National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce

What's New

The fleet of saildrones pictured here are being prepared for a summer and fall of science from the Bering Sea to the Arctic to the far reaches of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Credit: Saildrone Inc.

July 19, 2017

Over the next four months, NOAA scientists will launch unmanned ocean vehicles, called Saildrones, from the Arctic to the tropical Pacific Ocean to help better understand how changes in the ocean are affecting weather, climate, fisheries and marine mammals. The wind and solar-powered research vehicles that resemble a sailboat will travel thousands of miles across the ocean, reaching some areas never before surveyed with such specialized technology. 

Earlier this week, PMEL scientists and Saildrone, Inc. sent off three saildrones from Dutch Harbor, Alaska. For the first time, two saildrones will sail north through the Bering Strait into the Arctic Ocean to study how the Arctic Ocean is absorbing carbon dioxide.  A third unmanned vehicle will survey more than 3,100 nautical miles in the Bering Sea for walleye pollock, Northern fur seals that prey on them and the elusive North Pacific right whale. This work will build on research conducted during 2016, including a study of fur seal feeding rates. NOAA Fisheries Alaska Fisheries Science Center scientists will also attach video cameras to fur seals to record feeding and verify the species and sizes of fish that fur seals are eating.

In September, scientists will launch two more unmanned systems from Alameda, Calif., on a six-month, 8,000-nautical-mile, round-trip mission to the equator to improve the Tropical Pacific Observing System (TPOS).  TPOS provides real-time data used by the U.S. and partner nations to forecast weather and climate, including El Nino.  The unmanned sailing vehicles will take part in a larger field study with NASA, and visit mooring sites along the array of observing buoys.

Read the release on NOAA Research here and follow along with the Innovative Technology for Arctic Exploration's Blog for the Bering and Chukchi Seas missions. 

PMEL in the News

July 06, 2017

Deaths of baby oysters in the Pacific Northwest are happening at an alarming rate because of increasing ocean acidification due to climate change. For shellfish farmers and the area that depends on them, it’s a more unwieldy foe than they’ve ever confronted.

June 30, 2017

In 2014 the Bering Sea warmed, raising concerns that pollock populations would plummet as they did in the previous warm phase of 2001-2005. But a new study suggests that this time young pollock had alternative...

June 28, 2017

Greenland’s ice sheet is melting faster than expected, and this has been accelerating over the past two decades. It is now the biggest single contributor to global sea level rise, accounting for 25 percent of the total. But besides warming climes, there is another culprit for the melt: sunnier...