A Navy unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), or underwater drone, recovered from the Gulf of Mexico on Dec. 8 after a three-month journey is yielding information that may help scientists predict hurricane intensification.
The Naval Oceanographic Office’s (NAVOCEANO) Navy Littoral Battlespace Sensing Glider was deployed in the Gulf on Aug. 31 as part of a joint effort with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Coast Guard and the University of Southern Mississippi.
During its 1,500-mile journey around the Gulf, the glider collected thousands of measurements to depths of approximately 3,000 feet, including ocean temperature and salinity data that scientists use to determine the amount of heat stored in the upper layers of the ocean. Identifying areas with high heat potential helps predict hurricane intensification.
“The profile data from the gliders will be valuable in providing ground truth for Navy and NOAA ocean models and providing observed upper ocean heat content data to NOAA hurricane forecasters,” said Carl Szczechowski, physical oceanography technical lead at NAVOCEANO located at Stennis Space Center, (SSC) Mississippi. Naval oceanography UUVs support the Navy’s Strategy for information dominance.
The glider’s mission marked the end of a year of expansion and evolution in NAVOCEANO’s Navy Unmanned Underwater Systems Operations. Throughout 2014, UUV pilots at SSC successfully, remotely controlled vehicles located in the Western Pacific, Eastern Pacific, Mediterranean, Nordic Seas, Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Eastern Atlantic.
Persistent operations in the Western and Eastern Pacific supplied critical information to ocean circulation models that provided more accurate products for U.S. Navy fleet requirements. These persistent operations also allow ocean forecasters and watch floor personnel to support fleet exercises in the area with near-real-time data that would not have otherwise been available.
Operations in the Caribbean resulted in enhanced global knowledge of atmosphere and ocean interaction during the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season, as UUVs from the Navy fleet maintained a presence throughout the season. Knowledge gathered during this effort will enhance scientists’ ability to predict both intensity and steering of storms, which could lead to savings in both lives and infrastructure.
Naval Oceanographic Office - http://www.public.navy.mil/fltfor/cnmoc/Pages/navo_home1.aspx