A project to demonstrate the use of gliders in monitoring hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico will be conducted during this year’s hypoxia season. The gliders will be deployed in Summer 2014, in conjunction with shipboard hypoxia measurements from a cruise directed by Chief Scientist Dr. Steven DiMarco, Texas A&M University (TAMU) Geochemical and Environmental Research Group (GERG). The coordinated mission will allow for efficient and effective comparisons between the glider- and cruise-collected data in a highly vertically stratified, shallow, and heavily ship-trafficked region of the Gulf of Mexico.

Aug_GliderRecovery

DiMarco and his team recover the Slocum glider aboard the NOAA vessel, R/V Manta, in August 2013.

The glider-hypoxia demonstration is the result of the efforts of many organizations to cooperate and collaborate on a project that will achieve the objectives for showing the usefulness of gliders for the detection and assessment of hypoxia. The project is funded by NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) in conjunction with its NGOMEX Program and the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) Office through a $35,000 award to the GCOOS-RA. Project development is a public-private cooperative effort of Dr. Stephan Howden of the University of Southern Mississippi, Dr. DiMarco, Teledyne Webb Research (TWR), Exocetus, NCCOS’ Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research (CSCOR) and IOOS. Gliders are being contributed by TWR, Exocetus, TAMU GERG, and TAMU-Galveston. The hypoxia cruise is funded by CSCOR as part of its Gulf of Mexico Ecosystems & Hypoxia Assessment (NGOMEX) research program.

The three main objectives of the project are to demonstrate that gliders can:

  1. profile over the full water column, even in the highly vertically-stratified Northern Gulf;
  2. take measurements, in profiling mode, very close to the seafloor; and
  3. hover within the bottom one meter of the water column.
Although Exocetus Glider is one of the larger gliders, it is still highly maneuverable in shallow water.

Although Exocetus Glider is one of the larger gliders, it is still highly maneuverable in shallow water.

The gliders will be deployed over the Louisiana coastal shelf and associated offshore region. There will be five profiling gliders and one autonomous surface vehicle (ASV). The fleet includes:

  • Two TWR Slocum G2 gliders (owned and operated by TAMU GERG);
  • One TRW Slocum G2 glider (loaned to by TWR to TAMU GERG for operation);
  • One Exocetus coastal glider (owned and operated by Exocetus)
  • One Deep glider (owned and operated by TAMU GERG and TAMU-Galveston); and
  • One Autonaut ASV (owned and operated by TAMU GERG).

All the gliders will have Conductivity-Temperature-Depth (CTDs), fluorometers, and dissolved oxygen sensors. The TAMU-Galveston Deep glider will have an additional microstructure instrument to measure very fine-scale variations in temperature, salinity and velocity.

Three Slocum gliders, one Exocetus glider, and one autonomous surface vehicle will be deployed as part of the hypoxia monitoring experiment in summer 2014.

Three Slocum gliders, one Exocetus glider, and one autonomous surface vehicle will be deployed as part of the hypoxia monitoring experiment in summer 2014.

Dr. DiMarco leads a very capable glider operations unit at TAMU GERG. He is a member of the GCOOS Gulf Glider Task Team, led by Dr. Stephan Howden (USM) and created to develop a glider implementation plan consistent with the GCOOS Build Out Plan for Gulf glider operations.

Data will be made available in near-real time from the GCOOS Data Portal and on the GCOOS gliders map page at http://gcoos.org/products/maps/gulf_gliders/Information about the hypoxia cruise and glider deployments will be available on the TAMU GERG Facebook page.

UPDATE 8/19/14: Both Gliders 307 (Reveille) and 308 have been recovered from their successful missions. Reveille was deployed for 32 days and Glider 308 for 24 days, each monitoring over hundreds of kilometers.

UPDATE 8/26/14: Two Slocum gliders will be deployed again in the next few days from the R/V Manta.  One glider will be deployed in shallow water south of Sabine Bank and one in deep water at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Data will be served through GCOOS.

Update 9/3/14: On Saturday, 30 August, Glider 308 and Dora (Glider 199) were deployed. You can see their progress on the GCOOS site  (Dora is the orange icon and Glider 308 is the yellow icon farthest West on the maphttp://gcoos.org/products/maps/gulf_gliders/ 

For more information, contact Dr. Steve DiMarco at dimarco@tamu.edu. For more information on his hypoxia project see: hypoxia.tamu.edu.