NORUS Workshop II, Cal Poly

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday, November 22

On our first formal day of fun and learning, the NORUS group was introduced to the location in which we are going to reside most of the time of the workshop - a nice marine science slash teaching center situated ideally by the beach just two minutes walk from our hotel.

After initial introductions, the group traveled west of San Luis Obispo to Montana De Oro State Park to enjoy some healthy exercise and gorgeous views of the California coast. In the beginning part of the hike, there were several scenic views of the Morro Bay rock and the Morro Bay coastline with several prime surfing spots visible and the group stopped to take pictures. During the hike, Dr. Mark Moline was a model tour guide and discussed how the area used to be several ranches before becoming a state park. He also identified poison oak to the group, which could have been devastating if anyone became exposed to it. Later, when viewing the many tide pool areas along the hike, we were fortunate enough to encounter some marine life including a sea otter and several species of sea snails. The group concluded the hike by enjoying a beautiful sunset and some nice group pictures.

Starving from the strenuous stroll, but excited to have survived the perils of poison oak and obnoxious otters, we congregated yet again at the customs house for a feast. After having over-eaten on american portions, we returned to the science center for John's teaser talk on gliders and their potential.

Prof. Moline explaining the perils of poison oak
- it will get you, and it will kill you

Here is what we heard:

Gliders today are no longer a pipe dream, but are actually in use all over the globe, making science as they go.

Gliders vary their buoyancy and produce forward movement by flying up or down, using their wings to push water behind them. They have no need for propellers, which means reduced energy consumption and mission times of several months. With this kind of mission lengths, biofouling becomes an issue – as a naked glider is like a virgin land on which hydroids, lepas (duckbill shells?), barnacles and algae immediately starts settling whereever they can get a foothold. Coating with Teflon and jumping between water masses of sharp temperature gradients represents a couple of the solutions, but neither is simple and straightforward.

Models have normally been driven by remotely sensed products like satellite and Codar (radar) products. Unlike these technologies, gliders produce data from beneath the surface as well, literally providing in depth input data for your model. Shipboard surveys can be very thorough and accurate, but are expensive, while gliders and AUVs are cheap in comparison.

In your waters of interest, the Webb Slocum is the only glider able to operate in a coastal setting less than 200 meters deep. The Seaglider and Spray glider have longer deflection times, and thus need larger depths to operate. Gliders are cost effective and financially scalable to fit your scientific budget, once the platform has been bought. However, in a glider mission, low to moderate speeds must be acceptable, so high energy waters of strong turbulence or currents will pose a challenge to navigate

Gliders can be fitted with an already wide, and growing, array of instruments for measurements at your leisure. These include optical inherent and apparent properties, biological properties such as phytoplankton signatures and production rates, as well as physical and chemical properties of for example temperature, salinity, nutrients and oxygen.

Iridium and wireless communications allow distributed gliders to be controlled remotely, and you could be sipping your latté at a coffee bar while operating your fleet of arctic gliders through your complimentary wireless access. Real-time oceanography at the tip of your finger!

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