in a swirling pattern. Scientists believe that these eddies play an important role in transferring heat from the surface to the ocean layer below, and vice versa. Additionally, vortices can play a role in the exchange of heat, gas, and nutrients between the ocean and Earth’s atmosphere. Understanding these small-scale eddies will help scientists better understand how Earth’s oceans slow global climate change.
Sub-mesoscale ocean dynamics, such as eddies and small ocean currents, are responsible for the eddy pattern of phytoplankton blooms (shown in green and light blue) in the South Atlantic on January 5, 2021.
sub-mesoscale ocean dynamics, such as eddies and small ocean currents, are responsible for the eddy pattern of phytoplankton blooms (shown in green and light blue) in the South Atlantic on January 5, 2021.
points: NASA Center Ocean Color Goddard space flight, using data from the NOAA20 satellite and NASANOAA Suomi NPP joint satellite.
Self-powered surfboard, for scientific use!
The team is using a commercial self-propelled wave glider equipped with scientific instruments that can study the ocean from the surface of the ocean. The most important device on board is the Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler, which uses sonar to measure the speed of water and collect information about the speed and direction of ocean currents and eddy currents. The glider also carries instruments that measure wind speed, air temperature and humidity, water temperature and salinity, and light and infrared radiation from the sun.
“The wave glider looks like a surfboard with a big shutter underneath,” said Farrar. The
“blind” plunged underwater and moved up and down with the waves, pushing the glider forward at a speed of approximately one mile per hour. In this way, the wave glider will be deployed from La Jolla, California, and collect data as it travels more than 62 miles (100 kilometers) to the coast of Santa Catalina Island. Equipped with solar panels and various scientific instruments, the
wave glider will propel itself from Santa Catalina Island out to sea.
Laurent Grare of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography prepares to retrieve the Wave Glider during pre-deployment testing. A wave glider equipped with solar panels and a variety of scientific instruments will propel itself from Santa Catalina Island to more distant seas.
Credit: Courtesy of Benjamin Greenwood / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
New data will allow scientists to estimate the exchange of heat and gas between the Earth’s atmosphere and the oceans to better understand global climate change.
“We know the atmosphere is warming. We know the wind is picking up. But we really don’t understand where all this energy is going,” said Ernesto Rodríguez, a researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and associate principal investigator of SMODE airborne components. This energy is likely to go. Enter the ocean, but the details of how the process works are still unknown. The team believes that small-scale eddies can help transfer heat from the atmosphere to the deeper layers of the ocean.
Eyes in the sky and scientific instruments
As the wave glider continues to travel slowly On the surface of the ocean, several airplanes will fly overhead and collect data from different locations.
“On airplanes, we can obtain snapshots of large areas to understand the background of how larger and smaller ocean movements interact,” Rodriguez said.
For example, a ship or a wave glider travels slowly in a straight line and accurately measures the sea surface temperature at a specific time and place. The aircraft moves faster, can cover more ground, and can measure the sea surface temperature of large oceans very quickly.
“It’s like taking infrared images instead of using a thermometer,” Farrar explained.
At NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, a crew member is preparing for the B200 King Air Subscale Ocean Dynamics Experiment (SMODE). From left to right are Jeroen Molemaker and Scott “Jelly” Howe.
At NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, a crew member is preparing for the B200 King Air Subscale Ocean Dynamics Experiment (SMODE). From left to right are Jeroen Molemaker and Scott “Jelly” Howe.
Image credit: Lauren Hughes, NASA Armstrong
Two aircraft will be used for test flights in May: a B200 aircraft from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Center in Edwards, California, and a Twin Otter International airliner. The B200 carries a NASA JPL instrument called DopplerScatt, which can use radar to measure ocean currents and wind near the sea. UCLA’s Multi-Scale Ocean Surface Observation System (MOSES) instrument also collects sea surface temperature data on board. On the Twin Otter aircraft is the Scripps Research Institute’s Modular Aviation Detection System (MASS).

 

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