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Filling a data gap in the Tropical Pacific to reveal daily air-sea interactions

A bright orange Saildrone uncrewed surface vehicle on the water

Saildrone uncrewed surface vehicles, funded by the NOAA Uncrewed Systems Operations Center, contributed to new research on how changes in ocean surface temperature affect our atmosphere’s stability and movement. The Saildrone surveys have focused on the eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator and have helped explore how temperature changes on a daily basis impact global weather patterns. Learn more about this work in this NOAA Climate Program Office article.

The research team, led by Meghan Cronin at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, recently published some of their results in Nature Geoscience. The publication highlights the value of uncrewed systems, like Saildrones, in providing high-resolution data in both time and space, and filling gaps in data-sparse regions.

Additional funding for this work was provided by the NOAA Climate Program Office’s Climate Observations and Monitoring program and Global Ocean Monitoring and Observing program.

a, Saildrone #1006 (SD1006) track, coloured by SST measured at 0.6 m. b, TPOS Saildrone. c, Measured SST (black) and extrapolated foundation temperature (Tfdn) (red) for the period 1 October 2017 to 1 January 2018, when the drone was south of 20.23° N plotted as a latitude section along ~125° W (upper panel) and time series (lower panel). d, SST at 0.6 m (black) and extrapolated Tfdn (red) from 10 minute data (top panel) and from daily averaged data with 24 hour running-averaged SST shown in black (second p
Graphic from recently published Nature Geoscience article showcasing the data gathered via Saildrones. (See article for full description). Credit: Cronin et al. 2024/NOAA. 

 Main image credit: Saildrone, Inc.