Global Ocean Drifter Deployed Off Santa Cruz Island16/05/2012
|Two students from Oak Park High School in Oak Park, USA, have deployed a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ocean drifter into the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, contributing to a global array that yields vital environmental data. Calvin Earp and Nirupam Nigam deployed the buoy from the Sanctuary's research vessel Shearwater.|
The students won a prize in NOAA's 'Adopt A Drifter' contest, which gives students across the country the chance to learn about the environment by bringing it right into their classrooms, using the same near-real-time data that ocean and climate scientists use. A group of fourth-grade students from Montalvo Elementary School in Ventura also adopted the buoy and will partner with The International Preparatory School in Santiago, Chile to track it over the next year.
Kathryn D. Sullivan, PhD, assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction and deputy NOAA administrator said that a drifting buoy is like a 21st-century message in a bottle, except it is equipped with oceanographic and climate sensors that let it transmit scientific measurements by satellite, helping us understand the oceans. "With better understanding, we can better predict the paths of approaching hurricanes, the distribution of fish and other marine species, and the fate of marine pollution and debris. Students in schools across the country can adopt a drifter, and follow its journey via the internet. This relationship makes climate and ocean science more tangible, as students discover the workings of the Earth through the lens of their buoy," she said.
Each drifter, or 44-pound floating ocean buoy, moves in the ocean currents. These currents carry heat from place to place, which affects climate. While satellite technology makes sea surface temperature measurements possible from space, drifters are needed to ensure these measurements are accurate. Without drifter observations to correct satellite measurements, these measurements can err due to dust and other elements in the atmosphere. Each drifter is part of a global ocean array that students can follow online, along with the particular drifter they adopted.
Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary was designated in 1980 to protect marine resources surrounding San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa and Santa Barbara islands. The sanctuary spans approximately 1,470 square miles, extending from island shorelines to six miles offshore, and encompasses a rich diversity of marine life, habitats and historical and cultural resources.
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