Drifter Buoys

Steve Elci
No Comments January 27, 2017

The 7th grade STEM Magnet Middle School students participating in the NESS program are ready for their next challenge! Last week students used computers to access real-time data and observed the trends of global current patterns in order to explore the interactions of our ocean atmosphere and understand its vital role in weather and climate.

This week, students will build underwater sails for a Drifter Buoy which will be deployed by local fishermen later this spring and contribute to the Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS) (http://www.neracoos.org/sentinelmonitoring/database) database.

AND NOW FOR THE BUILD! Using the plans laid out by at Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) (http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/) program, students began creating the underwater sails for their Drifter Buoy. Student objectives include: using tools to measure the canvas for the sails, sewing the underwater canvas sails reinforced with waxed twine and a sailing needle, and decorating the sails with images of global currents and messages of stewardship. As the students entered the classroom at Ocean Beach for the final day of this program, the tables were set with paint and markers of all types and colors. Students wasted no time diving in, mixing colors, and sketching out patterns of original designs. The sails—which were once off-white blank sheets—were quickly transformed into a student built data collection tool worthy of a long ocean voyage.

Drifter Buoys are an important to local and global efforts in understanding currents and climate and applications of data collected include:

  • Lobster larvae advection
  • Harmful Algal Blooms advection
  • Zooplankton advection
  • Educational demonstration
  • Invasive crab dispersal
  • Transient eddy formations
  • Oil spill tracking
  • Fish larvae (salmon, cod, herring) transport
  • Power plant effluent dispersal
  • Tidal power assessment

Why study global currents? Scientists need citizens to gather real-time data and upload the collected data to a free access platform so that they can predict weather patterns for fishermen, scientists in the field, and students looking to enjoy their afternoon of sailing or kayaking!

Watch this informative movie about Bob the Drifter to learn more https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gysyr2lqwFs .

Stay tuned for the deployment later this spring and follow the progress of drifters currently sailing the currents at http://www.neracoos.org/drifters !

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