Archive for the ‘Espresso & Biospace’ Category

Trick or Treat? Both if you are a geek!

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

Three gliders patrol the inshore. They are flying in formation, like a graceful,,,,, but slowwww,,, pod of dolphins despite strong currents. We have three gliders in the nearshore formation (RU05, RU21, RU23). The decision in the beginning of the week will be on how to split the formation. The goal will be to provide optimal coverage of the shelf.


The major goal of the experiment is to test the planning and prosecution software of the OOI; however we have chosen this time as any data in the fall will be scientifically valuable for understanding the dynamics of the Mid-Atlantic Bight. The waters on the MAB exhibit considerable seasonal and inter-annual variability in temperature and salinity. In late spring and early summer, a strong thermocline develops at about the 20 m depth across the entire shelf, isolating a continuous mid-shelf “cold pool” (formed in winter months) that extends from Nantucket to Cape Hatteras. This stratification forms one of the most extreme coastal thermoclines on Earth with temperatures ranging from 30º to 8ºC with the majority temperature change occurring within five meters. The cold pool persists throughout the summer until fall when the water column overturns and mixes in the fall, which provides a source of nutrients to the MAB shelf. Thermal stratification re-develops in spring as the frequency of winter storms decrease and surface heat flux increases. While it has long been appreciated that seasonal phytoplankton blooms are important in shelf and slope waters of the MAB many studies have found that the maximum chlorophyll concentration appeared during fall-winter in middle and outer shelf waters and that slope waters possess a secondary spring peak in addition to the a fall-winter bloom. The fall winter bloom is the largest and most recurrent event on the shelf. Despite the importance of this biological event for the MAB ecosystem, we have very little data. This experiment will collect data at a critical time!

So what is the status of the MAB? The three nearshore gliders show a well mixed with no real stratification of the shallow waters. Despite this lack of stratification there is enhanced chlorophyll and optical backscatter in the bottom waters. The depth average currents are strong and flowing to the north. There is good agreement between all three gliders.




In contrast, RU15 is offshore and the conditions show some differences from the nearshore glider fleet. The offshore glider shows southward flowing currents. The offshore shelf waters are still stratified. The salinity shows the inner shelf contains more saline waters. The optical backscatter and chlorophyll are enhanced in the surface waters above the thermocline. The Colored Dissolved Organic Matter fluorescence show distinct differences above and below the thermocline. There are also strong nearshore and offshore gradients.






Current thinking is that the winter bloom proper should begin once the thermocline is eroded and nutrients are replenished in the surface waters. The second factor that is key is that winds should die for period of time allow the water column to stabilize. This allows the cells to overcome chronic light limitation in fully mixed water column. Therefore with a little luck we can watch in the comes days, erosion of shelf stratification, water column stabilization and the beginning of the MAB winter bloom.

OOI’s Ocean Observing Simulation Experiment begins

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

The Ocean Observing Initiative (OOI) has begun construction. For information of the OOI go to

The OOI has a large effort to build a mature cyberinfrastructure to support OOI and all ocean infrastructure. As part of that 6 effort and growing out of over a decade planning we begin. First things first, we toast with a Halloween pint, the three who got us here, John Delaney, John Orcutt, and Robert Weller. For this effort we are a small piece of the OOI, and we represent a small part of the OOI cyberinfrastructure team. We are teaming up with infrastructure being funded by the NOAA IOOS MarCOOS and the ONR ESPreSSO programs. For the next two weeks, we will be testing all the Planning and Prosecution software during an Observing System Simulation Experiment (OSSE). The OSSE software team is large but anchored by scientists/engineers from Rutgers, Scripps, Cal-IT, MIT, USGS, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab.

We will be testing several distinct software programs (to be highlight in several blogs to follow in the next few days) trying to coordinate real assets in the field during windy rough November weather in the angry seas on the Mid-Atlantic Bight. During this week we highlight in a series of blogs the range of technologies we will be deploying. The observation assets that we will use are satellites including AVHRR, MODIS, GOES 11+12, FY1D, OCM, TMI+AMSRE, and AASTR. These images will be complemented with a full nested CODAR array. The in situ robotic systems will consist of a fleet of Teledyne Webb Slocum gliders complemented with a fleet of propellered REMUS and Iver AUV systems. These field assets are complemented with NOAA NODC moorings. For models, we are utilizing numerical models from U Mass Dartmouth (Avijit Gangopadhyay), Stevens Institute (Alan Blumberg), University of North Carolina (outer boundary condition, Ruoying He), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Pierre Lermusiaux), Rutgers (John Wilkin), Jet Propulsion Lab (Yi Chao). These ocean models are complemented by the atmospheric NAM model. The model and observation data can be accessed through the our ocean data portal constructed by the Jet Propulsion Lab.

To follow along, go to:

A social network site will be unveiled on Monday to collate all efforts To people who use the ocean in the Mid-Atlantic, please send us your comments. Join the network at:
Note this site will be cleaned but please come join the network to give us your feedback. We need your eyes and brains. Our goal is to collect all the goods, bads, and ALL suggestions to make the infrastructure good for those use the ocean. The next blog will talk about the status of the mid-Atlantic Ocean today.

Oscar & Scott (aka Scotscar)

Gulf Stream 101

Sunday, May 10th, 2009


Winslow Homer's picture of the Gulf Stream

The Gulf Stream is a central to our efforts to cross the Atlantic ocean.  This is because as can be seen in the RU27 velocities, it is rapidly moving (I mean really rapid) current.  The Gulf Stream originates in the Gulf of Mexico, exits through the Strait of Florida, and follows the eastern coastlines of the United States and Newfoundland before crossing the Atlantic Ocean (Figure below is a SST from today's data page showing the warm Gulf Stream in which hopefully RU27 remains!). The rapid currents are driven by the process of western intensification. This is the intensification of the western arm of an oceanic current, usually a gyre in an ocean basin. The trade winds blow westward in the tropics, and the westerlies blow eastward at mid-latitudes. This wind pattern applies a stress to the subtropical ocean surface with negative curl in the northern hemisphere. The resulting transport is equatorward. Because of conservation of potential vorticity, that transport is balanced by a narrow, intense poleward current, which flows along the western boundary of the ocean basin, allowing the vorticity introduced by coastal friction to balance the vorticity input of the wind.  Really geaky, but wind drives large ocean currents that runs into a barrier (land) and the currents in the northern hemispere are driven north in the Atlantic.  That large raging current is our ticket for cruising at least 30% our journey if we are lucky!avhrr_sst

Western intensification of Gulf Stream provides northward accelerating current offshore the east coast of North America. At about 30°W, 40°N, it splits in two, with the northern stream crossing to northern Europe and the southern stream recirculating off West Africa. The Gulf Stream influences the climate of the east coast of North America from Florida to Newfoundland, and the west coast of Europe. Although there has been recent debate, there is consensus that the climate of Western Europe and Northern Europe is warmer than it would otherwise be; and that this is due to the North Atlantic drift, one of the branches from the tail of the Gulf Stream. The power of the Gulf Stream has long been considered a potential source of energy ever since its discovery by Juan Ponce de León in 1513.  We here in the tri-State also have some nice Gulf Stream history, as our local historical figure Benjamin Franklin (Old map below) studied and mapped the current in detail. Also the lore of the Gulf Stream was captured by the famous artist Winslow Homer (Figure at top of the page).  Looking at Winslow’s painting, I have one thought,,,, I don’t like those sharks.


Some good links and references can be found at:

Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe (2006). Pathfinders: A Global History of Exploration. W.W. Norton & Company. pp. 194. ISBN 0-393-06259-7.

Matthias Tomczak and J. Stuart Godfrey (2001). Regional Oceanography: an Introduction. Matthias Tomczak, pp. 42. ISBN: 8170353068.

Bio-Fouling 101

Friday, May 8th, 2009

Bio-Fouling 101: RU27 continues cruising in the Gulf Stream tonight, which is a great step forward.  Our goal is to use the speed of this current as much possible to head as far East as quickly as possible.  There are many reasons why we obsess riding this Gulf stream as far East as quickly as possible.  First, the sooner we make it across the faster we can declare victory!  But to make that happen, we need to maximize the amount of distance we cover as quickly as possible. This will require we keep the time we have maximum glider speed and maneuverability for as much of the journey as possible.  There is some problems that we will have to deal with.  One issue is bio-fouling, which has plagued humans since they have been going to sea.  Bio-fouling is the undesirable accumulation of microorganisms, plants, algae, and/or animals.  It is horrible, it is athlete foot squared, it is finding snails living in your apartment in the furniture (not that it would ever happen to anyone….).

Humans have been dealing marine_biofouling_full_size_portraitwith bio-fouling since they have been going to sea.  Early sailors used various mixtures (train oil, rosin, brimstone, tar, pitch, etc.).  A brilliant suggestion was provided by Charles Perry in 1708, who suggested using copper sheathing.  The copper performed very well in protecting the ship hull from worm and weed.  Geeks later figured out that copper in sea water produced a poisonous film of oxychloride that totally hurts marine creatures. This poison film also washed away, leaving so the marine life could attach itself to the ship. From about 1770, the Royal Navy set about coppering the bottoms of the entire fleet and continued to the end of the use of wooden hulled ships. The process was so successful that the term copper bottomed came to mean something that was highly dependable or risk free.  The problem, copper is heavy so it is not an option for the glider.  Therefore we have focused on a new approach.  We have coated the glider in a unique Teflon skin, we hope that this special surface will have the critters slipping off the skin.  Over time however some animals will stick, and the fauna will build up and this will result in a decrease in speed and maneuverability.

Biofouling is generally divided into microfouling  (biofilm formation and bacterial adhesion) and macrofouling (attachment of larger organisms, of which the main culprits are barnacles, mussels, polychaete worms, bryozoans, and seaweed).  These micro and macro critters are coming, we will need to live this.  But their growth takes time so the further we get the better.  So tonight as RU27 surfs the mighty Gulf stream, we can just say “Go fast and go far”. So for the RUCOOL undergraduate glider pilots, be smart so we can “Go fast and go far”.

June 15 2008

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Writing late from the West coast, I am pleased to report that the Cal Poly team recovered Ru05.  The gliders are being packed up and then they will be deployed as part Rimpac efforts.  As this field ends up we want to thank the numerous people who were the trench warriors.  We raise a toast for the OSU, Cal-Poly, and the NRL team.  thanks everyone!  osc

June 12 2008, IGOR WAS RIGHT, no surprises there

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Based on input from Mark last night we adjusted the glider way point last night around 10 PM and Chip caught ru05 at the 1AM surfacing so we toast him and mark.  The glider was given a new wavepoint has been flying well.  It has made its waypoint and now it will head across the Bay tomorrow.  The pick-up is scheduled for the 14th, no boats on the water Friday the 13th!! Igor preducted a reversal in the currents and if you at the currents from Ru05 it does show a reversal several surfacing ago.  Given that we salute Igor tonight!  Also we give an acknowledgement to Mike twardowski and his WetLabs crew who fixed the AUVB laser on ru16 today!

In Monterey Bay we expect the currents continue to look muddled in the Bay and lets see if Igor continues his mastery over nature in the coming day.

June 11 2008, Plans & I Want Igor’s Forecast to be Right!

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

Busy day making plans for remaining time the Rutgers team can be involved in the BioSpace effort.  Gliders will be recovered and need to shipped by the 18th for Hawaii for the Rimpac effort where they will deployed by the Summner.  Mark will continue the REMUS efforts through the 14th which is the currently day planned for the recovery of RU05.  Given this and well to put it bluntly, we hope that the goddamn southern strong currents driven by the goddamn southern winds will weaken.  Given this we have redirected ru05 towards the southeastern corner on Monterey Bay.  This will allow ru05 to cut across the southern flowing currents and simulataneously  collect southern Bay data that complements the Groucho and Marko NRL glider data on the Northern side of the Glider. 

The ru05 data continues to show fasle bottoms.  I believe this is due to the biological layers of stuff bigger the phytoplankton like squid, fish etc. (so who cares then!).  The REMUS data will be invaluable to sorting out this issue once we get back to shore.

The Igor forcast calls for the southern flowing currents might be disrupted in the next 24 hours. We would be stoked if this is the case.  The blooms continue shown by some more BOOM BOOM imagery, and we expect the currents to change as the features from the South reach Monterey Bay. So I say tonight, IGOR IGOR IGOR!!!!!

June 10 2008

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Bio-Space continues to rock Monterey.  The winds continue to be southwest with enough "oooffff" to make it uncomfortable offshore.  The inner bay continues to exhibit quiet currents that are recirculating compared to the offshore strong southern currents. 


The satellite imagery from Bob "Boom Boom" Arnone is sweet, showing the inner Bay bloom and the likley southernly flowing chlorophyll from the North.  Igor playing the role of god continues his biological forecasting and it captures many of the features present in Bob's imagery.  RU05 continues it's zig zag in the Bay, but we have retasked RU05 to move offshore a bit and hit those strong southern currents.  That is likely to happen sometime this evening.  The Cal-Poly team is working Wetlabs to figure out the issues we had with BAM sensors, prior to the deployment offshore Hawaii in just over two weeks. 




June 9 2008

Monday, June 9th, 2008

All goes well with Ru05.  It is flying throughout the Monterey Bay, with almost Nascar precision.  It will continue its survey in the Bay.  It is not surprsing it is holding its position nicely inside the Bay.  The glider currents suggest the currents in the Bay are weak, which agrees with the CODAR measurements.  Outside of the Bay the currents pick up however and continue to have that strong southward flowing current which made life so "tasty" for the Cal-Poly heros over the weekend. 

The Bay continues to show higher clhorophyll then the surrounding waters.  Chlorophyll is also high near the coast and it likely contributes to the biomass downstream given the strong southerly flow.  The entire circulation patterns show some nice recurculation cells offshore which show SO nicely in Igors simulations.  the Biospace data is put quite simpley,,,,,AWESOME


June 8 2008, RU05 back in buisness

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

It has been a few long days for the Cal-Poly team! They recovered both gliders not under the most ideal of conditions. RU05 ran out of juice on Friday and was put into drift mode, and the system was picked up the next morning. Ru16 was recovered, and despite efforts, we were unable to figure what was causing issues with the system. Therefore directly after the ru05's recoveries it was rebatteried and deplyed. It will survey within Monterey Bay. The first few profiles have been collected and we will assess how much has changed over the few days we have been in and out of the water. To quote Mark from this morning "RU05 is on task!!!" WE TOAST THE CAL-POLY WARRIORS!!!

The BIOSPACE team continues to rock. below is an update from Igor:

"I attached clear satellite images of Chl and SST (also on our web site you can see derived IOPs). There is a strong offshore warm (with lower Chl) anticyclonic eddy. Inside the bay, there are water masses with high values of CHL and warmer water along the coast, and with lower values of the Chl in the center of the Bay (in the center of the cyclonic eddy in the bay). There are higher Chl and warmer water masses (tongue of water) advected to the south of the Bay. These water masses are mixing with upwelled water from the southern upwelling center at Pt. Sur, and they are advected together westward offshore. To the north of the Bay, there is a tongue of upwelled (low Chl) water along the coast. This upwelled water detached and pushed offshore water masses (phytoplankton rich water masses) coming from the north (San Francisco area). Also, I attached images from NCOM-based Monterey model. Predictions from the model are in a really good agreement with observed Chl and SST images."

Status on 4 NRL gliders:"