by David Bill and James Manning
Oceanographic drifters are simple free-floating instruments, which transmit their own positions via satellite. The transmitter, mounted on the top of the floating drifter is logged over time indicating surface currents. The tracks are updated on the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) website minutes after each transmitted position. The drifters are used to observe ocean circulation patterns and in our case what is occurring for our home waters in Buzzards Bay. Jim Manning an oceanographer at NOAA/NEFSC started using drifters about a decade ago to study ocean current circulation patterns in the Gulf of Maine. Jim suggested to us that real time drifter observations for validating ocean circulation models for Buzzards Bay is valuable scientific data adding to our understanding of ocean currents.
This morning at the Mattapoisett Town Landing Tabor Boy Captain Zane Randall and new student summer orientation Chaperone Mackenzie Chaput picked up Tim Anderson a NOAA Hollings Fellow and his two NOAA oceanographic drifter units (one is a surface drifter and the other is a drogue drifter). Today Tim is overseeing the deployment of the two NOAA drifters and our Tabor drifter onboard Tabor Boy while the schooner is enroute to Cuttyhunk with voyage #4 Tabor Boy new students.
This collaborative project between Tabor Academy and NOAA/NEFSC was inspired a year ago last summer when Marine Science faculty members Jenny Albright and Kimberly Ulmer met up with Jim Manning at the Woods Hole NOAA office during their summer study research visits. Albright and Ulmer brought back the idea of Tabor students building and deploying oceanographic drifters and then studying and contributing the data.
Tabor’s drifter was designed and constructed by Captain Geil’s Theoretical Ship and Boat Design class last fall. From the student designs, a prototype was built and tested, and then implemented in the Tabor Boy new student orientation program starting with voyage one. Jim Manning took an interest in our data and suggested that we deploy all three drifters to make a comparative study.
Like us, Jim Manning and his team at NOAA, you can track the progress of the three drifters (updated by satellite every few hours) on the following Google map link http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/drifter/drift_tabor_2015_1.html
You can view the actual data that the three drifters:
Tabor drifter ID #157410702
NOAA surface drifter ID #157410701
NOAA drogue drifter ID #157410703
are transmitting on the following link:
Watch with us what information the three drifters transmit about actual surface currents in our home waters.