Across Earths equatorial region, roughly 50 moored buoys have been deployed to measure temperature, currents, waves and winds, salinity, carbon dioxide, allowing scientists to study the signs of and predict destructive weather patterns such as El Nio. Scientists say four times as many are needed to create more uniform coverage. Some areas have no sampling stations at all.
In a growing number of places, meanwhile, pressure gauges deployed near shore and on the deep seafloor help detect both sea level rise and tsunamis. The deep-sea operation involves a surface buoy to receive the information from below and relay it to ground stations via satellite. There were six such Deep Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART) stations, all of them deployed in the Pacific, at the time of the earthquake and devastating Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004. An additional 32 DART buoys were soon announced, including stations in the Indian, Caribbean and Atlantic oceans.
Using cables hundreds of kilometers long on the seabed at depths down to 3 km, dotted with instrument nodes, scientists can access and control scientific sensors and remotely-operated vehicles and cameras.
The information gleaned will improve understanding of plankton blooms, fish migrations, changing ocean conditions, climate change, underwater volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and the processes that cause them, and help warn of approaching tsunamis.
The ocean observing system suffers from major gaps in the observational coverage of satellites, which provide a high-altitude window on such marine characteristics as sea surface roughness, temperature, currents, ice cover and s
|Contact: Terry Collins|
University of California - San Diego