Partnering Ocean Observing & Maritime Industry
H. Thomas Rossby, a professor at the Graduate School of Oceanography, is leading an effort to partner with the global shipping industry to systematically collect detailed data about the world’s oceans by installing equipment on commercial vessels.
According to a report written by Rossby and colleagues on a working group sponsored by the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research and the International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Oceans, “the ocean is vastly under-observed, particularly below the ocean surface, where satellites cannot measure the ocean’s properties. …Observations below the surface depend on getting platforms (ships, moored buoys, floats, gliders, etc.) to locations far beyond the coasts, which can be expensive.”
Rossby said ships are especially useful for collecting this data because they traverse the same routes on a regular basis, much like satellites orbiting the Earth.
For instance, the URI scientist has gained valuable insights about Gulf Stream currents from instruments he and colleagues have operated for nearly 20 years on a freighter that travels between New Jersey and Bermuda. Other ships, including a Miami-based cruise ship and a ferry traveling between Denmark and Iceland, also collect oceanographic measurements.
“Various researchers have worked with the commercial shipping industry along selected routes for years, but these have been individual efforts,” Rossby said. “If the ocean observation community came together with the shipping industry, we could bring synergies and remove significant observational deficiencies the way we operate today.”
The proposed partnership, called OceanScope, aims to begin an initial phase by placing instruments on ships traversing 14 routes in the North Atlantic.
“If we could have these routes routinely measuring currents from Iceland to the equator, we could really start to quantify ocean currents in a way we’ve never done before,” Rossby said.
For more information, please see the full press release at this link.
Photo by Michael Salerno Photography