For the first time, a significant payload (100kg) can be transported from a conventional dock, to any specified part of the world's oceans, at speeds comparable to that of ships, but at a fraction of the cost. The payload can be deployed or carried aboard the Saildrone, sampling as it goes and sending data back to base via satellite.
One of the big strengths of the Saildrone design is that it is able to sail in shallow waters and through marine debris such as kelp and discarded nets, etc. This enables the Saildrone to go where other technologies can not. Ships, gliders and drifters all try to operate in deep water, where there is less danger and less chance of entanglement. Saildrone's sleek and slippery design sheds weed and the precise Global positioning system enables it to navigate in confined spaces and in depths as shallow as 7ft.
In association with Barbara Block's team at Stanford University, we will be deploying a shark tracking Saildrone off the Northern California coast.
The Global Tagging of Pelagic Predators (GTOPP) program is an international, multidisciplinary collaboration among biologists, engineers, computer scientists and educators, which will allow users to view and interact with animal tracking data, as well as oceanographic datasets, to marine life observation. By combining data from a diverse number of highly migratory species, and overlaying them with oceanographic data, it is possible to glimpse the processes that influence how open ocean ecosystems work.
A Saildrone will be equipped the an acoustic receiver and deployed off the coast of California. Encounters with a tagged predator will be sent via satellite in real time to the internet and the GTOPP program.
Weather buoy's are a vital part of understanding climate change and tsunami warning, etc. However, they are very expensive to deploy with ships and take regular servicing. As the budgets get cut for science ships around the world, organizations are unable to repair the network, leaving an aging fleet of buoy's which are slowly ceasing to function. In some cases as few as 30% of deployed buoys are still actively reporting.
In association with NOAA, we will be conducting experiments to see if the Saildrone has the ability to replace a buoy. By attaching the same scientific instruments to the Saildrone, we aim to measure the same set of atmospheric and sub surface data as existing buoys, only not needing a ship for deployment or recovery.
If successful, Saildrone would revolutionize the cost of remote ocean measurements and could have a profound effect on the amount of data recovered and hence our understanding of climate change.
While Ocean Acidification is one of the biggest threats facing the planet, it is also one of the least understood. Human use of fossil fuels has resulted in a dramatic increase of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere over the past century. A significant portion of the added atmospheric CO2 is diffusing into the ocean, resulting in chemical and likely biological changes worldwide. Measuring these changes is a critical component of the US National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan and, on the west coast, a large group of collaborating scientists are working within a methodological framework called California Current Acidification Network (C-Can.)
Saildrone will initially be deployed to determine whether it can collect sufficient baseline data to test the following hypothesis:
Local biological activity (production and respiration) has a stronger short term (daily-weekly) influence on aragonite saturation state (a form of calcium carbonate which becomes rare due to acidification from dissolved CO2) in nearshore waters than the direct influence of upwelled water along the northern California coastline. Saildrone will traverse upwelling boundaries, loitering in alternating locations inside and outside upwelled waters, to measure changes in water chemistry. Previous work in kelp beds and tidepools along the coast have shown variation in water chemistry that cannot be explained by upwelling alone. Measurements in shallow, nearshore waters(10-50 meters) have not been done due to the lack of an appropriate, cost-effective platform. Priority measurements include temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen and two out of the four carbonate system parameters - pH and pCO2. An additional parameter – chlorophyll A, is desirable to indirectly measure phytoplankton concentrations.
SailDrone is uniquely suited to patrol the coastal waters, detect upwelling and bloom conditions, quickly survey the bloom extent, and sample gas flux inside/outside bloom boundaries. SailDrone can be targeted to search geometries identified from satellite images and update the search pattern based on measured parameters. These are capabilities too expensive to do by ship, impossible by mooring or sub-surface glider, and very difficult by wave glider as it is too slow