What's New Archive
Over the next four months, NOAA scientists will launch unmanned ocean vehicles, called Saildrones, from the Arctic to the tropical Pacific Ocean to help better understand how changes in the ocean are affecting weather, climate, fisheries and marine mammals. The wind and solar-powered research vehicles that resemble a sailboat will travel thousands of miles across the ocean, reaching some areas never before surveyed with such specialized technology.
Earlier this week, PMEL scientists and Saildrone, Inc. sent off three saildrones from Dutch Harbor, Alaska. For the first time, two saildrones will sail north through the Bering Strait into the Arctic Ocean to study how the Arctic Ocean is absorbing carbon dioxide. A third unmanned vehicle will survey more than 3,100 nautical miles in the Bering Sea for walleye pollock, Northern fur seals that prey on them and the elusive North Pacific right whale. This work will build on research conducted during 2016, including a study of fur seal feeding rates. NOAA Fisheries Alaska Fisheries Science Center scientists will also attach video cameras to fur seals to record feeding and verify the species and sizes of fish that fur seals are eating.
In September, scientists will launch two more unmanned systems from Alameda, Calif., on a six-month, 8,000-nautical-mile, round-trip mission to the equator to improve the Tropical Pacific Observing System (TPOS). TPOS provides real-time data used by the U.S. and partner nations to forecast weather and climate, including El Nino. The unmanned sailing vehicles will take part in a larger field study with NASA, and visit mooring sites along the array of observing buoys.
Read the release on NOAA Research here and follow along with the Innovative Technology for Arctic Exploration's Blog for the Bering and Chukchi Seas missions.
May 16-June 2: The second summer field season for the Arctic Heat Open Science Experiment began with its first flight out of Kotzebue, Alaska. The research team, including Kevin Wood, are flying aboard a specially-outfitted NOAA Twin Otter aircraft to launch traditional atmospheric and oceanographic probes as well as the experimental Air-Launched Autonomous Micro-Observer (ALAMO) floats into the Chukchi Sea. After last year's field missions, two ALAMO floats made it through the winter and are currently profiling every 5 days. Check out the raw data for float 9085 and float 9076.
Arctic Heat is an open science experiment, publishing data generated by the project to further NOAA Science Missions with real-time data to facilitate timely observations for use in weather and sea-ice forecasts, to make data readily accessible for model and reanalysis assimilation, and to support ongoing research activities across disciplines.
Arctic Heat is a joint effort of NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) Arctic Research, the Innovative Technology for Arctic Exploration (ITAE) program, the ALAMO development group at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), and the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO) at the University of Washington.
Last week, PMEL scientists attended the American Meteorological Society (AMS)’s Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA and the Alaska Marine Science Symposium (AMSS) in Anchorage, AK. Presentations covered research in the Bering Sea, data management and access, El Nino, sea ice, the Earth's energy imbalance, innovative technologies, and recent warming in the Pacific and others.
At AMSS, the Ecosystems and Fisheries-Oceanography Coordinated Investigations (EcoFOCI) group had multiple presentations and posters on the Bering Sea including topics on the recent marine heat wave in Alaska, linking annual oceanographic processes to contiguous ecological domains in the pacific Arctic, fish distributions, ecology, Saildrone and oceanography.
A wider range of topics were covered at AMS and included invited talks from Nick Bond, Chidong Zhang and Kevin Wood. Dr. Zhang spoke about the Dynamics of the Madden-Julian Oscillation; Kevin Wood presented the Old Weather Project using historical U.S. ship logbooks to collect and analyze historical climate data; and Nick Bond discussed the recent warming in the NE Pacific. The annual meeting is the world’s largest yearly gathering for the weather, water, and climate community and brings together atmospheric scientists, professionals, students, educators and research’s from around the world. AMS is the nation’s premier scientific and professional organization promoting and disseminating information about the atmospheric, oceanic, hydrologic sciences.
Learn more about all our different research themes and groups here.
On September 3, after three months of collecting data in the Bering Sea, the two Saildrones have been safely recovered. The Saildrones each traveled almost 3000 nautical miles in 101 days. After arriving in Dutch Harbor, AK, the Saildrones were packed into a container and shipped to their home base in San Francisco, CA. Data from the tested technologies for fish and marine mammal acoustics are expected mid-September with preliminary analysis completed around the New Year.
This was a collaborative mission between the Pacific Marine Environmental Lab, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Saildrone, Inc., Simrad AS/Kongsberg Maritime, Greeneridge Sciences, Inc, and Wildlife Computers.
Continue to follow the Saildrone on the Innovative Technology for Arctic Exploration page to learn more about upcoming events and preliminary results in the weeks and months to come.
In April, PMEL and JISAO scientists and engineers teamed up with Saildrone, Inc. to test two Saildrones in the harsh environment of the Bering Sea for the first time. The unmanned instruments sailed from Dutch Harbor, AK on April 22. They have traveled over 2,000 miles each since then, taking over 40 million measurements as they sail north following the ice retreat. With the Arctic environment changing rapidly, the success of these vehicles couldn’t come at a better time. The measurements taken across the eastern Bering Sea have the potential to provide a comprehensive picture of the changes that occur in the late spring environment when the ice is retreating.
PMEL’s Earth-Ocean Interactions program led by Oregon State University Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies scientist, Dr. Bill Chadwick, has just launched a new blog aimed at analyzing and forecasting when the next eruption at Axial Seamount might occur. Axial Seamount is the most active submarine volcano in the NE Pacific. Located on the Juan de Fuca Ridge off the coast of Oregon, it was chosen as the site of the world's first underwater volcano observatory called NeMO and is now a node on the new Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) cabled observatory. Axial erupted most recently in 1998 and 2011.
Scientists from PMEL, Oregon State University, and University of North Carolina at Wilmington will be monitoring Axial closely. Watch the blog for forecast updates.
Led by Dr. Jeremy Mathis, PMEL teamed up with the University of Alaska and the Alaska Ocean Observing System this summer and early fall to use new unmanned tools to study how melting glaciers in Alaska’s Prince William Sound may be intensifying ocean acidification in the sound and on the Gulf of Alaska continental shelf. PMEL engineers outfitted two Carbon Wave Gliders and one underwater Slocum glider with sensors to help better understand the unique processes of glacial melt water and how they change the chemistry of the water column in Prince William Sound.
To read more about this project please visit the NOAA Research News website.
Scientists and engineers from PMEL's Vents Program successfully flew an ocean glider for exploring for underwater volcanic plumes and eruptions in the South Pacific on May 8. Over the two day mission, the glider travelled about 50km and was "flown" by engineers located 5000 miles away in Washington and Oregon.
You can read more about this glider mission, including an update on the active underwater volcano, West Mata, on the Lau Eruptions blog.
PMEL scientists, Dr. Tim Bates and Dr. Patricia Quinn, will lead the US component of the Coordinated Investigation of Climate-Cryosphere Interactions (CICCI) project based out of Svalbard, Norway during the month of April. PMEL will fly two Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) equipped with sensors to measure aerosol properties to help understand the processes controlling the distribution of black carbon in the Arctic atmosphere.
Scientists and engineers at PMEL recently returned from an expedition in the Arctic where they launched two small, new, remotely-operated, unmanned aircraft to measure black soot. The soot is produced by burning diesel fuel, agricultural fires, forest fires, and wood-burning stoves, and is transported by winds to the Arctic, where it darkens the surface of snow and ice, enhancing melting and solar warming.