THOUSAND OAKS, Calif., Teledyne Technologies Incorporated announced today the deployment of several of its Slocum gliders in the Gulf of Mexico by partner organizations. The Slocum gliders, manufactured by Teledyne Webb Research, are monitoring the waters off the West coast of Florida, sending vital data back to scientists in real time. The gliders are looking for evidence of oil or dispersants in the water, as well as measuring ocean currents to help determine the direction and speed of movement of the oil spill plume. Additional Slocum gliders are planned for deployment in the next seven to ten days.
A glider is an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) driven by a buoyancy engine capable of long-term deployment for measuring oceanographic parameters. Gliders were first conceived by Douglas Webb, the founder of Teledyne Webb Research. Teledyne Webb Research has been designing and manufacturing gliders from its E. Falmouth, Mass., location for more than 10 years, and remains the industry leader in autonomous underwater gliding vehicles.
Currently there are four Slocum gliders in the waters around the West Florida Shelf. Two of the units, RU21 and RU23, which were deployed on May 17 and June 3, respectively, are owned by Rutgers University and were deployed by Mote Marine Laboratory. A third glider, Bass, is owned and operated by the University of South Florida, and the fourth glider, UD_134, is owned and operated by the University of Delaware. All four of the deployed gliders are shallow-water gliders set for depths between 30 and 200 meters. Each glider is equipped with a conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) sensor, for measuring temperature and salinity, and an optical instrument for measuring concentrations of colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM), light scattering and chlorophyll-a.
A fluorescent signal from the CDOM sensor indicates the presence of organic matter, which can be a result of biological processes in the upper ocean, river runoff or hydrocarbons (e.g. oil). Organic matter is common near the ocean's surface where photosynthesis occurs, but readings at deeper depths would be a stronger indication of oil and would be worthy of further investigation. There is concern that the Loop Current, which passes between the Yucatan peninsula and Cuba and then flows from the northwest to the northeast and ultimately through the Florida straits to become the Gulf Stream, may transport the oil north along the Eastern seaboard. Data from the gliders and other vessels and equipment in the spill area will be used to help determine the spatial extent of oil in the water and the speed of its movement.
Data is being collected and posted to a portal site run by Rutgers University, allowing scientists from various government agencies and other glider teams located around the country to view a single site to obtain a consolidated view of the data being generated throughout the gulf. The datasets generated by the Teledyne gliders operated by Rutgers and others will help feed the models that are predicting the position and movement of the oil spill plume.
To track the progress of the gliders and see the data being collected, visit http://rucool.marine.rutgers.edu/deepwater/.
About Teledyne Webb Research
Teledyne Webb Research designs and manufactures scientific instruments for oceanographic research and monitoring. Teledyne Webb Research specializes in three areas of ocean instrumentation: Neutrally buoyant, autonomous drifters and profilers, autonomous underwater gliding vehicles, and moored underwater sound sources. Teledyne Webb Research is a member of the Teledyne Marine Group of companies. More information about gliders and other Teledyne Webb Research products can be found at www.webbresearch.com.