National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce

El Nino

Uncrewed Surface Vehicles Arrive at the Equator to Monitor El Niño Development

The 120-day Tropical Pacific Observing System (TPOS) 2023 Saildrone Mission officially began on June 22, 2023, just after the official start of what experts suggest may be a strong El Niño. The three Saildrone, Inc. Explorer-class Uncrewed Surface Vehicles (USVs), launched from Honolulu, Hawai‘i, are now at the equator in the central Pacific (~155°W), about 1,300 miles south of the Hawaiian Islands.

Orange drone in the middle of blue water with clouds above and a rainbow in the background

SD 1079 deploys in Hawai'i with a rainbow seen in the background. Courtesy Saildrone, Inc..

Map with red-blue color bar with a black line showing the straight south route of the drones

The three Saildrone, Inc. uncrewed surface vehicles were launched from Hawai‘i and currently are at the equator in the central Pacific observing the developing El Niño. Sea Surface Temperature (SST) warmer than 90°F is shown in dark red. SST cooler than 70°F is shown in dark blue. This image was generated within the Saildrone, Inc. mission portal using the SST analysis from the HYCOM ocean prediction system. Click to enlarge map. 


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