Archive for the ‘Drakes Crossing’ Category

We are Going to Find Drake! Sort of…

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

OK, well, we are not really looking for Drake, but our team is the 26.5 N Team so we will be researching the waters of this line of latitude. Our first step was to see where 26.5 N is:

A view across 26.5N

Florida, Bahamas, and the Continental Shelf


Mid Atlantic Ridge


African Coast


This line of latitude is important for several reasons:

1.) The Gulf Stream moves northward over by the Floridian Coast (red line):


  • The Gulf Stream is important because it is a major factor in heat transfer from the South to the North. Without the Gulf Stream the weather in the Northern Hemisphere would be drastically different!

2.) The North Atlantic Deep Water runs South toward the equator (blue line):

  • The NADW is important because the cold salty water from the North travels south and changes temperature and salinity of waters it encounters

3.) This line of latitude has significance in climate change:

  • Ocean circulation and weather/climate are directly correlated and with all of these different currents running past 26.5N it is a great line of latitude to focus our research on.
  • The transfer of warm water from the Gulf to the North and the movement of the cold and salty North Atlantic Deep Water from the North to the South are important areas to study.
  • Any climate change will be seen in the change in chemistry and physics of the water and currents in this area.

Example of significance in research:

  • If the Gulf Stream moves more warm water than usual to the North then the ice in the North may start to melt and dump large amounts of fresh water into the ocean disrupting the NADW circulation.

4.) There are also a series of moorings along 26.5N that are recording the current's velocities, salinity, and temperature. Drake is also somewhere around 26.5N, or at least before the malfunction we were trying to fly along these moorings at 26.5N!


Chris Filosa, Frank Acevedo, Katie Carson

Predictions For January and A Movie For Us All

Monday, November 30th, 2009

This week Marcus and Kaycee worked on the glider video and continued to watch Drake's movement in the Atlantic.  We found that one our previous predictions (pink path) is appears to be accurate so far and an eddy has appeared in the south and could cause a different path.  Drake also slowed down from 0.11m/s to 0.10m/s making its travel distance 2678400m by January.  We will continue to monitor its path.



Who else has crossed the Atlantic?

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

As RU27 draws closer and closer to its destination in Spain, we begin to look at more than just ship or biological crossings of the Atlantic Ocean. While Magellan, Drake, and Columbus we're easy choices for comparison, we've also been putting the tracks of lesser known crossings into Google Earth. From tuna and turtles to the first swimmer and non electric powered paddle boaters. And we've even added the mysterious path of Amelia Aerhart. Our google earth Atlantic really is starting to look like a spider web of colors with many types of voyages traipsing across the ocean.

Collection of Google Earth Paths

“The groundhog is like most other prophets; it delivers its prediction and then disappears.” -Bill Vaughn

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Although Drake may be no longer swimming, he is still calling in everyday around 21:00-22:00 GMT everyday.

Drake's current velocity is approximately 0.11m/s.  If this continues till January, which is when the next ship will able to pick Drake up, Drake will have travel 361,152m.  This gives Drake at least three projected paths for this time period:


We will continue to monitor the current systems around Drake to keep accurate predictions of where he will be.

Post analysis of Drake's data is our next step in working with Drake in order to determine heat transport along 26.5 degrees North.

“There are moments when you have to just walk away and cry.” – Lou Angeli

Monday, November 16th, 2009

This week is one of disaster and peril.  Drake blew its weight and is now floating in the Atlantic.

On the bright side, our contacts from Southampton are currently servicing their moorings along 26.5 degrees North and drake is only 10 miles from the 50 degrees West mooring.

We are currently trying to contact the group servicing the moorings and determining if they can pick up Drake.

On another note, we have received the mooring data from the Southampton group and can access it for future use.

The weekend after…

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Well the Nor'Easter has passed.  Lots of storm erosion at the shore and the people are picking up the mess.  Meanwhile the gliders still fly.  We had many interesting conversations on Friday through the weekend.  On Friday, the RU and UDel gliders teams tried to figure out the best strategy to keep us from the beach given the worst case forecasts.  This discussion was had with the 2 gliders being smack dab in the middle of the shipping lane.  In an ideal world, we would have the 2 Southern gliders linger between the shipping lanes until pickup on either Tuesday or Wednesday.  The currents at the time made this look optimistic if not dream land.  But to our relief currents lessened and the gliders regained control and seem to be making a good go of moving where we want.  This bodes well for a Delaware Bay pick-up. The Northern gliders were directed to fly towards Tuckerton for a pick-up  One glider has already arrived and will linger.  The other glider which was advected well to the South is making good progress and should be there in a day or two.  One of the gliders will be cleaned and shipped to California for the US-Norwegian NORUS program next week.



While this was going the team was taking a deep breath with RU27 officially reaching European waters in Saturday.  Pick-up is scheduled for the first week of December.  Drake continues its path across the Atlantic, and the deep water Antarctic glider was launched last week and has surveyed the penguin feeding colony before heading out to sea to survey the shelf. It is never boring but always great to be at sea!




Honour All

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

That's how Antonio ended his morning email today. He was the first to see Scarlet cross over the line. Now he has the honor of making Scarlet's first waypoint change in Spanish waters.  As we get closer and closer to Spain, we will rely more and more on local knowledge.  Antonio has asked us to maintain a course to the northeast to compensate for the currents to the southeast.    Because ocean current speeds are nearly matched to Scarlet's own speed through the water, this will result in an eastward path over the ground for Scarlet.  Antonio and I continue watching the forecasts and altimetry products for guidance on current patterns.  The geostrophic currents from the satellite altimeter data we normally use tell us the current should have already turned to the northeast.  Clearly this is not the case.  This morning, Antonio sees that the products on his side have placed that northeast current some nautical miles still to our east.  We'll head towards that current with Antonio's waypoint for the 11 am surfacing.  Tina made the change to Scarlet's course from Palmer Station in Antarctica.


Checking the rest of the fleet, Teledyne's Drake continues on its climate change mission, maintaining the 26.5 N section.  The agreement between the geostrophic surface currents from the altimeter and the depth average currents from Drake continues to amaze us.  The satellites say Drake just entered a southward flowing current, and thats what Drake is reporting.


Back to the Middle Atlantic Bight, the coastal glider fleet (Rutgers & U. Delaware) is emerging from the trailing edge of Tropical Storm Ida.  The front between clear weather and clouds is passing right over New Jersey.  The rain has stopped, and people are out assessing the storm damage. Follow the Middle Atlantic Bight Blog at  for most recent updates.


Moving way south to the Antarctic continent, Tina and Alex deployed RU25 this week from Palmer Station. Follow along on the Antarctic blog at


16 Kilometers & The Coolest 20 Years

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Gliders on both sides of the Atlantic are getting hammered by storms tonight.  But thats ok.  They are underwater gliders.  They can handle it. They are what we'll use to explore some of the most extreme environments on the planet.


Zooming into the East Coast of the U.S., we get ready to close out the intense Mid Atlantic fall sampling season with the remnants of Hurricane Ida.  White is clouds, green is rain.  An amazing storm. Flooding along much of the east coast today on TV.


Look below the clouds and see one of the most amazing sights on the planet.  A full scale regional coastal observatory running full bore through the storm.  Satellites grabbed the initial sea surface tmeperature condition pre-storm. The full CODAR network was ready for this one, and the undergrads put it into google earth for the old guys like me to use.  The gliders had an amazaing fall.  First the 4-glider joint IOOS, Navy, ONR, NSF survey timed to the NOAA fisheries survey for the NOAA Fate program.  Then the NSF OOI CI IO OSSI (I love that acronym). I lost track of how many AUVs and gliders were in the water, all being directed by the CyberInfrastructure software pulling data from the MARCOOS forecast models. Followed by this week's combined NSF OOI and DHS Center of Excellence field test.  We had more satellites looking at the Mid Atlantic through that high pressure at the beginning of the week than every before.   Now we end with a severe storm with the hottest set of optics gliders ever deployed.  The grad students were drooling over the storm sediment transport data this morning, pulling off page after page of their next thesis chapter.  On monday we'll start assembling it for the optics folks meeting down at Stennis right after Thanksgiving - Steve & Joan should get a kick out of it.  Its been 20 years to go from vision to implementation. An amazing journey.


Speaking of 20 years, its been 20 years since Hank Stommel's article on the Slocum mission appeared in Oceanography.  Now Drake is holding the line on climate change.  Doug Webb has brought these gliders from vision to fruition in that time, and we hope he is also looking back at the last 20 years as an amazing journey.


Speaking of amazing journeys, Scarlet is now just over 16 kilometers from the Spanish EEZ. Currents have dropped down to about 6 cm/sec, so we only made about 6 kilometers distance during the last 8 hour segment.  We'll continue heading northeast.  It could be a very different blog this time tomorrow night.


Zooming out we see Galicia. We are trying to ride the currents to the east a bit towards shore, then think about turning north into the yellow circle to avoid the most intense vessel traffic.  It looks like there was some interest from the local newspapers today.



Another sign we must be getting close. Instead of a map, tonight Antonio sent us a picture for good luck.  It is "The Guardian of the Bight". In the center is Breogan, the first Celtic Galegian King, a sailor and adventurer.  To the left is The Hercules Tower, built by the Romans in the 2nd century as a light house that is still in use today. As Antonio said, to the right is the sea, and The Scarlet Knight.


Below is the Investigador, the buoy tender used by Puertos del Estado.  She is 47 m long.  Crane, A-frame and Zodiac.  All things that make a glider recovery team happy.






75 kilometers to Spanish waters.

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Drake continues to make steady progress to the east, holding the line perfectly.  A truly amazing test. We'll soon move the waypoint out farther to the east and keep going.


Zooming into Scarlet, we see she is 75 kilometers (thin white line) from the Spanish EEZ (the thin yellow arc).  The pitch adjustment made yesterday looks like it increased Scarlets forward speed to 16 cm/sec.  Thats nearly 14 km/day on her own.  Satellite altimetry says currents are also to the east.



Planning for where we send Scarlet once she enters the Spanish EEZ has become the topic of discussion. The eddy that was in the green zone has evolved into a loop in a strong jet that heads south to Lisbon - our Plan B for recovery.  The yellow zone shows an eddy that has developed inside the Spanish EEZ and is offshore of 12 W (think yellow north-south line). Thats one place we can park. Another option is to try to ride around the outer edge of the loop in the green zone, jump out and head in along the orange  line.  The worry there is the increase in ship traffic.




“It doesn’t make a difference what temperature a room is, it’s always room temperature” -Stephen Wright

Monday, November 9th, 2009

Courtesy of Chip