Archive for August, 2011

The Aftermath

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Hey all!

I would like to apologize I was writing this Friday but then was distracted by Irene and headed home for the storm but I am finally getting a post back up.  But our prayers are out there for everyone effected by the storm and it's aftermath.

Route 18 at the exits for Rutgers University

Spectacles such as this shot of Rt 18 North and South bound with New Brunswick NJ, on the left and the Raritan River over the barrier to the right were scene all along the eastern seaboard of the United States from the Carolina's all the way up through Vermont, to where Tropical Storm Irene now sits up along the eastern shore of Canada.

Unfortunately, as Challenger is in the midst of storms 25 & 26, it may feel Irene's wrath as well if the Jet Stream carries her that way.

But back to looking at Challenger's progress... As of yesterday morning, Challenger has officially made it south of the southern tip of England!

ULPGC Sea Surface Height model with Currents

Over the past week we have made some great progress as we have gone from one eddy to the next, and with the way point changed to just about above the Azores, we can keep on our path to the south.  Looking at the sea surface height data from U. Las Palmas, we have been riding the eastern side of a number of warm eddies, and if we catch the SW currents we predict, we should cover quite a bit of lounge.

The eddies also are picked up quite well by the sea surface temperature from Las Palmas shown below

The picture above shows the sst that very clearly outlines the gradient caused by the gulf stream that we are beginning to breach.

Taking an even closer look with the 72 hour satellite imagery from Las Palmas, we can see an arm from the gulf stream swirling up and around in the pattern of a warm core eddy that also follows the currents forecast.

Finally, last week we made a few adjustments to the flight characteristics of Challenger, including making the dive angle less extreme.  This caused two things: 1st was that it caused each dive to take longer, but 2nd it proved to be very energy efficient.  A plot of energy consumption predicting how long our batteries will last is below.

from Ruben Marrero

Stay tuned for future updates!

Nilsen & Antonio

The never ending history…

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

Hey all

Courage dear friends !!

I see that finally, irene is flying the NY area as tropical storm, and in spite of coastal damages, heavy rain and electric power cuts, the NY area is not so affected as expected. Really happy that all of you be safe and danger is finally ending. I would also like to congratulate the Rapid Response Emergency Protocole implementation of all the actors: the eastern coast´s people and the administration, the security and protection forces, the research centres and Universities... It has been a great example to the world.

SILBO: Anyway, first, congrats to all of you great team. Silbo is finally sailing the 40s. And it has not been easy. In fact, challenger 1 is not being an easy mission. It is not the same to flight a transoceanic glider in longitude (ru17, scarlet, cook..) than in latitude (silbo). Marine Climate lines appear one behind the another (Figure 1 and Figure 2). It looks that our brave droid, is crossing the northern side of the gulf stream branch (storm passing line, thermohaline fronts..), and this, definitely has been really an area of disagreement between global model outputs (all of us agreed) and silbo ground true.

Figure 1.- SST field, 28th aug 2011.

Figure 2.- Salinity field, 28th aug 2011.

The N-S flight is definitely and significantly affected by normal/axial W-E, E-W events (storm passing lines,.. ) A possible way to sort it out in better conditions is flying the ROM areas where models (especially the atmospheric forcing models that feed the outputs) are really better and more precise (2 km2, hourly) than
global models do. If all follows like now, we would have a great oportunity to show the ROM capacities from azores to Canaries when we touch the ROM european domain. However, "this, dear friends, is another history... so it may be counted in another occasion" (never ending history, by Michael Ende). For the moment: we would have to focuse on touching the 2000 km line...the 2500 km...the 3000 km.

The storms (our never ending history of 1 each 3 days of mission) and the associated energy in the border line (coincinding with the N side of the gulf branch) seems extremely dynamic and energetic. Just a little bit of patient to cross it (Figure 3). However ir will be really interesting to follow the passing line of irene to the NE atlantic during the next few days.../more information about irene in

Figure 3.. Storm fields on 28 aug 2011. 10.00 am (gmt).

However look in the current fields update that just passed this line (48-49 N), current trend becomes stable and SW SE S oriented. to our destiny... to Azores (Figure 4, Figure 5 and Figure 6).

Figure 4.- SSH above geoid field, 28th aug 2011.

Figure 5.- Current field, 28th aug 2011.

Figure 6.- Meridional North (red) South (blue) current field. 28th aug 2011.

Finally, today, an exception,

we wish you all FORCE & HONOUR (no SEA no WIND today..)

Antonio Ramos & Nilsen Strandskov.


Looking for something to do to…

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Looking for something to do to wait out the storm? Follow along at as IMCS scientists blog about...

Challenger 1’s Sailing Away…

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Morning everyone,

Over this past weekend, Challenger 1 has soarded through the Atlantic, travelling nearly 96km (~60miles). For the past two weeks, around the time we were halfway past Ireland, the currents started really aiding us. Manipulating through the Eastern side of clockwise rotating eddys with strong Southern- Southeasterly currents boosted us through the ocean. We are currently almost halfway past France and more than halfway to the Azores, where we may get Challenger 1 recharged and cleaned off, we are not quite certain yet.

Also, the team decided to move the waypoint a little ways to the West after the next few surfacings. It's not going to be moved immediately because we still want to take advantage of the beneficial currents in the current path with the current waypoint.


Dr. Josh Kohut is interviewed …

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Dr. Josh Kohut is interviewed by Rutgers Today on the massive algae bloom observed along the coast of NJ over the...

The Axial mission is underway!

Monday, August 22nd, 2011


The Axial mission is underway for Rutgers and U Washington with the launch of the glider.  Check out the beautiful web sit that is updating for the cruise at. This web site is BEAUTIFUL!!!  Check it out!!!

As we collect more glider data I will blog on what that glider is seeing every few days.

From their sit here is the launch message

Contributed by Tina Haskins, Rutgers University

photo by Allison Fundis

Today marked the beginning of a new collaboration between Rutgers University and the University of Washington with the deployment of RU25. The Slocum Electric Glider, which is capable of diving to 1000 meters deep, will spend the next ten days surveying the water column around the Axial Seamount. The AUV will cover approximately 180 kilometers while sending back CTD data every 3-4 hours. Not only does this data become immediately available to the scientists on board the R/V Thompson but it also goes live to the web. The glider can be tracked by simply going to the Rutgers glider website.

After running some initial tests on the boat the glider was ready for deployment. In order to safely deploy the glider we employed the use of one of our small boats. We were able to load the glider and crew into the small boat which was then slowly lowered down to the water. It wasn't the calmest of days which lead to all participants of the deployment crew getting quite wet. Once we had some clearance from the R/V Thompson it was time to launch the glider. The first test dive was on over depth mission, this checks to make sure the glider is properly ballasted and is able to do a single dive and climb; otherwise known as a yo. RU25 successfully completed its over depth mission and was able to advance to a longer test mission in which it does multiple yo's over the course of 20 minutes. After it surfaces data files are transfered to analyze the flight dynamics of the glider. RU25 was deemed sea worthy and stable for deployment. The deployment crew returned to the Thompson and RU25 started its mission.

Over the next several days the glider will be monitored closely by Rutgers personnel both aboard the R/V Thompson and in New Jersey. Gliders are unique in that they allow for real-time adaptive sampling. The initial game plan can be seen in the file to the left, however, if scientists come across something unique in the data the path can be altered.

photo by Allison Fundis


The end of the first chapter…

Friday, August 19th, 2011


"This one is neither the end, nor even the beginning of the end... but the end of the beginning"... (W. Churchill)

Hey guys...

Silbo is ending the first chapter (30 %) of his great history ... He has flown 1500 km at 0.3 m/s (1.1 km/h) during 57 days. He is crossing right now the green and magic western coast of Ireland.

Figure 1.- Silbo crossing (23 jun-19 aug 2011).

During these 1500 kms we have tried to fly the eastern side of the warm eddies. When we plot the synoptic profile of salinity and Temperature clockwise warm cores appear clearly above 400 m (in the epipelagic domain).


Figure 2.- Silbo profiles of Temperature and Salinity (23 jun-19 aug 2011).

Now, he is heading the main Gulf Stream branch located on 40s parallels. The first change that we would observe on this second chapter are poorer oligotrophic waters, at warmer SSTs and higher salinities.  However, the most important remark is that we left the thermohaline branch of the gulf stream flowing N (to Iceland) and we would begin to observe currents flowing E (to the French-Spaniard Gulf of Biscaine) and SE (Madeira-Canary islands).  It can be observed in the northern border of the main gulf stream branch in the map of salinity (figure 5). They are all warm eddies formed in the border resulting of an eastern flow of the general current path.

Figure 3.- Chl a field MODIS (19 aug 2011).

Figure 4.- SST field MODIS (19 aug 2011).

Figure 5.- Salinity field (19 aug 2011).

However, during the last week Silbo has reduced his speed. We expected intense current flowing SE-S and all the model (the last post) forecasted that silbo would cross the eastern side of warm eddies at higer speeds than observed on the ground.

Figure 6.- SSHa field (19 aug 2011).

Figure 7.- Current field (17-18-19 aug 2011).

The explanation to this extrange behaviour of this current fields was suggested in the last post, and, two days later, confirmed by Silbo on the ground. Storms (22 in 57 days) become stronger and more active at this latitudes (SST increases). The first effect of  storm is a significant change on current path. Since the 23 of june we have suffered two strong inertial oscillations that turned the direction of the current 360 degrees in 14-18 hours.

We think that we are actually suffering one of this inertial perturbation as a result of our 22th and 23th respective storms crossing at Silbo Latitude domain. It could explain the incongruence of his ground true current with these obtained from global models. Daily Global Models output would not explain the hourly variation of the current speed. To report such a feature, it would be neccessary to use ROM data (Regional Ocean Model outputs). But this, are only available in the European Domain eastern 20 W (we are at 24.5 W).

Figure 8.- Inertial oscillation (17-18-19 aug 2011).

We would keep you updated the next days.

have a nice weekend

Antonio Ramos & Nilsen Strandskov


Arms of the Gulf Stream

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Hey All!

Challenger weaving its way through the eddy solar system


As Challenger 1 continues to work its way south along the eastern side of the second large warm eddy of the solar system and battle its way through our 22nd storm, we continue to make good progress as we are now half way to the Azores!!!  The two images above are of Sea Surface Height showing our path along the eastern side of a large eddy.  Keeping this pace, we could reach the Azores by the 2nd week in October and so if Challenger has begun feeling any effects from biological growth, we will be able to provide aid.

Storm # 22

These storms however are intensifying as we get later in the year.  As the summer months warm the North Atlantic, the strong storms we see along the Eastern Sea Board of the U.S. gain strength as they then are carried by the Jet Stream right to us!

Speaking of the warming seas, lets look at an interesting point in the temperature data from the North Atlantic.

Sea Surface Temperatur Map (Top) and Temperatures at a depth of 300m

The first image is surface temperatures while the second image is of temperature at depths of 300m.  The second image shows how deep the effects of some of the larger eddies can be seen.

Similarly, looking at the temperature profiles from Challenger since deployment, we can see the thermocline grow deeper as we passed through the wall of warm core eddies along our journey.

Finally, we see something very interesting looking at the sea surface salinity maps of the North Atlantic.  Below, we can see that we are on just the outer edge of the northern arm of the Gulf Stream.  We predict, that once we cross into the 40's latitudes and past the edge of the Gulf Stream, we will find even stronger currents that will aid us further on our way to greatness!

Salinity Map of the North Atlantic showing the branches of the Gulf Stream

Stay tuned for more updates soon!

Nilsen & Antonio

A piece of plankton poetry. ht…

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

A piece of plankton poetry.

Several years ago, James Camer…

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Several years ago, James Cameron collaborated with IMCS Director Rich Lutz and Professor Peter Rona on the film...