October 2014

UM, NOAA Track Hurricane Edouard Intensification by Aircraft

Images credit: Benjamin Jaimes, Ph.D.

As tropical storm Edouard was forming in the Eastern Atlantic west of the Cape Verde Islands, a team of hurricane scientists from NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division (HRD) and the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science were taking to the skies to deploy a series of highly specialized instruments to collect critical information on ocean and atmospheric conditions along the storm’s predicted track.

For the last four years, UM Rosenstiel School Professor Nick Shay, a SECOORA Prinicipal Investigator, and researchers Benjamin Jaimes and Jodi Brewster have been working closely with engineers at Lockheed Martin in Marion, Massachusetts, the manufacturer of the expendable ocean probes, to prepare the instruments to collect the valuable data necessary to help forecast where and when a newly developed tropical storm would intensify into a category hurricane.

On Friday, Sept. 12 when Edouard was a mere day-old tropical storm, the research team, including Jaimes from the UM Rosenstiel School Upper Ocean Dynamics Laboratory and UM alumni and NOAA hurricane scientist Eric Uhlhorn, departed St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands aboard NOAA’s P3 hurricane hunter aircraft. On this first flight they deployed a total of 27 of the specialized ocean sensors to survey the ocean conditions ahead of the predicted storm track.

Three types of specialized ocean probes were deployed into the ocean to measure currents, temperature and salinity. All of these factors  provided Edouard the fuel necessary to intensify. Eight were dropped from the aircraft to measure currents to a depth of 1500 meters (4921 feet), seven to survey water temperature and salinity at a 1000 meters (3280 feet) depth, and twelve others to measure ocean temperatures at up to 400 meters (1312 feet) depth.

Using daily satellite-based heat maps produced by Shay’s research group at the UM Rosenstiel School in conjunction with the field data, the team was able to identify where the ocean temperatures where high enough to fuel the storm’s steady intensification into a hurricane.

Jaimes and third-year Ph.D. graduate student Johna Rudzin, were aboard NOAA’s aircraft for in-storm flights on Sept. 14, 15 and 16 to measure ocean thermal structure and ocean currents in the eye of the storm. During these in-storm flights, lead by NOAA's Ocean Winds Science Team and HRD, the UM team deployed 23 additional sensors to evaluate the in-storm ocean temperature response that will be used to help improve intensity forecast models. During a fifth and final flight on Sept. 17, they deployed more probes, a total of 38, over the same region as the Sept 12 pre-storm flight to collect information on the ocean conditions after Edouard passed through on its way into the Central Atlantic as a category-3 hurricane.

“The research missions were a tremendous success with nearly 90% of the probes returning great data,” said Shay. “This was in large part due to an extensive collaborative effort between our UM team and the engineers at Lockheed Martin.” NOAA provided invaluable aircraft time during the test flights.

Rudzin was able to add one more in-flight experiment before the team headed back to St. Croix to study the warm, deep water eddies spinning off the North Brazil Current, located offshore of northeastern Brazil, into the Caribbean Sea. Similar to the eddies of the Gulf of Mexico’s Loop Current that helped intensify Hurricane Katrina, these warm-core features originating from the North Brazil Current could be important pieces of information to forecast hurricane intensification in the North Atlantic. Rudzin deployed a total of 54 probes into a deep, large eddy to collect critical data on these important hurricane-fueling stations.

The UM team returned from the week-long hurricane field experiment with valuable data necessary for scientists to improve hurricane forecast models, now and in the future.



Re-posted from UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science - Click for original post

SECOORA Inspires Future Ocean Experts at St. Petersburg Science Festival

On October 18, SECOORA participated in the St. Petersburg Science Festival. Since 2011, the festival hosted on the Bayboro Harbor in St. Petersburg, FL has been inspiring children to get excited about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) activities. It is estimated the two-day event attracts over 25,000 visitors.

SECOORA, Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association (GCOOS-RA), and the University of South Florida (USF) teamed together to help cultivate the future generation of ocean observers. The joint exhibit highlighted how to bring real-time ocean and coastal data to the classroom and household.

SECOORA would like to thank Jay Law of USF Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction Systems and Chad Lembke of USF Center for Ocean Technology for providing a buoy and an autonomous underwater vehicle, Murphy, for display. The buoy and glider drew high traffic and media attention. As visitors explored SECOORA’s data portal they were able to relate the data to the piece of equipment.

WTSP/CBS produced a web story based on our collaborative exhibit. Click here to view video/ story.


All images are property of SECOORA

Canterbury School of Florida Oceanography Class Assists in Researching Plastic Marine Debris

Did you know that plastic items like those you probably use every day can end up in the middle of the ocean, thousands of miles from land? Plastic is one of the most abundant marine debris found in beach cleanups and open ocean samples.  As plastics travel, they are weathered, become irregular in shape and break down to form microplastics.
Defined by NOAA, microplastics are plastic pieces less than 5mm long. Due to the size of microplastics, it is hard to define their point of origin and how long they have been out at sea.
From mid 1980s, Sea Education Association (SEA) scientists and students have been collecting and archiving data on plastic marine debris. Over the years, they have collected the longest and most extensive data set in the open ocean for the North Atlantic and Caribbean Sea.
Kara Lavender Law, research professor at SEA, studies this data set. Her interests include understanding how ocean physics determines the distribution of marine debris and the deterioration process, primarily UV degradation, of various plastics when exposed to the ocean environment.
As part of her research, Kara and her collaborators are deploying three different types of plastics into various marine environments around the U.S. and observing how they degrade over time.
On October 12, SECOORA joined Kara, University of South Florida Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction Systems (USF COMPS) and Canterbury School of Florida oceanography class as they deployed plastic samples in a tidal creek on their campus. Kara spoke to the class via Skype, giving them background information on the project. USF COMPS Research Associate, Jay Law, helped the students deploy the samples. Every four to six months the oceanography class will mail plastic pieces to Kara’s lab to be observed under a microscope and tested for their mechanical integrity.
Learn more about Kara’s research here: https://vimeo.com/51997119

Gliderpalooza 2014

SECOORA Members, Catherine Edwards, University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography (UGA SKIO), and Dr. Ruoying He, North Carolina State University (NCSU) are participating in the second annual Gliderpalooza.
  Edwards with Modena, Gliderpalooza 2013
   Image Credit: UGA SKIO
Gliderpalooza 2014 is running from August to November 2014. Over the months, there will be more than 30 deployments of autonomous underwater gliders, including UGA SKIO’s glider “Modena”, surveying the Western Atlantic Coastal Ocean from Newfoundland to Georgia. Modena was deployed on September 19 and retrieved October 10.
Sixteen research institutions will collect extensive data of the U.S. Eastern Coastal Ocean during this peak period of fall storms. Many gliders will carry Vemco mobile transceivers, provided by Dalhousie University’s Ocean Tracking Network, to detect tagged fish and mammals as the gliders cruise the continental shelf.
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Association Coastal Ocean Observing System (MARACOOS) is coordinating the effort. Real time locations of gliders can be followed on MARACOOS Assets Explorer here.
Dr. Ruoying He and his team at NCSU is supporting the effort by providing nowcast and forecast of marine environmental conditions in the Northwest Atlantic via the Atmosphere-Ocean-Wave Coupled Model Prediction System. The system consists of a 9 km-resolution WRF model fully coupled with 7 km-resolution ROMS and SWAN models. Freshwater discharge of all major rivers and seven major tidal constituents are incorporated. 
The coupled system performs daily nowcasts and three-day forecasts. Model output includes sea level air pressure, 2 m air temperature, 10 m wind, surface wave height and directions, three-dimensional ocean circulation, temperature, and salinity. Model outputs in Google KMZ format allows direct blending and presentation of glider tracks with model nowcast/forecast fields.

Explore NEW Climatology Tool

SECOORA’s new Climatology Tool allows you to view and download historical temperature and salinity data from SECOORA buoys as well as model results. We ask you be a part of the development process and help us refine the tool by please sending us your comments, questions and feedback. Contact us at communications@secoora.org.


Graphed below is historical salinity data taken from the C10 buoy, part of University of South Florida’s Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System (COMPS) network. C10 is located off the West Florida Shelf.


Help SECOORA Set Priorities for Future Funding

Below is a link to a short 13 question survey that will help SECOORA set priorities for future funding. It should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete.


The purpose of the survey is to assess data and information needs, which will assist us with identifying priorities and gaps. We strongly encourage you to please share the survey within your networks and pass along to your colleagues.