From: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Published July 13, 2017 09:43 AM

Summer of sailing drones

Over the next four months, NOAA scientists will launch unmanned ocean vehicles, called Saildrones, from the Arctic to the tropical Pacific Ocean to help better understand how changes in the ocean are affecting weather, climate, fisheries and marine mammals. The wind and solar-powered research vehicles that resemble a sailboat will travel thousands of miles across the ocean, reaching some areas never before surveyed with such specialized technology. 

Probing Alaskan ocean waters 

In mid-July, scientists will send off the first unmanned sailing vehicles from Dutch Harbor, Alaska, with two sailing north through the Bering Strait into the Arctic Ocean and another transiting the Bering Sea. Traversing Alaska’s inhospitable waters, the remotely-operated vehicles will track melting ice, measure the ocean's levels of carbon dioxide, and count fish, seals, and whales to better understand their behavior and population. 

For the first time, the vehicles will journey through the Bering Strait into the Arctic with a newly adapted system to measure CO2 concentrations. “We want to understand how changes in the Arctic may affect large-scale climate and weather systems as well as ecosystems that support valuable fish stocks," says Jessica Cross, an oceanographer at NOAA Research’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL), who is using the unmanned system to study how the Arctic Ocean is absorbing carbon dioxide. 

Read more at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Image: Sailing drones loaded with sensors zip across San Francisco Bay. NOAA will launch these new unmanned vehicles to collect data in the Arctic, Bering Sea and Pacific Ocean over the next four months. Credit: Saildrone Inc.

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