Research Highlight: Navy Deploys Scripps Global Drifter Buoys


Sailors from the office of Naval Meteorology and Oceanography released ten global drifter buoys belonging to Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego from the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), May 28, during Pacific Partnership 2013.

The drifters measure ocean currents at a depth of 15 meters (49 feet) in depth, sea surface temperatures and atmospheric pressure. All are important elements in creating an observation network, allowing for more accurate current and weather forecasts.

“The mission of Pacific Partnership is disaster relief preparedness,” said Lt.j.g. Jeffrey S. Grabon, Pacific Partnership Mobile Environment Team division officer. “Most of the disasters that are going on in this region are from typhoons and tsunamis, so if we have observations that we can use to help forecast typhoons, that benefits the area.”

The buoys were deployed at specific coordinates while USS Pearl Harbor transited the Pacific Ocean to Samoa, the first mission port of Pacific Partnership.

Both Scripps and the Navy seek to benefit from the drifter drop and subsequent data to be collected.

The Global Drifter Program is funded by NOAA and provides publicly accessible real-time data in support of both civilian and Department of Defense activities. A significant number of additional drifters are also supported every year by the Office of Naval Research for regional ocean circulation studies. That drifter data are used to improve forecasts, which can benefit the effectiveness of activities like search and rescue missions and disaster response operations.

“I think it is absolutely crucial we have the ability to engage with the U.S. Navy and work in a synergistic way to collect useful data and create deployment opportunities in regions that are hard to access with commercial and scientific vessels,” said Scripps oceanographer Luca Centurioni. “We really welcome the opportunity to work together with the U.S. Navy 3rd Fleet. ”

Grabon said that much of the ongoing research has the potential to impact the Navy.

“Because the Navy is a sea-going, war-fighting force, the better the universities understand the ocean, the better the Navy will understand it,” said Grabon.

Pacific Partnership is about bringing people together. The collaboration of the University of California, San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the United States Navy demonstrates a cooperative approach to both disaster preparedness and prevention by working to understand the many variables that contribute to the long history of natural disasters that have earned the whole region the moniker, “The Pacific Ring of Fire.”

– The original version of this story by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Samantha J. Webb was originally published May 30 by the Navy News Service.

Related Image Gallery: Navy Deploys Scripps Global Drifter Buoys

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