National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


Saildrone is first to circumnavigate Antarctica, in search for carbon dioxide


It was an audacious idea: To send an unmanned saildrone on a 13,670-mile journey around Antarctica alone, at the mercy of the most hostile seas on the planet. In winter.  

“The assumption was the Southern Ocean would eat the saildrone … and that would be that,” said NOAA oceanographer Adrienne Sutton. “But we were willing to try, given the large role the ocean plays in the trajectory of climate change. Getting the Southern Ocean's carbon balance right is urgently important."

Saildrone 1020 completes the 22,000 kilometer mission to circumnavigate Antarctica in 196 days.

Saildrone 1020 survived freezing temperatures, 15-meter waves, 130 km/h winds, and collisions with giant icebergs to complete the 22,000-kilometer mission in 196 days. Photo Credit: Saildrone, Inc

Animation of sea-air CO2 as the saildrone circumnavigated Antarctica.

Click on image to see animation of the sea-air CO2 from the 2019 Antarctica circumnavigation.


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