Performance of an Ocean Buoyancy Glider in a Coastal Region: Application to the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxic Zone Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • © 2017, Marine Technology Society Inc. All rights reserved. The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Hypoxia Glider Experiment was designed to assess the feasibility of using ocean glider technology in the coastal hypoxic zone of the northern Gulf of Mexico in Summer/Fall 2014. The objectives were (1) to coordinate and operate multiple autonomous buoyancy ocean gliders in depths less than 50 m and (2) to determine how close to the bottom gliders can reliably reach without making contact. Strong vertical and horizontal stratification gradients, strong coastal currents, and the low-oxygen conditions that occur within the lower water column characterize the coastal area of the northern Gulf of Mexico. These environmental conditions combine with the presence of more than 5,000 surface piercing oil/gas structures to make piloting and navigation in the region challenging. We quantify glider performance to assess the usefulness of buoyancy gliders to address the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Action Plan goal to monitor the spatial extent, duration, and severity of the Gulf hypoxic zone. We find that the gliders, despite the operational challenges, were consistently able to travel from the surface to the oxygen-depleted depths of subpycnocline waters, that is, within 2 m of the ocean bottom. Our assessment is that gliders are able to provide real-time observations suitable to monitor coastal hypoxia.

author list (cited authors)

  • Ramey, E., DiMarco, S. F., Dreger, K., & Zimmerle, H. M.

citation count

  • 2

publication date

  • July 2017