What's New Archive
Path of Tropical Storm Lionrock, as it passed the NOAA KEO mooring, and makes it way toward Japan. Storm track image from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
As residents in Japan prepare for Tropical Storm Lionrock today, scientists at NOAA and the University of Washington’s Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO) study the behavior of the storm. Lionrock is expected to make landfall across northern Japan, affecting many highly populated areas, including Fukushima and other areas impacted by the 2011 tsunami.
With funding awarded for research after Super Storm Sandy caused massive damage to the east coast of the US, NOAA and JISAO scientists aim to improve storm track models to better predict where storms will go, and how powerful they might become. To achieve this, they are using data from the NOAA Kuroshio Extension Observatory (KEO), along with model simulations performed at NOAA’s Environmental Modeling Center.
KEO is a moored buoy, located off the coast of Japan, where it is frequently in the path of storms and tropical cyclones. When Lionrock passed over KEO on Monday, wind gusts were recorded at over 81mph, and storm-induced currents approached 3 knots, some of the highest ever recorded at the site. These data, along with other measurements of the ocean state, both before and after the passage of the storm, will be valuable tools in assessing, and ultimately improving, storm prediction models.
By: Jennifer Keene
Two valuable partnerships have allowed successful servicing of the NOAA Ocean Station Papa mooring this year.
The June 2016 deployment of the NOAA Papa mooring in the Gulf of Alaska was accomplished aboard the CCGS John P. Tully, in partnership with Canada’s Institute of Ocean Sciences, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Line P Program. These long time project partners have been providing ship time and assistance servicing the NOAA Papa mooring since it was first deployed in 2007. This year, for the first time in nine years, conditions prevented the recovery of the NOAA mooring that had been deployed in 2015.
That mooring was instead recovered aboard the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown, which was working in the same area for Ocean Observing Initiative (OOI) operations, just weeks after the Tully cruise. Though the work schedule was shortened due to unforeseen issues, the ship was still able to accomplish all of their planned work, as well as the recovery of the NOAA Papa mooring.
Thanks to the captain and crew of the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown, members of the WHOI mooring group, and Oregon State University OOI technicians, who made the recovery operations a success. Grateful thanks also go to the chief scientist of the cruise, Dr. Ed Dever, who coordinated with NOAA and the NSF cruise sponsor to make this recovery possible. Continued thanks to the Line P Program for their ongoing support of NOAA mooring operations.
By: Jennifer Keene
Members of the PMEL Ocean Climate Stations Project (OCS) and the PMEL Carbon Program recently published two companion papers describing ocean processes in the North Pacific that play a role in the Earth’s climate system.
OCS Principal Investigator Dr. Meghan Cronin and her co-authors examined the exchanges of heat and salt affecting the mixed water layer of the upper ocean, since exchanges of heat and freshwater between the ocean and the atmosphere can have an effect on weather and climate. Using data from the OCS KEO and Papa moorings, satellites, Argo floats, and a glider, the authors calculated and closed the heat budget for the mixed layer at both KEO and Station Papa, and also closed the salt budget at Papa. The good agreement between the diffusive coefficients from the heat and salt budgets suggested that this coefficient could be used to help close the mixed layer budgets of other ocean properties.
Building on these results, PMEL Carbon Program scientist Dr. Andrea Fassbender and her co-authors used this coefficient to close the carbon budget at Station Papa. The authors analyzed seven years of carbon observations from the OCS Papa mooring, along with data from research vessels, satellites, and a glider. From this, they were able to study seasonal carbon exchanges, and evaluate the amount of carbon going into the deep sea. This study provided new insights about the carbon cycle and climate responses in this region.
The PMEL OCS and Carbon groups have worked together for over a decade, deploying moorings and instrumentation in the North Pacific. Both the partnership and the mooring measurements have advanced understanding of the roles of ocean processes in the Earth’s climate system.
By: Jennifer Keene
Read the papers:
Cronin, M. F., N. A. Pelland, S. R. Emerson, and W. R. Crawford (2015), Estimating diffusivity from the mixed layer heat and salt balances in the North Pacific, J. Geophys. Res. Oceans, 120, 7346-7362, doi:10.1002/2015JC011010
Fassbender, A.J., C. L. Sabine, and M. F. Cronin (2016), Net community production and calcification from seven years of NOAA Station Papa Mooring measurements, Global Biogeochem. Cycles, doi:10.1002/2015GB005205
EOS Research Spotlight: https://eos.org/research-spotlights/moored-ocean-buoy-tracks-marine-carbon-cycle-variations
Personnel from NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Lab participated in a research cruise aboard the Canadian Coast Guard Ship JOHN P. TULLY, and recorded some great videos of mooring operations. Watch the two short videos at the end of this article, to see the deployment of one climate mooring, and the recovery of the buoy that had been in the water for a year. Get a first hand look at a day in the life of a NOAA buoy technician!
On this trip, the ship sailed out of Sidney, B.C. on June 7, 2015, and returned to port on June 22nd. As part of the science mission, the crew performed water sampling and net tows to study ocean physics, chemistry, and zooplankton. Ten NOAA drifter floats, used to study ocean currents, were also deployed. While the ship was still offshore, an important algal bloom was detected along the coast of North America. Ship's personnel were able to collect additional water samples in coastal waters, to verify the extent of the bloom in Canadian waters.
The ship spent several days at a site in the Gulf of Alaska, called Ocean Station Papa. Beginning in December 1949, Ocean Station Papa (50°N, 145°W) was occupied by a Weather Ship operated through the U.S. Coast Guard by the U.S. Weather Bureau. The site was taken over by a Canadian Weather Ship in December 1950, and several years later oceanographic measurements began to be routinely made. Though no longer under continuous observations by Weather Ships, the Canadian Institute of Ocean Sciences has been making trips to the site three to six times per year since 1981.
In 2007, the OCS program deployed their first surface mooring at Ocean Station Papa, which now uses satellite technologies to transmit weather and climate data to shore. This mooring took on the role of those old Weather Ships, and the climate record from Ocean Station Papa is one of the oldest on record. Watch videos showing how these moorings are deployed and recovered.
By: Jennifer Keene
The tropical cyclone Fengshen, named for the god of wind in Mandarin Chinese, passed over the NOAA mooring at the Kuroshio Extension Observatory (KEO) on September 8-9, 2014 GMT. The KEO mooring is located off the coast of Japan, where tropical cyclones and typhoons pass regularly during the autumn storm season. KEO has been specially adapted to be a "storm mooring," built to withstand extreme conditions, and also send data back to shore once per hour to allow scientists to monitor events in near real-time.
The buoy functioned exactly as planned throughout the storm, and a complete data record was captured. Barometric pressure dropped to a low of 971.5 hPa during the storm, and wind gusts reached 37 m/s (83 mph). The sea surface temperature dipped drastically from around 28°C to almost 25°C in just a few hours due to enhanced mixing of surface waters with cooler waters below.
With access to typhoon data in near real-time, scientists are able to verify and improve the accuracy of forecasts and storm prediction models. Researchers from NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Lab (PMEL), who deployed the KEO mooring, are working with partners at the NOAA's Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) to do just that. Model improvements can also be applied to hurricane forecasts for storms that might impact the east coast of the U.S.
The PMEL KEO mooring is part of a global network of time series reference stations. It carries a suite of sensors to monitor the ocean-atmosphere exchanges of heat, moisture, momentum and CO2, ocean acidification, and the upper ocean physical state. Deep ocean temperature and salinity are also measured by an instrument just above the sea floor.
By: Jennifer Keene
NASA Sees Tropical Storm Fengshen Looking More Like a Frontal System NASA web page
What Happens Underwater During a Hurricane? University of Miami, Rosensteil School of Marine & Atmospheric Science web page
Researchers at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) and the University of Washington Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Oceans (JISAO) are watching with great interest as an area of warm surface water persists in the North Pacific.
During the fall and early winter of 2013 – 2014, residents of the Pacific Northwest enjoyed more dry weather than normal, with fewer and weaker storms. The weaker than usual winds resulted in reduced heat transfer between the air and ocean, less mixing of cold water from below, and reduced transport of warm water toward the equator. This left a large mass of warm water in the Northeast Pacific, nicknamed "The Blob." At its core, the water mass was ~3°C above normal temperatures in February 2014, and it is still prominent going into the summer months.
The PMEL Ocean Climate Stations (OCS) project Station Papa buoy ismoored in the heart of the blob, making continuous measurements of the atmosphere and ocean at this site since 2007. The Office of the Washington State Climatologist and other OCS scientists will use data from the mooring to evaluate the ocean processes related to the causes and effects of this warmer than usual water mass. PMEL researchers are also onboard a Canadian research vessel that will be servicing the mooring and taking measurements along "Line P" June 8 – 24, 2014.
According to climate models, the region of warm surface water may continue to be well above normal temperatures through late summer 2014. This could affect regional weather, as well as marine ecosystems. The weather could be warmer and more humid than normal, and more thunderstorms may develop. In the marine ecosystem, the warmer water provides more favorable habitat for tuna near the coast, but may adversely affect juvenile salmon through reduced supply of nourishing food sources.
By: Jennifer Keene
Typhoon Pabuk, a category 1 tropical cyclone, passed 80 km to the west of NOAA's Kuroshio Extension Observatory (KEO) mooring on 26 September 2013. This was followed by Typhoon Wipha on 15 October 2013, and Francisco on 26 October 2013.
The measurements collected during Typhoon Pabuk will constitute one of the most comprehensive data sets of ocean conditions on the eastern side of a tropical cyclone. In particular this data set will provide the opportunities for comparisons with the conditions observed by KEO during the passage of Typhoon Choi-Wan on 19 September 2009. During that storm, KEO was ~ 40 km to the west of the eye. Both Choi-Wan and Pabuk were beginning to transition to extratropical storms as they passed KEO, much as Hurricane Sandy was when it made landfall.
The other two storms passed farther to the north of the KEO mooring. Interesting and meaningful data were acquired from the outer edges of these storms. Analysis of air-sea interactions at KEO during the passage of typhoons will contribute to better understanding and prediction of tropical cyclones worldwide.
The PMEL KEO mooring is part of a global network of time series reference stations. It carries a suite of sensors to monitor the ocean-atmosphere exchanges of heat, moisture, momentum and CO2, ocean acidification, and the upper ocean physical state. Because of the strong currents, relatively frequent tropical cyclones (typhoons), and powerful winter storms, KEO is designed for rugged conditions.
By: Jennifer Keene
The ocean is starting to get crowded around Ocean Station Papa, and PMEL's Ocean Climate Stations (OCS) project gains yet another science partner.
Climate studies have been conducted almost continuously at Ocean Station Papa (50°N, 145°W) since 1949, and OCS has had a surface mooring deployed at this site since June 2007. The OCS mooring is now the primary climate observing platform at the site, and includes a full suite of meteorological sensors, as well as subsurface instruments to 300m. The OCS mooring carries a system to measure CO2 flux, through a partnership with PMEL's Carbon Program. Additional instruments on the bridle used for oxygen measurements are supplied by partners at the University of Washington. A deep temperature/conductivity/pressure sensor has been deployed just above the anchor in recent years, through a partnership with the OceanSITES project. Water sampling and CTD casts at the mooring site and enroute from the Canadian coast, plus ship time for servicing the moorings, are provided through a partnership with Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans Line P program. Since 2010, wave height, periodicity, and direction have been measured by a nearby WaveRider mooring maintained by partners at the UW Applied Physics Laboratory.
The newest partner to join the outstanding research being done at Ocean Station Papa is the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI). In July 2013, OOI deployed two additional flanking moorings, a nearby profiling mooring, and three gliders at the site. The deployment at Station Papa is the first of several planned global nodes for the OOI project. Uniquely at this site, the OCS mooring will serve as the central mooring of the OOI array, providing all meteorological data and additional subsurface measurements.
By: Jennifer Keene
The American Geophysical Union (AGU) Chapman Conference on "The Agulhas System and its Role in Changing Ocean Circulation, Climate, and Marine Ecosystem," was held in Stellenbosch, South Africa, October 8-12, 2012. Chapman conferences are small meetings, designed to allow participants to reach detailed levels of discussion about specialized subjects.
The Agulhas System conference brought together scientists from around the world. The goals were to identify the most pressing questions and design modeling experiments that would allow researchers to learn more about the role of the Agulhas system in climate from regional to global scales.
While attending the conference, PMEL's Dr. Meghan Cronin visited Sophumelela High School in the township of Phillipi in South Africa recently. Her experience is described below:
Through efforts of Juliet Hermes and Thomas Mtontsi of SAEON, Dr. Meghan Cronin (NOAA) and Prof. Lisa Beal (U. Miami) were able to visit Mr. Ndemane's science classes (~ 60 learners) at Sophumelela High School in the township of Phillipi on the Cape Flats outside of Cape Town. Meghan Cronin's 13-year-old daughter, Fiona McCully, also went into a classroom for peer-to-peer discussions.
A small group of Mr. Ndemane's class have been involved in SAEON's Learner program, and the full class was involved in the NOAA Adopt A Drifter program (ADP). As part of the NOAA ADP, 3 pairs of drifters were deployed in the Agulhas Current. During the presentation, Cronin and Beal introduced ocean currents to the Learners and their impact on sea surface temperature (SST) and climate. After showing a movie of the Agulhas system's SST produced from a numerical model at NOAA GFDL, the learners were asked which ocean the drifters would end up in and whether and when the drifter pairs would separate. Results of the experiment were then presented: 5 of the 6 drifters ended up in the S. Indian Ocean.
In one pair, one drifter ended up in the S. Atlantic Ocean and one ended up in the S. Indian Ocean.
Data from these drifters contribute to the NOAA Global Drifter Program (GDP), a component of the Global Ocean Observing System, and can be viewed from both the GDP webpage and the NOAA ADP webpage .
Cronin presented a poster on the NOAA ADP at the Chapman Conference, which included co-authors from NOAA, SAEON, South Africa Weather Service, ASCLME, and Globe Africa. A University of Cape Town student will be lead author on a scientific manuscript describing this drifter experiment. The Sophumelela High School learners were clearly engaged by the visit. At the end, one learner stood up and thanked Cronin and Beal for encouraging them to be scientists and believing that it was possible. Another learner from the SAEON program came up afterwards to ask for advice on a science fair project on climate change. In turn, as a thank you for being invited into the classes, Cronin gave a personal gift of DK Reference World Atlases to the classes and to Mr. Mtontsi, and Beal gave a personal gift of blow up Earth globes with currents marked on the oceans.
An innovative partnership between NOAA and the US Navy brings research scientists one step closer to understanding the intricate relationship between the atmosphere and ocean that will help lead to improved predictability of weather, global climate, and changes in the ocean environment. On Nov 14th, scientists from NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL), onboard the US Navy's Military Sealift Command ship USNS SAFEGUARD deployed an upgraded Ocean Climate Station Mooring on the southern edge of the Kuroshio Extension Current, 340 miles SE of Tokyo, Japan. The crew of the USNS SAFEGUARD successfully and safely deployed the 9 ft diameter surface buoy, which weighs 2900 lbs, and the 5 miles of wire and nylon line used to anchor the mooring in 18,700 feet of water.
The KEO mooring carries meteorological and physical sensors to monitor winds, air temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, near-surface currents, and ocean temperatures and salinity to a depth of 1720 feet. This heavily instrumented surface mooring was designed, built, and deployed by NOAA's PMEL to add to the global network of OceanSITES time series reference sites.
The ship time needed to safely service this mooring, and to recover the prior mooring with its load of expensive sensors and irreplaceable data, was made available through a joint partnership between NOAA and the United States Navy's Military Sealift Command. USNS SAFEGUARD (T-ARS-50), a 255-foot salvage vessel assigned to the Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force stationed with the US Navy's 7th Fleet out of Yokosuka, Japan, is a U.S. ship already stationed in the area, thus reducing the overall expense of maintaining this ocean observatory.
NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. KEO is funded by the NOAA's Climate Program Office